Coldy-Hot Days, my daughter calls them; the crisp caramel colored mornings that bleed into bright blue 80 degree afternoons. She treks out to school in a summer dress and winter coat, beanie, gloves and Chacos. She is only 6 and yet she understands the secret to mountain comfort, layers.
I am so proud. I am also quite happy because it is my favorite time of year. The unseasonably warm days have me visiting Crane Prairie later than usual and so I am greeted by a different wilderness entirely. No longer a buzz with flying insects and boat motors, the woods are silent. The color has drained from the minor fauna along the trail and the Wizard’s Beard Lichen has turned black.
The trail to Billy Quinn’s Gravesite is short. A stream of light illuminates a gray stone marking the burial site of William Quinn. Quinn was accidentally shot during a family hunting trip in 1894. He died at this site while his family was in en route to Prineville to find a doctor. I sit in remembrance of 25 year old Billy and 3 shots explode across the horizon. It is Deer Season and these trails are open to hunters as well.
It is a bit unsettling to hike by gunfire and even more so when it is an echo of history. I mosey on the down the trail and forward 10 years in time to 1904 and The Cy Bingham Tree. Cy was a minor who drifted West from Michigan. At the age of 23 he was hired by The U.S. Department of The Interior to oversee The Cascade Mountain Range from Crater Lake to The Mckenzie Pass. He patrolled the area from 1903-07, building trails, keeping watch for fires and settling disputes among early ranchers and sheep herders. He was the first Cascade Mountain Forest Ranger. During this time he carved his name into trees creating more than 20 Century Old Arborglyphs. Many of the trees are near his most beloved camp sites. This particular tree is dated 1904 and is just a stones throw from The Quinn River Spring, named for fallen Billy Quinn.
Three more shots ring out, this time closer, just past the bend in the trail. I decide it is time to go home.
“As I rode into this campground on one summer afternoon
To look at nature’s beauty spot that is so little known
I was just a little hungry and my horses they were gant
For ide come from Crane Prairie which ile say no little jant
I unpacked by the inlet cinched the hobble good and tight
Pulled the muffel from the horse bell built a fire good and bright
Then I dug into the kitchen fixed my apatite quite well
Then I lit my pipe in comfort on the banks of Lake Odell”
The Billy Quinn Gravesite (Crane Prairie) is located 49 miles South of Bend at The Osprey Point Observation Area along The Cascade Lakes Highway.