Pat Castaldo

Nov 23, 2021

2 min read

Frog Lake, Oct. 2021

There’s actually seven different Frog Lakes in Oregon, eight if you count “Bull Frog Lake” — that’s in Oregon City and isn’t actually a lake, but a reservoir.

I love Oregon City and should really write more about how much, but suffice to say that my daughter was born there.

This Frog Lake sits about 4,000 feet above sea level, right off the Warm Springs Highway between Weme and Madras. That’s Highway 26, if you prefer to number your highways, after it crosses Still Creek and bends south toward Bend.

Frogs love it up there, or so they say. I can’t confirm, since they don’t like it there in October. Too cold. July or August are the best. That’s what I hear. I’ll go back and confirm next summer.

Mt. Hood looks fake from Frog Lake. Like someone took an idea of a snow-capped volcano and painted a hyper-rendered depiction. Then, just to be fancy, painted a mirror-image pointillist copy below.

It is the British whom are actually responsible for its name; a 30yo naval officer in 1792 named the mountain after his boss. He first saw it from Sauvie Island, which now has a clothing-optional beach. He wrote, clothed, “A very high, snowy mountain now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract.”

It takes some self-importance and quite a bit of ass-kissery to name a piece of nature. I’d never name a mountain after my boss. Though, honestly, it’s been over 20 years since I’ve had a boss, so I can’t be certain. He might have been one heck of a boss.

It wasn’t always called Mt. Hood, of course.

Lewis and Clark called it Falls Mountain and two French trappers from the Hudson Bay Company just a few years earlier referred to it simply as “Montagne de Neige.”

Neige is french for Snow, so I probably would have named it the same thing as them if I was there then: Hey, Pierre, look, it’s Snow Mountain.

There’s lore that native tribes called it Wy’east, but there were at least three different languages spoken by regional tribes, so that’s in question. And we get that name from the young white author of influential late 1800s’ “The Bridge of the Gods: A Romance of Indian Oregon,” from his retellings of native stories. Did he get it right? We can never be sure. He died of tuberculosis a few years after writing it.

Nowadays, most folks I know around here — and definitely everyone who lives with me, short of my five-month old daughter who doesn’t call anything anything just yet — call it “the mountain.”

So, if you want to enjoy the mountain in all its splendor, I recommend a stop at Frog Lake.