The nice thing about staying in motels or hotels vs Airbnb’s is that they usually offer breakfast. I enjoyed a pretty typical American continental breakfast and headed towards a hiking trail I had found on an app, AllTrails.
The trail was a 30-minute drive west of Bend. I pulled down the gravel road and remembered it was a Saturday because the small parking lot was full of cars. Cars also lined the sides of the road, parking wherever they could find enough space halfway into the shrubs and halfway into the road.
I found a spot on the side of the road and headed towards the trailhead. There were a few different trails so at least it wasn’t crazy crowded on each trail. Originally, I had wanted to go all the way to the top, where there is a lake called “unnamed lake”. The pictures online looked amazing but the road that takes you closer was shut down because it wasn’t maintained. That means you have to hike even further. It would definitely be an all-day affair and pretty exhausting. I wasn’t sure I was prepared for that so I stuck to about 6 miles.
Right away, the trail took me to a beautiful lake. An older couple asked that I take their picture so I obliged. I noticed they were mostly just walking from their car to this point of the lake to take a picture. It was only about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot and there were picnic tables under the trees.
I continued on the trail around the lake and was surrounded by orange butterflies everywhere. They were sitting on the trail, swirling around the trail, and swirling around me. They were so peaceful but sometimes it was hard to walk down the path because they didn’t want to move.
As I circled around the lake, I saw lots of people where the trees opened up. They had blankets and were lounging and eating. This is definitely why it was so crowded in the parking lot. It’s an easy hike to get to the end of the lake and people just chill there. To continue on the trail, however, there were wooden boards on the ground because it was swampy. A couple of times I had to maneuver around and sort of sank a little in the mud.
Once I made it around the lake, I hiked up the side of the mountain a little so I got more of a workout.
I went back to the motel and showered so I could meet Sarah’s friend, Bethany. My friend Sarah had put us in touch through Instagram and we agreed to meet up that evening. I met Bethany, her husband, and their two children (around ages three and five). We met at a really cool place that has food trucks, some picnic tables, and an indoor/outdoor bar.
It was great meeting Bethany and her family. We ordered some beer and sat outside in the warm sun. Bethany is someone I would totally be friends with back home. She was nice, smart, friendly, and loves the outdoors. Her husband is a nurse at the local hospital and Bethany is able to work from home. Her husband’s family lives in Bend and her mom recently moved up there too. They described Bend as a great place to live but housing is pretty expensive. This is partly because the city put in restrictions for building more houses. They don’t want it to become too big and ruin the reason many people like living there – its proximity to nature. Jobs are sometimes hard to come by there too.
Bethany’s two little boys played around the area and played with some of the outdoor games that were provided. We grabbed some food from the trucks and continued to hang out. It’s funny, I had just met these people, but they felt like people I had been friends with for a long time. I was very grateful that Sarah introduced us. Until this point, I had been completely alone in my travels and hadn’t really met anybody. Hanging out with them drinking some beer made me feel like me again. I needed that comfort and I’m incredibly grateful they were willing to meet up with a complete stranger.
The next morning, I met my friend Mandy for breakfast. I had originally met Mandy two years prior while on a training hike in Orange County, CA. I had my huge backpack on because it was my last hike before leaving to hike the John Muir Trail. Mandy also had a big backpack because she was training for the Trans Catalina Trail. She was so friendly and we had hiked together for about 20 minutes – until she had to take a different route. I friended her on Facebook after that and we had only interacted through Facebook in the last two years.
Mandy had recently finished school as an x-ray technician and moved to Bend after hearing about how beautiful it was. I met Mandy at a local café in Bend and we got in a long line to order some food. We were catching up about my trip and why I had decided to do this. When we got to the register to order our food, Mandy told the woman behind the register that I quit my job and I’m traveling the world. I was surprised at how excited the woman was and said that was her dream. I handed her the business card I created with my blog information and said “If you’d like to follow along, here you go?” I was surprised by her enthusiasm, “Yes, absolutely, I want to follow along.” That really pumped me up.
As Mandy and I caught up over breakfast, I told her how surprised I was that Oregon so far was very rural and did not seem like the stories you hear on the news about Portland. It seemed more like rural towns in the Midwest. She said that’s because Portland and Eugene are liberal but most of the state outside of those two cities is conservative. Mandy told me that when her new landlord saw her girlfriend come over, they suddenly started to say there were rules for how often she can have guests over. I felt bad for her. She’s one of the nicest people I know so to have people treat her poorly because of her sexual orientation made me frustrated.
During breakfast, Mandy told me that she had planned a 4-day backpacking trip in Olympic National Forest with a friend from Orange County. Her friend was flying in and they were going to drive up to the rainforest. She had it all mapped out and would hike about 16 miles to the Enchanted Valley and 16 miles back. She invited me to come along. I was torn because on one hand, I did have all of my backpacking gear and I wanted to see the forests in Washington state. On the other hand, I would have to go to Washington and then backtrack to Oregon to see Portland. I had also just booked the hostel in Portland for a week since they were filling up as this was their busy season. I wanted to stay somewhere for at least a week because staying 2 nights in places was exhausting. By the time I unloaded and got settled and then also researched what to do, there just wasn’t enough time to see the place. I wanted to feel a little more settled. I would need to move my reservation at the hostel if I went with them so I told Mandy I’d think about it and get back to her. After breakfast, she headed to work and I headed to Hood River.