Second Visit to Bend

Bend, OR

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.

Mt. Hood

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.

Where did the mountains go?

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.

Paulina Peak

The caldera below the peak contains two lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake, as well as an Obsidian Flow area.

Paulina Lake on the left, East Lake in the upper right, the Obsidian Flow in the lower right

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.

John’s red shirt reflecting in the obsidian

Looking up at Paulina Peak from the flow

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.

View to the north

Mt. Bachelor in the view to the south

Interesting mushroom along the trail

Another one

South Sister Mt. and Broken Top Mt. peak out in the distance

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.

South Sister on the left and Broken Top on the right

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.

Pam and Vic await our arrival outside McMenamin’s

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 . . .

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15 Responses to Second Visit to Bend

  1. Laurel says:

    Wow, seeing the photos of the smoke really shows how terrible it is. I just heard the Sister’s Folk Festival has been cancelled, for the first time in 22 years. So sad. The fires and smoke are devastating. It’s been the same in our hometown of Ashland — our renters texted us photos yesterday and I couldn’t believe how bad it is there. :-((
    Glad you guys got out for a bit of exploration — it sounds like you’re making the best of a challenging situation. Your berry galette looks fabulous!

  2. Jim and Barb says:

    Our son and family really like that area as well. They spent last fall in Band and are currently in Klamath Falls. He says it is beautiful with lots of fishing in the area!

  3. exploRVistas says:

    So glad Paulina Peak and the Obsidian Flow were decent for you. Newberry is such a cool place!

  4. Box Canyon Blogger Mark says:

    Loved all the Mc Menqmins we visited, and that they purchase and renovate old properties set for demolishing.
    Ugh…I can almost smell the smoke is a couple of those photos.

  5. Susan Bank says:

    You were able to get to a few places in the Bend area that are on my list, thanks for showing them to us! The last time we were there, snow was the problem. I like the shot of John’s red shirt in the obsidian. I wonder….do they use it for surgical instruments today? If not, why not? I know, I know, google it. When I first looked at the picture of the “pit stop” I thought it was one of the tiny houses people are so crazy about these days!

  6. Well at least it cleared up enough to do a few things! I hope you manage to avoid the smoke as you continue south!

  7. Glad you were able to get out a bit despite the smoke. We thought Sparks Lake was one of the most scenic lakes in that area, but it doesn’t look very appealing in your photos!

  8. girlonahike says:

    Glad you were able to escape some of the smoke – it’s really bad in Utah. Not only are we getting the fire smoke from the West, but also several local fires. It’s so sad & hard to breathe in!

    Alicia @

  9. pmbweaver says:

    What a beautiful photo of the monster!
    Oh my gosh. That smoke is horrible!
    Never heard of obsidian. Very pretty.
    A soaking tub…lol
    Looks like a couple of really nice and different hikes.

  10. Sherry says:

    What great pictures of Mount Hood. I’m so surprised to see it so clear in Oregon after reading about all the fires and smoke and haze. Sorry you ran into it in Bend. That’s an incredible picture of REI. Hope you aren’t having breathing problems. Glad you were able to get out on some trails in spite of it all. Very interesting about obsidian scalpels. Love the shot of John walking through it in his red shirt. The Sparks Lake picture is really lovely. How great to be able to see Pam and Vic. I wish she’d put up a blog every once in a while about what they are up to.

  11. Debbie L says:

    Wow, appreciate the before and after pictures. Great scenery and hikes. Hope the fires are under control. So many natural disasters these days.

  12. I think that you should make a third visit, in fall when Bend is at its best fall colors!

  13. Gay says:

    So glad you got a few outdoor activities in. Such a beautiful area…love all the lakes!

  14. Jodee Gravel says:

    Happy to see there was some clearer skies to be found where you could get out to see the beauty. Love the obsidian! Devil’s Lake looks like a beauty.

  15. geogypsy2u says:

    Bummer that when you got back to Bend there was so much fire and smoke. At first I thought that red on the obsidian was blood. McMenamin’s are always an interesting place to go.

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