Walking along the edge of Whychus creek, warm sun incenses the air with the sweet smell of pine and fir. Watching the water roil and slide over basalt bed rock I let my mind ascend the tree canopy and and fly to edge of this waters origin; glaciers. I know this place in my own right, climbed the peaks who house the diminishing glaciers, walked along the upper reaches of Park and Whychus Creeks and visited the smattering of glaciated tarns that mirror all who care to gaze.
Evidence of Indians residing in the area extend back nearly 8,000 years when the Molalla Indians and perhaps other tribes used Whychus to access Obsidian born of the nearby volcanoes. Whychus, meaning “the place we cross the water” was named by the Warm Springs Confederated Tribes reflects the glacial tributaries great importance.
Any wilderness traveler knows the dangers, necessity and thrill of crossing water. Finding the right place to cross dangerous waters sometimes requires great detours. Seasonality, rain fall, temperature and snow pack heavily influence streams like this. In the late dry summer Whychus can be a harmless thread of a stream, but the spring melt-off can be a white boiling dragon capable of consuming anyone daring to cross. Unrestrained water offers an opportunity to admire both beauty and power. Water and its relentless submission to gravity will pay no heed to a human looking for hasty passage. Instead, a stream in full spring flow will demand patience; the toll.
Since the arrival of American pioneers, Whychus has been subjected to human modification. Many in the Central Oregon area have rallied to transform Whychus from its modified form back into its more wild character. Restoration projects, art, policy and recreation are all examples of community coagulation dedicated to remake what once was; a wild stream fed by mountainous glaciers.