We left Portland way back on August 26th and headed back to Bend. Since our motorhome overheating problem had been repaired (we hoped), we decided to take US 26 up past the base of Mt. Hood. While not as steep as routes through Colorado, we thought it would be a good test of the repairs.
Fortunately (We better have good fortune after all the money we spent!) the coach performed perfectly. In fact, it had more power than ever and maintained a normal temperature going up past the mountain.
When we stayed in Bend in late May and early June, some of the areas we wanted to hike were still closed due to deep snow. So part of our reason for returning was to explore some of those mountain trails we missed. Unfortunately, there are a number of major fires just to the west of town and the mountains were covered with smoke upon our arrival. As an example of the thickness of the smoke, the REI in Bend is located in an old mill with three towering smoke stacks visible for miles. Below is a photo of them on a clear day.
Now look at a photo taken from US 97 as we drove through town one day.
On the east side of town is Pilot Butte, which rises 500 feet and has a great view of the area. Below is a photo taken looking west on a “fairly” clear day.
Below is another photo taken at the same spot on a smoky day.
With the poor air quality we were forced to limit our hiking adventures. One day it looked clear to our south so we headed in that direction to visit the top of Paulina Peak (which was closed for snow during our last visit). The peak is the highest point on the edge of the Newberry Caldera, formed from a volcanic eruption many thousands of years ago. A narrow dirt road leads up to the peak.
The caldera below the peak contains two lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake, as well as an Obsidian Flow area.
After exploring the peak we drove back down to the trailhead for the Obsidian Flow which was ice covered in early June.
From the parking area we hiked a short distance to a set of stairs leading up into the flow. A loop trail of just under a mile makes its way through the rocks.
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as igneous rock. It is produced when lava from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. Obsidian is hard and brittle, causing it to fracture with very sharp edges. Native Americans used it in cutting and piercing tools and it has been used experimentally as surgical scalpel blades.
On Saturday we headed to the Northwest Crossing area of town for their weekly summer farmer’s market. One of our favorite things about Oregon is the abundance of fresh berries. This market did not disappoint in that area!
It wasn’t very long before that flat of fruit was turned into a delicious treat!
We wanted to drive up the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to hike some of the many mountain lakes but smoke and fires kept us out of the area until the very end of our stay. Things finally cleared enough for us to drive up for a hike around Todd Lake.
At the trailhead we came upon one of the nicest “restroom” facilities we have seen in our travels. We didn’t check out the inside but the exterior made it a very attractive spot to spend some quality time with nature!
Todd Lake is a natural lake named in honor of John Y. Todd, an early settler in Central Oregon. A trail of a bit less than two miles circles the lake’s shoreline.
We returned to the Jeep and drove a few miles further up the highway for a visit to Sparks Lake. Named for a 19th-century rancher, “Lige” Sparks, the lake is a remnant of a bigger lake that has partly filled with sediment and vegetation.
We hiked part of the Ray Atkeson Trail, named for a famed nature photographer. Part of the trail goes through Davis Canyon, a fissure 16 feet deep in parts and as little as 2 feet wide.
We also drove up for a quick look at nearby Devil’s Lake. We knew the trails were closed due to nearby fire danger but wanted to take a peak at the lake.
The night before our departure we met friends, Pam and Vic, at a local restaurant for dinner. We met them a few years ago during a winter stay near Bradenton. They were full-timers at that time but have since settled into a beautiful home in Bend.
This unique facility is located in and around the former St. Francis School, the first parochial school in Oregon. It is has a hotel, a movie theater, a soaking tub, and a number of pubs and restaurants, including the Broom Closet (a small pub accessed through a hidden door in a broom closet!). Be sure to check it out if you visit Bend.
We now head south with a short stop in Klamath Falls, about 130 miles south of Bend, before heading into California. Our plan is to visit nearby Crater Lake during that stop if the smoke in that area subsides. More on that later . . .