Kayak surfing

Words and photographs by Larry Turner

Oregon, Lake of the Woods
Oregon, Lake of the Woods

(Note: this was written 11-15-2016 while at the lake cabin. This piece originally appeared in the 500 page hardcover book Cabin Cruising: History of Lake of the Woods, OR. The book sold out the first week after release. The forward to the book was done by Academy Award-winning director/writer James Ivory who, to this day, still spends summer time at his family’s lake cabin, a few cabins away from the cabin written about here).

Oregon, Lake of the Woods

It's evening. I have a blazing fire in the old cabin hearth. The crackling fir and the heavy, steady rain on the cabin's metal roof are my companions...along with the November lake solitude. The election is over—an added relief.

A super moon illuminated the mountain (McLoughlin) and the utterly still lake last night, setting at 6 am. Cozied away in the screened sleeping porch, I woke to view the moon set and the first light on the mountain. Yesterday, from my pillow, I noticed the pink sunlight of dawn on McLoughlin's peak. Quickly, I grabbed my robe and exited to the patio where I photographed an ethereal scene of mist rising off the lake, ribbons of fog across the lake's west-side forests, and pink blushes of first sunlight on the partial snow-covered mountain. I worked quickly as I know how fleeting these moments are...as years at the lake in different seasons has gifted me with scenes that few see. Our screened sleeping porch—with four queen-sized beds—is one of few left at the lake, if not the last one that is used as the permanent sleeping area. This old cabin fits the lake perfectly, representing an earlier era.

The original old cabins at the lake are getting fewer every year as they are either remodeled or destroyed, replaced by new homes. This old cabin (built around 1930) speaks deeply and eloquently of family and friends, and is a repository of lake memories for several generations. As my brother-in-law Rob Crawford (the cabin owner along with his sister Judy Story) once told me, “No one can buy our family tradition or heritage connected with the cabin, no matter the price they offer. No pockets are deep enough to purchase an integral part of our soul.”

  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  


The lake, the cabin and the mountain are rich and old honored friends of mine. Lake of the Woods has inspired me since I was a child. We first came from our Malin home to fish and camp. The first cabin stay I recall was as a teenager at Bob Elden's (A-1) at a FFA (Future Farmers of America) leadership retreat in 1963. In the late 1970s, I started staying periodically at Rob's family cabin, and still do to this day, including some longer stretches in the off season when few are at the lake. More often than not, I open and close the cabin every year. My wife JJ—she passed 18 years ago—and I have many cabin memories before and after our son's birth (Steen is 31 now). My son Steen and I were at the cabin when Rob's mom Ruth Mary passed away. She and her husband Jack purchased the cabin in 1946. Jack's sister Ann and brother-in-law Lloyd Prock purchased cabin E-6 for a $10 gold coin in 1944. Jack's sister Mary Elizabeth and her husband Peter Cartwright were owners of cabin C-2. Jack and Ruth Mary's daughter Laurie and her husband Don Owens (owners to this day of Sundown Tent and Awning in Klamath Falls) later would purchase cabin W-9. Four lake cabins were owned by the Crawford family at one time.


My brother-in-law Rob's grandfather Harry Bathiany was a noted adventurer, who fought in the Spanish-American War, and once shared a tent with famous adventurer Roald Amundsen--first human to reach the South Pole and a member of the first expedition to cross Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Along with some abandoned shipmates, Harry once hiked 250 miles across Alaska in the dead of winter. The Bathianys were once the ruling royals of the Austrian/Hungarian empire. Many buildings and city squares are named for them in Budapest. “The trashy Hapsburgs took the crown from us!” laughs Laurie.
The lake has been a welcome and powerful influence in my photography and writing life. I'm constantly inspired by the play of light with the elements when I visit the cabin. There has never been a television or phone in this cabin and the radio reception is often poor as many times I've tried to pick up and listen to a World Series game (traditionally every year I'm here during the Fall Classic; I have sweet memories of being in the old canoe in the middle of the lake listening to a game during the time when there were day games). Books abound.

The world becomes simpler and more elemental when at the lake. I breath slower, I get recharged and I feel more refreshed and relaxed when here. Worries and concerns fall away like autumn leaves under the spell of the lake's embrace. In a harried world, the lake is like a masseur releasing pressure, allowing relaxation and a greater clarity of being.

  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  


The clarity and the play of light at the lake are amazing. I'm a documentary photographer and travel/adventure writer. The lake and its environs offer the perfect palette for painting with the camera. When here, I experiment a lot with the technical and creative nuances of the camera, as time slows down and allows such. It is here where I've perfected the technical aspects of night photography, which I've been able to take with me to such places as the active volcanic flows on Hawaii's Big Island, the streets of Quebec City, the intoxicating mountains that surround Sestriere, Italy. Over the years at the lake, I've experienced a plethora of wildlife and birdlife which I've photographed, including martin, weasel, deer, raccoon, pileated woodpecker, pelicans, osprey, bald eagles, loons.

I come to the lake to edit, write, read, relax, engage in physical activities...and to enjoy family and friends in a social setting where relaxation comes readily. While here, I've received emails and calls from noted publications, leading to sells such as to The Atlantic, Smithsonian, American Heritage, Browntrout Publishers, Range Magazine, Vermont Monthly, Nevada Magazine and many others. I've explored every nook and cranny of the lake, some many times over. My son, brother-in-law, niece Callie, sister LeAnne and I especially love seeking morel mushrooms during the spring flush. The lake has allowed me to meet some cabin owners that have become lifelong friends. Caretaker Justin Andersen—one of many that I've known—has been a treasure. Sailing with John Poole and driving Chris Cotton's boat while he water skis has been a pleasure, too. I love biking around the lake and exploring the many trails that our area offers. And of course, there is the fishing. I'm a devout fly fisherman but Lake of the Woods is the only place where I'll use powerbait to bring in some big daddies for filleting and frying!

  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  


I experience the lake in all seasons. My favorite is autumn. But I love winter, too, as few other people are here. I have fond memories of cross-country skiing across the lake in star and moonlight, and skiing to the lodge for dinner and drinks when it was open during the winter season. The winter cabin is not for the faint of heart as the temperatures can be severe. Since we do not have year-round water and the cabin was built with minimum insulation, winter time is more like snow camping. But the reward is extraordinary with night skies scintillating, day and night skiing energizing and fulfilling, evenings gathered around the blazing hearth primordial, the taste of drink and food as though you've had something for the first time...but more than anything: the quiet is so deep that your heart and soul sings to you, gently, beautifully...poetry beyond the most eloquent human words. Basically, the cabin and lake gives me sustenance to weather and enjoy the remainder of the year. It recharges me and renders me into the deepest quiet that I've ever known.

I want to share with you how I, other family members and friends have felt about their stay here at this unique and beautiful lake (always a Golden Pond). The cabin log that I've helped be a repository of goes back 25 years (and more, I'm sure, but we could not locate them) but cabin photos go back to the 1940s. These are direct, unedited entries, which I excerpted from the dairies. I will place the date and people.

  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  


9-21-1993 Jerry and Judy Story/the earthquake

Came to see if the earthquake had caused any damage!! Shook a few things out of the cupboards. The living room carpet was covered in ashes from rocks falling in fireplace. We are surprised the old fireplace held up! (note: The Klamath Falls earthquake took place September 20. Two people died. It registered 6.0 magnitude).

10-21-1993 Steen and Larry

Autumn quiet is upon and around the lake. Only one cabin light aglow across the lake last night. The year of no World Series. Steen and I read around the hearth last night. 'Slept under five blankets with socks and pjs on. 'Awoken in the morning by the splashing of mergansers. 'Hurriedly built a fire and brewed a half pot of wild and woolly coffee (the kind that is almost illegal!). 'Photographed a bald eagle spearing a trout with its talons. We plan to fly fish and hike today.

11-3-1993 Larry and Jim Hyatt

We came in with a load of wood, at times thinking that we were Santa pulling a sleigh. In fact, horses and a sleigh would have been wiser. The first snow of the season. The lake lonely and beautiful. All the trees were adorned in their first new white dress of the season. We got stuck twice, finally deciding to carry the wood in by wheel barrel and foot. 'Felt like Ole Abe!

We split and stacked, huffed and puffed but could only blow more snow down!

8-12-1993 Larry Steen Lance Sissy Cindi and Chris O'Grady Tim and Darla Parks Sue Cogley

'Laid down in the far right bed, delighting in the warm light working its soothing magic through the screen onto my receptive body and soul. I needed the rest after no sleep in nearly 40 hours. I was hired to shoot some stills for the McKenna tv series, thereby making a mad dash to and from Bend...the midnight photo express! The lake night was lively with people. On two mattresses, eight of us laid, our eyes to the sky. Steen and Lance (Weaver) saw 14 'shooters' (falling stars) at last count. (note: Tim and Darla slept on the dock. During a dream state, Tim accidentally rolled into the lake that night. Talk about an abrupt awakening!!!)

8-19-1993 Larry Steen Sissy

'Came in after sunset yesterday. We've been on the movie set 'Grizzly Mountain' with Dan Hagerty (Grizzly Adams fame). I was hired to shoot some stills. The movie is being filmed on my friend Rick Ponte's Double Tree Ranch property outside Merlin (the same property where parts of Spirit of the Eagle was filmed). We had a lovely camp on the river (Rogue), sleeping on the ground under the sweet canopy of summer stars.
Hagerty was a delightful, friendly, good humored guy. His son Dylan and Steen played a lot. Hagerty and his wife Samantha drove me to my vehicle yesterday so that I could pack and head to the cabin (note: Hagerty passed in 2016 and Samantha in a tragic motorcycle crash in 2008).

6-29-1994 Judy Jeff Jim and Jamus Quintana

'Came to do the yearly cleaning. Beautiful weather—thought it might be a bit cold for swimming but the boys were in the water constantly, when they weren't fishing! Good 'spider' year, found some real trophies!

7-26-95 Callie Max Rob LeAnne and kitten

We thought we would bring up the kitten so we would have one more being to look after. We look forward to frog hunting, swimming and skiing. Hopefully, I won't kill my husband off this time! Huckleberries are ready and beautiful. Picked three cups full.

8-5-96 Grandma Ruth, Grandma Chris, Judy Jeff Jim

Came to pick huckleberries—and they were beautiful! Picked enough for 9 pies—big berries! Jeff caught a nice rainbow in Four Bit Creek. Had dinner at the lodge.

6-18-1996 Ruth Mary, Judy, Jeff, Lanne, Callie, Larry, Steen, Criss

Opened up the cabin. The morning was beautiful. Larry and Jeff put out the dock. Callie lost her two front teeth. Steen gave her a little help with one.

11-9-1996 LeAnne Rob Callie Max

'Slept by a roaring fire. Lake like glass. Big trout feeding. Canoed to Merriman Point and had a picnic. Max and Callie waded. Max has become a world class rock plunker.

11-18-1996 Larry

First stop at the cabin since spending the summer in Alaska, Yukon Territory and BC. Crazy, tempestuous day! 'Tried fly fishing but the back-cast ended up on the East Coast!

4-2-1997 Larry/ comet Hale-Bopp

Only the caretakers are here. Clear, windy days possessing their own beauty. The real show though is the comet Hale-Bopp. Utterly glorious, like a waning firecracker in the sky. Its tail is long and arched with one cowlick that spews straight up. It's first visible at above McLoughlin after sunset when the first stars and planets can be seen. I watched for hours, mesmerized by this rare sighting which I will never view again in my lifetime.

4-27-97 Plane Crash. Larry Steen

A solo-piloted plane from Bellingham, Washington crashed into the lake just before we had arrived. He had a mechanical failure and was trying to safely land. Eyewitnesses said the plane was low then all of a sudden veered sharply to the left into the lake. The pilot was killed instantly. I photographed the sheriff, ambulances and dive people. A fisherman who eye- witnessed the crash kept his boat right over the crash area area until the divers arrived. The crash was near the cabin, straight out toward Mount McLoughlin. They recovered the 72 year old's body quickly. Several personal items and plane parts drifted to the shore. Steen and I picked them up and placed them on the Kenyon's dock. Socks, oil cans, canteen, scarf, one seat, medicine, fuselage parts. It was an eerie sight, knowing the man was alive just over an hour ago.

A petroleum soaking circular net was placed around the sunken plane to absorb oil and fuel. The following day during a snowstorm, Steen and I paddled the canoe to the spot and I took a series of photos that ran on the front page of the Herald and News. The lake was utterly quiet. Not a soul around. Strange contrast to the activity the day before. (note: two weeks later the mangled Cessna was removed).

9-1-1997 Matthew and Vickie Cartwright (Matt's family owned C-2 at one time)

So many memories. I feel so blessed to have spent summers here as a child. Procks, Crawfords, Cartwrights growing up together, loving each other. I feel sad that we have grown up and grown apart. It is so easy to get busy and not have time for one another. I am into a family reunion. Jack, Anne and Betty have brought quite a clan into this world! It was hard to cut down the old swing. I remember taking turns swinging and everyone else pelting them with fir cones. I had some amazing experiences with osprey. I was playing my flute one evening and an osprey stayed above us a long time calling and swooping over our heads for what seemed like forever; quite magical. Also a phenomena which I call the Osprey Spiraling up in the air like a vase, 13 of them, then splitting off and hunting. We saw this three times.

Each year I leave here feeling refreshed, and made new.

9-27-1997 Grandma Ruth, Judy Jeff Janie Neil Devon

Painted the trim. Froze our buns off until we were almost done—then it got warm! 'Hope everyone likes the John Deere green!

10-28-1997 Larry

'Came in from 17 days in the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. I'm following autumn east to west this year. Two nights ago the Florida Marlins unfortunately won the World Series in 7 games with a 3-2 victory over my team the Cleveland Indians.

The lake is quiet, black and peaceful tonight. I see but one light across its dark belly. The smell of burning firewood smells good. I hear faint raindrops on the tin roof. The cabin is very cozy. Life is good.

3-23-1998 Larry Steen Chris Shaw (note: Steen's best friend who would die in a tragic 4-wheeler accident two years later at 15)

Lake frozen. Cross-country skiing great!

6-16-1998 Ruth Mary, Judy LeAnne Callie Max Larry Chris Shaw Steen

Cabin cleaning day. Judy photographed Max as he pursued the elusive Moby Trout with his three-foot rod. Ruth Mary and I talked about the good ole days in Reno when the tallest building was Harold's Club's seventh floor.

7-5-1998 Callie Max LeAnne Rob

Thanks to Uncle John, Uncle Jerry, Jim, Bryce and Aunt Louise we had fresh kokanee for lunch. We went to Fish Lake for an early dinner and then hiked the Butte Creek Trail. Lots of beautiful wildflowers.

10-22-1998 Larry

I'll never tire of the season of change, color and deep silence. It strums the cords deep in the soul. The autumnal song does not have the vitality of summer, nor the promise of spring or the quiet innocence of winter. Yet is is my favorite season because of the rich palette of color, the harvest results of spring and summer labor, the enriching little chores that need to be done in an unhurried fashion before winter, the landscape beating with a lively and robust heartbeat, the imminence of change yet days to linger doing things that give you great joy. The poetry of autumn at the lake is pure, lively, eloquent. Life is at its best deep in the soul of autumn. Okay, maybe I did drink too much Cabernet!

11-7-1998 JJ Steen Larry Boo Boo (written by JJ, her last entry in the cabin log as she passed away a year later)

We got six inches of snow last night, adding on to the three on the ground. We were barely able to get Larry's suburban out. Steen and I helped shovel it out, back to the main road. Safely back in the cabin, we had a nice, cozy fire and Chinese leftovers from Wongs, topped off with Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. Everything is perfect - the crackling of the fire, the wonderful food, and occasionally when I look out the window the beautiful scenery with trees covered with clouds of puffy white flakes and snow still falling.

I didn't know how much I needed to unwind until I was finally here at the cabin. I'm cozied up to Buttons (our family Boston terrier) and my glasses are off my face—wow, what a relief. Steen and I played Clue with Jeannette (Boo Boo, our niece, named after JJ).

12-13-1998 Larry Steen Boo Boo JJ

“Came to the cabin briefly via cross-country skis. We got our Christmas tree today on Clover Creek Road. 'State Police stopped and checked our permits. We had three trees, two permits. “One must have blown off the tree,” I said seriously. He said seriously, “Yep, must have. Where did you get the trees?” “Around Lake of the Woods,” I said seriously. “Huh,” he replied, noticing my vehicle was parked heading toward Lake of the Woods. Later upon checking my map, I realized that Clover Creek was a no cutting zone. Oops. Ah well, all's well that ends well!

The search continues for the Bonanza boy. I know some of the family. The patrolman earlier had said that the 8-year-old had not been found yet. He got lost a week ago tree hunting with his dad and granddad. A real tragedy. A few days ago, we helped search. (note: to this day Derrick Engebretson has not been located).

6-18-1999 Larry Steen Lani

James Ivory

'Had a wonderful afternoon photographing Jim Ivory. He is here for two weeks. He'll depart for England in August to film an adaptation of Henry Jame's The Golden Bowl. He'll be directing Uma Thurman, Nick Nolte, Angelica Houston, Joseph Fiennes. Every bit a gentleman, he is an international treasure in the film world and a graduate of Klamath Union High School. His cabin is three cabins away. He plans to use a couple of my images for his autograph photos. He said that he's never had a photographer capture him as he sees himself.

11-11-1999 Larry JJ Steen (JJ's last cabin visit as she passed 12-28-1999)

Quiet time. Not a soul except us at the lake. Earlier in the day, we visited the world's tallest white pine just off the Butte Falls Road. It's mindful of a redwood! 'Looks like a great area to cut a lovely spruce Christmas tree sometime in December (which we did).

11-27-1999 Steen Larry

Steen and I canoed to the lodge for a prime rib dinner. After dinner we canoed back in the dark. The night sky clear, the stars and planets luminescent. Pleiades, Taurus and Sirius especially bright. The lake calm. We used the cabin's porch light as the compass home. 'Slept with mattress on the floor in front of the fireplace. Both of us woke up midnight or after and took a leak off the steps...father facing south and son north. 'Must be some kind of a father-son ritualistic bonding when you piss off the porch together!

6-13-2000 Steen Larry

Steen woke me up at night. “Dad, look at the moon setting!” JJ's spirit must have woke him up to the visual event. Hanging like a Christmas tree ornament on the tall firs, it sank gloriously on the Western horizon, illuminating the lake and cabin with phosphorescent lunar reflected light. An eloquent natural beauty.

8-11-2000 Rob Callie Max LeAnne

We got rained out of the grain harvest so we came up to the lake. 'Stopped at Spencer Creek on the way up. The shore of the creek was completely filled with monarch butterflies.

9-14-2000 Larry John and Louise Crawford/ bass technique/ Lee Stoner/Lloyd Gass

John tells the story about his dad Jack's setup for catching bass night fishing with a pole, bell and large bait.

“When the bell would ring at night (the rod was placed at the end of the dock), the first to hear would wake up dad with 'Dad, you've got a fish on!' The largest he ever caught was eight pounds. His ability to catch the big ones was revered by other lake fisherman. However, they did not know the 'secret' technique. It could have been, too, that dad 'unintentionally' provided 'other information' about the technique.”

John said that in those days they just had two-row barley and from June 15 to August 15, they spent most of their time at the cabin.

After John and Louise departed I puttered around, later visiting Lee Stoner (lake cabin owner for 50 years) and Lloyd Gass (who has the oldest cabin at the lake; Lloyd is directly descended from the Gass on the Lewis and Clark Party). Lee played Sentimental Lady and some other tunes on his piano. He showed us his collection of original music sheets. Stunning! He is a retired electrical engineer (Harvard graduate) and lived in Klamath Falls most of his life. (note: I had Lee and a few friends over for a dock party the following day, introducing him to Mary Clark, about his age. Later we all went to his place where he and Mary played on his two pianos for hours. It was divine! It would be Lee's last lake party as he had a stroke soon-after and then passed away)

June 2, 2001 Larry Steen/ Ruth Mary passes away

Ruth Mary passed away this morning. A grand, remarkable and well lived mortal life comes to a close. This cabin that she and Jack purchased in 1946 takes on a different meaning as their spirits will forever dance in the light of sunrises, sunsets, glowing embers of evening fires. Her gentle demeanor, kindness and generosity, smiling eyes, artistic renderings, profound love of family and friends, amicable countenance and love of life will forever inspire those who knew and loved her. The matriarch of this cabin and the Crawford family will be forever missed.

6-18-2001 Judy

'Came and spent two nights alone. Last night when the wind quit (very late) there was absolute silence—a sound I haven't heard much! Thanks for all the nice things you have done here at the cabin Larry! The fireplace, the cleaning, the water, etc.. I missed Mom and LeAnne puttering around. The kitchen will never get cleaned to Mom's standards this year. As I cleaned I enjoyed many memories of her. She taught me to not to be afraid to be alone. I had wonderful adventures with her here. As I made the beds, I remembered how worried she was that the new bedspreads were 'too loud'. I remember asking Mom 'did you ever relax and just sit in the sun?' She said sure she did. Hard to believe...she always seemed to be working.

Mom never was much into religion, but she taught me these important lessons—you live on through your children and by doing good things and treating people right.

I'll be back soon to be at this very special place she has given us. It's such a wonderful place to think and put life in perspective.

I miss you Mom.

  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  
  Lake of the Woods, Oregon   Lake of the Woods, Oregon  

    Lake of the Woods, Oregon    

  Larry Turner is a productive, respected regional, national and international photographer/writer. His work has appeared in countless magazines and books, including Browntrout and Avalanche Publishers' calendars and books, American Heritage, National Geographic Traveler, Travel and Leisure, Sunset and many others. He is the co-author of the book Mount Shasta Reflections, and his photographs have appeared on covers of many books and magazines.  He is an active skier, gardener, fly fisherman,  and adventurer. His greatest love is spending time with his son Steen, Chef de Cuisine of the Cafe Kandahar in Whitefish, Montana.   Larry Turner