Timothy Lake Soundwalk

Timothy Lake Soundwalk

In the Quiet Season
Timothy Lake filling up in 1956. Mt. Hood in the background. Photo: Oregon Historical Society

It would be interesting to parse out what we call “lakes” from what are in reality reservoirs. Most of the lakes around here that come to mind are actually reservoirs. After all, natural lakes are just meadow construction sites; their inlet rivers and streams eventually convey enough sediment to fill in the lake beds. Almost all natural lakes are, in this way, ephemeral.

In the years shortly before the Timothy Lake reservoir was created by damming the Oak Grove Fork Clackamas River, shepherds seeded the native mix of meadow plants in the area with Timothy Grass. Timothy Meadows became Timothy Lake, and that probably explains the circular shape of the reservoir. Most reservoirs are long and riverine, whereas Timothy is relatively round, suggesting there was a (smaller) lake basin here in the not-too-distant past.

Built in the post-war era (completed in 1956) when dam building in the western United States was at a fever pitch, the Timothy Lake Dam (as part of Portland General Electric’s Clackamas River Project) made all the hydro promises: renewable energy, flood control, drinking water, recreation. On the latter it delivered in spades: as the largest body of water in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, its four campgrounds and dispersed camping areas are packed to the gills come summertime. Of course there are downsides of messing with rivers, but I’m not going to get into that now, lest I become labelled a Debbie Downer.

This Soundwalk captures Timothy Lake on a crisp October day, when the campgrounds were all closed and only a handful of people were inclined to visit its shores for the day. I had the lakeside trail that leads out to Meditation Point all to myself. On the water I saw Western Grebes, Common Mergansers, and I heard Common Loons in the distance. In the canopy I heard Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Varied Thrushes, among others. A Raven had something to say to me about half way through, rather insistently it seemed. Above all, a pronounced and spacious quiet reigned.

My score focuses on that sense of solitude and tranquility with softly played piano, bell tones, string plucks, woodwinds, and whispering synthesizers. It’s certainly the reigning champ for quietest Chad Crouch soundwalk, for now.

As per usual Timothy Lake Soundwalk is available on all streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple, Tidal, Amazon, YouTube…) tomorrow Mar 29th.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for being here. Enjoy!

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Soundwalk combines roving field recordings with an original musical score. Each episode introduces you to a sound-rich environment, and embarks on an immersive listening journey. It's a mindful, wordless, renewing retreat.
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Chad Crouch