On our road trip across Oregon, we took the first possible detour off of I-5 in search of Crater Lake. It happened to be through Willamette Pass, which I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing before. Ben was familiar as it was an area that his family had spent time driving through, cross-country skiing in, and doing other family winter sports trips. I was blown away by the gorgeous mountain, the lichen covered trees, winding roads, and chilly mountain air. We climbed to about 6,000 feet before we hit the Willamette Pass ski area and pulled off to explore a big alpine lake called Odell Lake and the Salt Creek Falls. I was shocked at how chilly it was on a pretty late summer day. Once we started to climb the pass, the weather got cooler and cooler and I was downright shiver-y in my dress and boots.
I'm not sure why I find these pine-covered mountains to be so breathtaking, but the beauty at Willamette Pass rivaled that of Crater Lake, the Redwoods, and the coast. Perhaps it was that chilly, pine-y scent, or the emptiness and silence that surrounded us. Perhaps it was the fact that upon entering the Willamette National Forest we drove through pastureland and rather ugly small towns and after leaving we were in scrubby Eastern Oregon-style pine forests with no undercover. The contrasts were severe enough to make the pass stand out as one of the most beautiful spots on the trip.
I'm only sorry I couldn't capture those wonderful trees better!