Friday, August 26, 2005

Cascades-Green Lakes w/ Shane

Shane and I had a great opportunity as young son and wandering dad-a get away with just the two of us. An adventure for the lil' 23 month old.
A chance to play in the Three Sisters Wilderness.
We piled up our gear and headed up Fall Creek. The creek runs from Green Lake, a glacier run off lake from Broken Top and South Sister, down to Sparks Lake. This is the upper most watershed of the Deschutes River-one of the largest watersheds in the state. This spot is exactly 20 miles directly and I mean dead west of Bend.

Fall Creek.
The dramatic change of the conifers and other flora combined with the obvious effect of more rain in this area compared to Bend, is very demonstrative of why climatologists are so interested in this area. From the High Cascades to the 20 miles east to Bend is one of the largest precipitation gradients in the world. From the spot of this photo the mountain town of McKenzie Bridge is 20 miles to the west with it's 70 inches of annual precip' while Bend, 20 in the other direction receives just 11 inches. Okay, a little wonky/nerd like, but it really shows how varied Oregon can be and the different climates that you can hike thru' in a day-pretty wild.

Waterfall on Fall Creek.

So when I mentioned us piling up our gear, what I really mean is me packing our small tent, sleeping bag, food etc AND shane on my back. All in all, not too heavy of a load. The cool thing was that along the several mile hike along the creek the lil' guy was anxious to get out of the backpack and run along on his own. Dang that kid is fast!

The key to keeping kids happy and engaged on what seems like LONG drawn out events like a several mile hike is to make many fun stops. Making each stop an event gets them psyched. Every bend turns into another discovery and not an endless drudge along the trail. Here along Fall Creek we threw rocks and played in the water for quite a while. You get your kids to love the outdoors when you absorb yourself in the moment and don't get so destination oriented as we tend to do as adults. If the journey means splashing for a half hour then that's part of the destination.

The slope up to South Sister.

Sometimes the average photo only serves to joggle your memory not be a great photo. This one is so excellent for me. We stopped by this waterfall to check it out and have a snack. Baby Shane is getting sleepy as indicted by the pacifer and I could use a break. So moments after this photo, we sat by the falls and snacked.

The bees that lived where I sat down didn't think that was a good plan. Luckily, I was only stung once. Every mishap in the wilderness is always a great lesson so just as long it doesn't get you into serious trouble. In this case, I did not have an allergic reaction, but the incident made me later shore up my emergency kit to include Benedryl-something I HIGHLY recommend to keep in your small kit that you take on every excursion into the wilderness. At some point in this blog I'll detail my kit which weighs just a few ounces, is the size of your fist and can provide me fire, shelter, food, first aid, light and more for a couple of days if I'm stuck.

Cool falls. I know, crappy picture.

A few miles in, vistas of South Sister, the Central Cascades highest peak at 10,358, come into view. This shield volcano (I'm pretty sure it is) erupted "geologically" yesterday @ the time Buddhism began-1,900 years ago. The eruptions started just as the eruptions on the adjacent Middle Sister subsided a few thousand years earlier. The volcano is still active and has had several recent movements with cone said to be growing a few inches a year.

I turned around from South Sister and took this photo. Broken Top at 9,175 feet is of my favorites. This volcano behind Shane and I is so dang gorgeous and as you might expect, I'm gonna geek out here on volcano talk-sorry.

South Sister being a shield volcano means when it erupts, lava flows are more like the relatively slow oozing that well known in the volcanoes around Hawaii.

Four miles away-peak to peak-is Broken Top, a composite volcano. This means when it erupted about 9,000 years ago, you REALLY did not want to be around. Composite volcanoes are drama queens. They ERUPT. Some examples include Mount St. Helens (Washington), Mount Fuji (Japan), Mount Shasta (California), Mount Rainer (Washington), Mount Cotopaxi (Ecuador). Funny they are all along that angry ring of fire the earth seems to keep telling us is so dangerous.

Composite volcanoes also look different because they are usually steep sided and built up with alternating layers of lava flows, ash, cinders and my fav-bombs-yes lava bombs that fly out of the ground. And yeah, they can range from the size of a stick of butter up to the size of a car. The geologic magic there is one central vent or a tight cluster of vents that pipes the flow up rapidly.
Broken Top, forest and Green Lake. One of the top 10 favorite photos I've ever taken. In full resolution, this photo really shows the drama and contrast of the site, its landscape and color.

Oh and just to close it out. We hung at Green Lake splashing in there for hours. After we camped at Green Lake, I explained to Shane, who can't really talk, that much as I love it out here, it was time to head home. The biggest challenge with hitting the wilderness with a 23 month old is managing the dirty diapers. Ugh. Great motivation to get home so I don't have those things carrying on my pack anymore.
Really though. Camping and backpacking with wee ones just isn't really that hard. Kids are just so flexible and can get engaged so easily if you just jump in with 'em.

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