Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cascade Mountains

Getting out and about

Blogging with one bar of wifi tests a person's patience taking us back to the days of dial up internet. But blogging has been a good way for us to keep our memories nearby. Looking back at previous posts, we are amazed by all of the things we have been fortunate to do, often having a good laugh at ourselves in the process. 

We have been fortunate that the temperatures in La Pine, OR have been 10 degrees cooler than usual most of July. It is the high desert after all. Waking to temps in the 40s gave us the morning to get outside before turning on the air conditioner for the afternoon.

Hiking the Green Lake Trail

 We hiked 8 miles on the Green Lakes Trail on a previous visit and had a added bonus this time, thick swarms of fat mosquitos. We picked up our backcountry permit before setting out, armed with bug repellent, which I think the mosquitos crave, long sleeves and pants, in no time sweat was running down my face. This was the first time we have had our backcountry permit checked by a ranger as he hiked down the trail in full mosquito combat gear, including face netting. The temperature hit 60 degrees and we were going uphill without a breeze.
The steps were even bigger when we returned from the 8 mile hike requiring sound effects as we lifted our tired legs.
No stopping for pictures on the trail or the mosquitos would overwhelm us.
The Green Lakes Trail runs next to the river with cascades and waterfalls most of the way to Green Lake.

Snow in July?
We made it to Green Lake overlooking the South Sister. Then it was all downhill from there. A breeze started to blow up the mountain. The mosquitos thinned out and millions of butterflies dive bombed us and I quit sweating.

After our hike, we slowly carried our chairs across the parking lot to Sparks Lake to take in the view of the mountain we had been hiking on. It felt good to put our feet in the cold water for a while and have a picnic.

Cycling the Cascade Highway

We rode some routes out of Sun River (uphill) and to La Pine (flat) from the campground that had little traffic on days that we weren't riding the dusty single track in the park.

Bend, Oregon

Bend is experiencing the same growing pains that many tourist communities are. We only visited when we needed to make a Walmart run, planing our driving route to avoid intersections without stoplights to avoid being stuck at a corner for a long wait.

Newberry Volcano National Monument

Exploring the Newberry Crater ( a caldera) is a great way to learn about  the violent, geological history that helped make Central Oregon the beautiful place it is. Newberry National Volcanic Monument has two lakes in its caldera, Paulina and East. Both lakes have hot springs on their shores. 

We heard that the Little Crater Trail has scenic views of two lakes, Paulina Peak and the Big Obsidian Flow but managed to miss the switchback to the rim. As we were walking below the rim, I started thinking that the trail wasn't very well maintained. We turned around and tried our Hiking Project app. Fortunately, we had enough bars on the phone to use the app and found that we were off trail. Once we got back on track, it was a sweet walk around the rim.
We missed the turn to take us to the wall above Mike.

Back on track.

View from top of Paulina Peak. Paulina Lake to the left, east to the right and Obsidian Flow middle.
Top of the Big Obsidian lava flow
Lunch at the grill and fishing camp on East Lake at the end of the road.

The Paulina Lake Hot Springs is a two-mile walk along the east shore of the lake, starting from the  Little Crater Trailhead. After lunch we reached the East Lake Hot Springs from the Hot Spring boat ramp, walking along the beach until we smelled the sulfa aroma. The pools are too small for soaking but we watched the bubbling up of the springs warming the lake. It was a reminder that this volcano is still active and is monitored for earthquake and increased lava pressure underground.
We avoided campground host positions originally because we thought they would be too restrictive.. Having great host partners (Tom and Mary) made it even better. We would cover for each other when we wanted to get away.

Heart of Oregon

Heart of Oregon's campsite along the Deschutes River in the day use area. They provide vocational training to youth ages 16-24 to create pathways out of poverty for youth and encourage self-sufficiency. In addition to teaching job skills, the projects help keep the community beautiful and healthy, while earning wages to stimulate regional economic growth. The park would have a difficult time running without the work of the Corp, volunteers and seasonal rangers. It takes a lot of effort to keep a place running smoothly.

Hannah, one of the seasonal rangers, lead Saturday yoga in La Pine State Park. Pretty nice. Yep those are Mike's knees on the right.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Heading to La Pine

Heading to Central Oregon

Different places fit for different phases of life. What is right today may not be right next year.

Spending time at the ocean was a nice treat. But returning to the mountains is like going home.  Mike grew up in Vermont and Deb in Colorado may have something to do with that. Stopping in Oakridge, OR on our way to La Pine State Park, our campsite overlooked the Salmon Creek. We fell asleep to the sound of the rushing water. 

I took a walk along the creek before we prepared to leave the next morning. A tiny Japanese woman joined me and shared with me her story of her journey to the US. She was so impressed that anyone that wanted to work in the US could get a job even if they were a woman or from another country. She seemed lonely and thanked me for our visit as we parted ways. I assured her that I also enjoyed our visit very much.
We are leery of turning on roads while towing the trailer when we don't know if there is a place to turn around once we've committed ourselves. I had picked out a hike to two waterfalls that I really wanted to take and the GPS showed what looked like a loop to turn around easily. So we took a chance that worked out well. Shew! I was sweating that one a little bit.
Salt Creek Falls was a short walk from the parking lot. But Diamond Creek Falls was another 1 1/2 miles. Once we stepped off the paved walkway, we were all alone, except for the mosquitos, for a lovely walk in the woods.

Our home for the next month

Not having a volunteer position booked for July, we jumped at the chance to spend a month at La Pine State Park near Bend, OR in the Cascade Mountain Range due to a cancellation. Expectations for hosts are as different as each park. Our job in the "historic" (old) section of the campground, in our opinions, is the best. The older section has much more space between sites and quieter at night. The roads are so rough, no speed bumps are required to slow down speeders. Once they round the first corner, they suddenly slow down. Great for small kids on bikes.

We turn the reserve signs each morning and picked up any paper (or unused wood) left behind. Then we wrap fire wood bundles to set out for sale. While around our campsite we answer questions but are free to come and go as we pleased.
The Deschutes River runs through La Pine SP making a great place to mountain bike or walk. The 15 miles of mountain bike trails aren't difficult but have plenty of ups and downs, winding through the trees and by waterfalls to keep us on our toes making it easy to get away without the need to drive for an outing. We come home pretty dusty each day because of the dry high desert climate. 
We have been lucky with cooler than usual temps. 

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry Volcano in Newberry National Volcanic Monument is the largest volcano in the Cascade Range. We had hiked parts of the monument on our visit three years ago and is less than 10 miles from our campsite to Lake Paulina. 

One early morning, we headed to La Pine's grocery store but took a detour to Newberry when we saw the heavy 4th of July holiday traffic on Highway 97. We hiked along the 7 mile lake trail before the weekenders got up. The trail was getting busy as we were finishing up our walk and we made it home in time to do a few of our tasks.

Paulina Falls
Paulina Lake Trail 
The month is flying by and we sleep well at night. A pretty good place for this phase of our lives.

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