Gale winds shake the Airstream, splashing water from the kettle warming over the stove. Instinctively, I nudge the waning bottle of whiskey away from the edge of the countertop, avoiding catastrophe. We need what little liquid courage remains in order to make the 100-yard sprint from our weathered Airstream to the hot spring without getting scoured by the wind or flanked by hurtling debris. The reward is well-worth the risk; within the barn lies a 95 degree natural hot spring protected from all aspects of the elements besides its roaring howl.
We find ourselves at Summer Lake Hot Springs, outside of Paisley, Ore. primarily out of necessity. We've spent the past three days following an itinerary decided by the Oregon atlas and an abundance of geologic curiosities scattered about the Oregon Outback. Situated east of the Cascade mountain range, we've avoided the brunt of the storm battering the western topography of the mountains, but the winds have traversed the range and are picking up across the high desert Hand written notes posted on general store windows warn us of impending 70mph winds.
In 1843, explorer John Fremont discovered and named Summer Lake during a mapping expedition. The expedition team recuperated in the lake's hot springs for several days, proclaiming it some of the best water they had ever come across. Still saturated from last night, our three-season backpacking tents might withstand the force of winds to come, but we've discovered a plot of economically-priced Airstreams amongst a natural hot spring and submit to the oncoming weather front. Abetted by an excess of whiskey, I compare our fortunate discovery of the Airstream camp to that of Fremont's exploration; both trips dictated by maps, but reaping solace in warm waters.