The day we hiked at Paulina Lake, 25 miles east of Bend, the weather forecast was a bit iffy. In fact, the location for our hike had been changed to a warmer locale but we decided to go for it.
Paulina Lake sits at 6,350 feet in elevation and snow was predicted. We started our hike at Paulina Lake Lodge and hiked two and a half miles to the hot springs. We ran into snow, rain, hail, and sun on that October day.
The trail hugged the side of the lake so we had good views of it the whole way. Paulina Lake, and it’s fraternal twin East Lake, sit in a caldera that formed after Newberry volcano blew and then collapsed. Paulina Lake is 1,531 acres in size with depths up to 250 feet. To learn more about the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, click here for one of my previous posts.
The trail was relatively smooth with little elevation gain. At the beginning of the trail there were a few areas where the trail had been cut through fallen timber. In parts of the trail, the soil was brick red reflecting it’s volcanic origins. Lichens covered tree trunks in shades of fluorescent green.
A lakeshore hot spring
As we made our way towards the hot springs, a cool breeze blew over the lake. I have been to a dozen hot springs and this one is a little unusual. The small springs sit along the shoreline of the lake and people dig them out to increase their size. They are only visible when the water levels are low. I did not try them out on this cold day but I have heard two or three of them are a “cool” 95 ° F while the other is about 110° F. It is weird that they are such a cool temperature when recent research determined that the magma beneath the lakes reaches a temperature of 654 ° F.
Fishing at this lake can be very good. The state record brown trout, at 27 pounds 12 ounces, and state record kokanee, at 4 pounds 2 ounces, were caught here. There are also rainbow trout in the lake. People troll fish, cast, or still fish here depending on the season. There is a boat ramp at the lodge and at Little Crater and Paulina Campgrounds. Click here for more info on Paulina Lake and the fishing opportunities there.
We are lucky here in Bend to have artists such as Greg Congleton who can transform collections of various items into beautiful works of art. To see more of his unique artwork, like this horse of a different color, click here.
Have they been “playing God” at Whychus Creek near Sisters, Oregon? I have witnessed the destruction of habitat before but never the restoration on such a huge scale. I went to the Whychus Canyon Preserve recently with the Deschutes Land Trust on a tour of the project. They and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council, with the support of several other agencies and nonprofits, started to do field work on rehabilitating six miles of the creek in 2016. It is an enormous undertaking and it’s expected to take around seven years to complete.
Restoration in progress
Whychus Creek is a 41-mile long waterway that has its origin in the Cascade Mountains. It flows through the city of Sisters, forested, and agricultural lands to eventually enter the Deschutes River. Historically, it provided prime habitat for spawning, rearing, and migration of redband trout, spring Chinook, and summer steelhead. Continue reading →
If you’re looking for a short hike to a couple small, quiet lakes, try out the hike to Blow Lake and Doris Lake southwest of Bend. It’s only a mile to Blow Lake and another mile and a half from there to Doris Lake. There are 400 feet of elevation gain. You can park at the Six Lakes Trailhead along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. As the trail name implies, there are six wilderness lakes to explore here.
Doris Lake, Oregon
The elevation here is 5,310 feet and you pass through subalpine forest on your way to the lakes. Blow Lake is 45 acres in size. Windfall trees form a frame along one edge of the lake and can be seen resting on the bottom of this clear lake. Doris Lake, a mile and a half away, is slightly larger at 69 acres in size.
Fall foliage looked beautiful during late September. Huckleberry leaves showed a lot of color. Even the meadow grasses and sedges showed shades of red along their golden edges.
We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on that particular day but did see gray jays, red-breasted nuthatch, mountain chickadees, and ravens. Both lakes contain brook trout that can get up to 14” in size.
Be prepared on any trips you make into the backcountry and help to preserve its beauty for the rest of us. Thanks!
Looking out of the mouth of the Fort Rock cave at the Sagebrush Sea, one can only imagine the thoughts of those that lived there thousands of years ago. Sagebrush sandals, found inside Fort Rock Cave, were determined to be 9,300-10,250 years old. These sandals are the oldest ever found in the world.
A small hearth was found in the cave and it was radiocarbon dated to be 15,000 years old. Several stone tools were found nearby. Though that date was questioned by some, in 2009 human coprolites (fossilized poop) determined to be from 14,300 years ago were found in nearby Paisley Cave. In 2009 a multiple function tool made from agate was discovered in Rimrock Draw Rock Shelter, near Riley, Oregon. It may have been made as long ago as 16,000 years ago.
Other ancient sandals have been found but never in the quantity found at Fort Rock. Nearly 100 sandals were found ranging from child-sized to adult. They are all the same style with a flat bottom and flap covering the toe area. The sagebrush bark is woven in a distinctive twining style. Sandals of this type were found at various locations in southeast Oregon and northern Nevada. In more recent times, ethnographers found that members of the Klamath and Paiute tribes, who lived in the Fort Rock area, wore footwear woven from sagebrush and tule.
Inside Fort Rock Cave in the past and present
The location where the sandals were found was likely a lake shore 10,000 years ago. Native peoples may have lived there because of the easy access to game, fish, and edible plants. At the present time, the cave borders a huge expanse of dry sagebrush steppe habitat. The climate changed after Mount Mazama blew 7,600 years ago. A thick layer of ash from that eruption blanketed an area covering 500,000 square miles in western North America.
If you want to see this site, you will need to go with a guide since access is regulated by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with the University of Oregon. Go here for more information – Fort Rock Cave.
River otters are very well adapted to their water environment. When you watch them you can’t help but smile and think they look like they are living a joyful life. Here is one showing its otter joy by giving a big smile for the camera.
Exploring the Deschutes River near Sunriver, Oregon
We recently went on a nice leisurely kayak trip down the Deschutes River. We parked one car at Benham Falls East Day Use area and parked the other one where we launched at Harper’s Bridge in Sunriver, Oregon. It took a little over 3 1/2 hours on a warm September day. The trip is about 10 river miles long.
This is a meandering river that passes through beautiful meadows and forested areas. We saw a few people close to the Sunriver Marina but then didn’t see many once we paddled past the Sunriver development. This float ended near parts of the lava lands of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
We saw some interesting things along the way.
There were horseback riders and bicyclists stirring up dust on the riverside trail.
A young mallard came right up to me. Maybe it thought I was its Mom. :)
The footbridge spanning the river has beautiful architecture.
Know before you go
The river was calm and placid the day we went out. You should always check ahead of time for conditions. I recommend getting the Deschutes Paddle Trail River Guide published by the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance if you plan to do much paddling here. It includes the level of difficulty and where the access points are. You can flip through detailed maps covering 26 miles of the Little Deschutes River and 95 miles of the Deschutes River. It will help you find sections that match your skill level and avoid sections that are dangerous. Deschutes is French for “falls” and this river has a lot of them so know where they are before you take off.
I’m ending this post with a photo that I took of Benham Falls on a hike a couple of years ago. You may be able to see why parts of the falls are rated as Class V – “extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids…” The ability to do Eskimo rolls in this section is considered “essential.” I think I will just appreciate their beauty from the shore!
When I start feeling nostalgic about Yellowstone National Park, I know I can always go back and look at some of my many pictures. They remind me of my great Yellowstone memories. Maybe these bears were out looking for a pic-a-nic basket. 😉