Monday, May 25, 2009

Lava Cast Forest and Paulina Mountains

Cast of ancient tree surrounded by lava, then rotted away over 7,000 years.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument has a vast area to explore and all within an hour of Bend. A lesser know area is the Lava Cast Forest and the Paulina Mountains.
Overview of area, US 97 in the upper left, Paulina & East Lakes bottom right.
The Lava Cast Forest was formed about 7,000 years ago when Newberry Volcano erupted. The flow spilled around existing trees that left molds or casts of their existence.
The 'hike' around this area is a paved path (due to the fragile nature of the landscape). 

The second part of this day was to sample some midsized lava buttes in the Paulina Mountains. I drove a few more miles into the forest and headed in near Pilpil Butte
Hike around Paulina Mountains
Unusual lava formations pop up as remnant 'bombs' of lava shot out of Newberry. 

Meadow east of Paulina Mountains.
Paulina Mountains peak-my afternoon destination.
One of the things I really like about this type of jaunt is the feeling that not many folks have ever been to the area you are walking on. You discover interesting things about yourself as your mind is fully entrenched in the moment of wayfinding.

Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters.
Hike Length: 7 miles Hike Duration: day hike
Hike Configuration: loop Blaze: open forest, no trail

Start Elevation: 6,450 feet Highest Point: 7,516 feet Elevation Gain: 1,066 feet

Hike Rating: easy to moderate, some bushwhacking

Trail Condition: walking on dry soil by May, some patches of snow remain

Starting Point: FS Road 9710

Trail Traffic: not a soul

Access:  open, AWD vehicle recommended, sketchy access road

How to Get There:From Bend, south US 97 to Lava Butte, left onto Lava Cast Forest Road FS Road 9720. Follow about 8.5 miles to Lava Cast Forest campground. To get to Paulina Mountain loop from there: Turn right after leaving campground, at about 1.75 miles, turn right onto FS Road 9710. Follow for 6.5 miles to around Pilpil Butte.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Opal Creek Upper Watershed

The Opal Creek Wilderness is a lush forest with old growth and tons of water. The creek lives up to it's color namesake. I hiked deep into the wilderness in early May where snow still lingered.

It's a strange feeling as you go deeper into the wilderness. There were many eras of mining in this region and remants are everywhere. You'll walk for several hours and then suddenly come upon rail tracks. It's a mixed vibe. You feel like you've discovered some lost civilization and you also feel like these artifacts are trash in the landscape left behind.