Little Lava Lake: The start of something big

Visiting Little Lava Lake

Little Lava Lake is a small lake that plays a very big role in Oregon. Located in the shadow of Mt. Bachelor, this lake is the source of the Deschutes River. From here, the river winds and meanders to the Columbia River, 252 miles to the north. This river supports a wide variety of wildlife and also provides water for power, irrigation, and drinking. It’s also an important ingredient in local beers.

Origin of Deschutes River, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017Water from subsurface springs feed the lake. Occasionally water from Lava Lake, just northwest of Little Lava Lake, flows into this lake. Lava flows from past volcanic activity are visible along the shores.

 

To the north, you get great views of the Broken Top and South Sister volcanoes. To the northeast, Mt. Bachelor looms over the forest. It is a really scenic place to visit in a kayak! I like kayaking this lake because it has lots of interesting nooks and crannies.

Volcanic views, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017There are great opportunities to see wildlife around this lake. Rushes and sedges form dense stands along the shorelines. Lodgepole pine forests border the lake.

Volcanic views, Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017On a cool September day as I kayaked around the lake, I saw common mergansers, mallards, a bald eagle, a great blue heron, a Lewis’ woodpecker, a winter wren, and many northern flickers and mountain chickadees. I heard nuthatches and ravens calling from the woods. Douglas’ squirrels and chipmunks were up to their usual mischief near the shoreline.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017About Little Lava Lake

Little Lava Lake is 138-acres in size with an average depth of eight feet and a maximum depth of 18 feet. The lake is at an elevation of 4,750 feet. It’s located about 38 miles southwest of Bend, Oregon. Little Lava Lake is stocked with rainbow trout that average 6-12 inches in size. We caught a beautiful 12-inch rainbow trolling from a kayak. The brook trout population in the lake is self-sustaining. Whitefish and tui chub also live in this lake. For more details on fishing at Little Lava Lake, click here (on the Fishing tab) or here.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017There is a boat launch on the eastern shore at Little Lava Lake. A Northwest Forest Service Pass is required here. Motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake.

Little Lava Lake, Oregon 28Sept2017Little Lava Lake Campground is located on the western shore of the lake. It has 13 campsites and two tent-only group sites. Lava Lake Resort is right next door. There is a store there and boat rentals, RV camping, gas, and oil. There are MANY trails nearby to explore.

Beyond the facade: Malheur’s treasures

This old building may appear dull and pedestrian to some. If you look beyond the peeling paint and overgrown yard, you will experience an environment alive with color and song. This building is one of the dorms at Malheur Field Station located near the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.  Birds, and birdwatchers, flock to this oasis in the High Desert of Oregon.

Malheur Field Station, Princeton, Oregon 8April2017

Many people have learned about this area through classes at the field station and visits to the refuge. Stop on by if you are ever in the area!

Benson Boat Landing Sunset at Malheur NWR May1982 SiobhanSullivan

Weekly Photo Challenge – Pedestrian

Bitterroot blossoms & leaves

The leaves of a plant usually frame a beautiful flower. In the case of the bitterroot plant, the flowers are so “big” you hardly notice the leaves. These delicate flowers are only about an inch and a half across.

Bitterroot blossoms near Gray Butte, Oregon 22May2016

In the early spring months, you might notice the narrow succulent leaves of the plant sprouting up long before they flower. They are so small that you may overlook them. Here’s what they look like.

Bitterroot leaves in the spring near Tumalo, Oregon 9April2017

This plant was very important to Native Americans in western North America. The roots were dried and mixed with berries and meat. The plants were also used medicinally. Bitterroot roots were collected and traded and they were an item of high value. For more about them, visit my post – Desert Bitterroot Oasis.

Here are a few pictures of the blossoms from that post. They are a very small plant with tiny leaves, large blossoms, and enormous beauty. One of my favorites!

Friday Flowers

via Daily Prompt: Leaf

Beer Flowers

Here’s a picture of the flowers on some hops plants. Here in the Bend area, there are many breweries (about 30) so it’s not uncommon to see this plant. Yes, it helps flavor beer, but it’s also a pretty plant with a distinctive aroma.

Beer flowers - Hops in Bend, Oregon 27August2017

What makes beer so good in Bend

Good water = good beer - Benham Falls 23Oct2014

Benham Falls on the Deschutes River

Why are there so many breweries here? One big reason is the water. The relatively soft and flavorful water requires little processing. Water has a strong influence on the taste of the beer.

I saw the hops flowers near the Deschutes Brewery plant in the Old Mill district of Bend. The air was thick with the scent of brewing beer early this morning. Deschutes Brewery opened in 1988 and it was one of the first craft breweries in the Pacific Northwest.

To learn more about beer in this area, see my post Bend=Beer.  The post mentions an exhibit at the High Desert Museum. Though the exhibit is no longer at the Museum, you can taste many different types of beer in Bend.

You can get samples of  beer from 16 of the breweries on The Bend Ale Trail. If you complete the trail, you’ll get a souvenir. Click here for more info.

A new tasting room in Bend

Yesterday we visited The Ale Apothecary’s new tasting room. This brewery does small runs of beer that are aged in oak barrels. They have truly unique flavors. There is a hollowed out log in the tasting room to show you one of the tools they sometimes use to create their drinks. The beer filters through branches in the log and ages for four to six months. That process was developed in the 1500’s in Finland.

The Ale Apothecary brewer Paul Arney once stated that “a brewery is designed to the place…the environment affects the flavor of the beer”. Bend is fortunate because it’s located in a great environment that is a feast for the senses and the origin of some great beers!

Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Structure. I immediately thought of our recent trip to the five national parks in Utah. The structure of the rocks and geological features is complimented by the trees in these parks. Whether dead and twisting, or green and contrasting, the trees are a main character in an interesting landscape.

Arches National Park, Utah 3May2017

Arches National Park, Utah

The arches are amazing at Arches National Park and standing dead trees add to the scene. You can see Double Arch in the background.

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah 4May2017

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I loved these fences made from old juniper wood in Canyonlands National Park. They helped keep people on the trail and were nice to look at too.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 5May2017

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The rainbow of colors in the cliffs of this canyon in Capitol Reef National Park were complimented by the bright green of the trees. A storm was moving in in this picture.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A windswept pine tree clings to the edge of a cliff in Bryce Canyon National Park. Puffy white clouds (like in “The Simpsons” cartoons) float gracefully in the background.

Zion National Park 6May2017

Zion National Park

Colorful and tilting structures in the rock, line a tree-filled canyon in Zion National Park. A few wispy clouds hang over the valley.

The national parks in Utah are full of interesting structures both large and small. The geology of the region tells a dramatic story. The trees and other plants living here have adapted to harsh conditions. The wildlife living here takes advantage of the local environment.

Take the time to look up but also to look down when you visit these parks. Each park is a little different from the others and each one has amazing sights worth seeing. The forces of Nature are strong here.

Solar Eclipse Success!

We traveled half an hour from our house to see the eclipse in the Path of Totality. Success!

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

Here’s some pictures I took right before the moon covers the sun.

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017Eclipse5 21Aug2017Eclipse6 21Aug2017Eclipse7 21Aug2017

My partial pictures are not quite as good because I was trying to figure out the best place for the filter.

We viewed the eclipse from Ochoco Wayside State Park, just west of Prineville, Oregon. The road up to the park was closed when we arrived there at 6:30 am so we hiked about 1/2 mile up the hill to meet more of our group who had arrived there earlier. Smoke from wildfires gave us an interesting sunrise from the 3,048 foot peak.

Sunrise Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

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Otter Bench hike near Crooked River Ranch, Oregon

The Otter Bench Trail gives you some breathtaking views of the Crooked River. The trail head is near the town of Crooked River Ranch and the trail goes along the base of the cliffs bordering the river. We walked a couple miles in, stopped for lunch, and then headed back. There is little elevation change on the section we hiked but if you decide to head down to the river, it gets steep.

Otter Bench hike, Crooked River, Oregon 17April2017

The trail goes through juniper and sagebrush habitat and along rocky talus slopes. If you go off the trail a little ways, you can walk to the edge of cliffs that enclose the river far below. If you have a fear of heights, don’t get too close to that edge. A turkey vulture flew by at eye height when we were close to the edge. Hope it wasn’t waiting for a meal!

You get a good view of some of the geological forces at work here. The basalt columns in the lower cliffs are part of the Deschutes formation. Above them you can see light tan colored tuff. Far above the tuff area you will see more columnar basalt and it is part of the most recent Newberry formation.

There is a small dam on the river a few miles from the trail head.

There are golden eagles nesting on the cliffs and you can see how easy it was for them to find a nest site here. The Horny Hollow Trail forks off from the main trail but it’s closed seasonally when the birds are nesting. It was closed when we were there but I saw eagles flying above the highest cliffs in the distance.

I heard and saw quite a few songbirds on this hike in April. The list of species seen includes Townsend’s solitaire, black billed magpie, mountain chickadee, Brewer’s sparrow, and western meadowlark. It was nice to hear some of these songsters again.

As temperatures begin to warm up, the high desert starts its wildflower show. We saw big showy arrowhead balsamroot, purple phlox and rock cress, delicate pink prairie stars, yellow fiddleneck, larkspur, and white miner’s lettuce. After a particularly hard winter we were grateful to see these bursts of color.

This trail passes through Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Crooked River National Grassland, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife land. There is no fee to use the trail and there’s a good parking area at the trail head.

Here is a map that shows the Otter Bench trail:

Otter_Bench_Crooked_River_Ranch_Trails

Here are driving directions from BLM:

Directions to Otter Bench Trailhead from Highway 97 From Highway 97, just north of Terrebonne, turn left on to Lower Bridge Road (Sign with left arrow says “Crooked River Ranch”). After 2 miles turn right on 43rd St. After 1.7 miles turn left on Chinook Dr. After 5 miles (including a steep descent), go straight on to Horny Hollow Rd (do not take Chinook back up the switchback) Go 1.7 miles to the end of the pavement and park there.

Kingbird surveying his realm

This western kingbird distracted us while we were on a field trip looking for Swainson’s hawks and ground squirrels. Their bright color and bold personality forces you to take notice of them.

Western Kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

Western kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

You can see part of Fort Rock in the background on the left. To learn more about the cave with ancient artifacts near there, see my post here. For information on the great museum at Fort Rock, see my post here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!

Friday Flowers & Flag Bridge

Just couldn’t resist posting one more picture of a bridge.  The color of the flags on the bridge are changed with the various seasons, holidays, and events.  This bridge is not far from the one I posted on Wednesday.  The bridge is in Bend, Oregon and it goes over the Deschutes River.  There are some nice trails to walk on near the river.  It’s also fun to inner tube, kayak, and stand up paddle board here. Colorful flowers around the area are in full bloom.

Bridge at Old Mill, Bend, Oregon 7July2017Flowers and bridge in the Old Mill district, Bend, Oregon 7July2017

Weekly Photo Challenge – Bridge

Visiting Westworld

In search of Westworld

Do you enjoy watching the HBO series Westworld? When I first watched the show, I wondered where some of the stunning outdoor shots had been filmed. Interesting land features and sunny skies serve as a backdrop in this series. I found out that several filming locations were in Utah so we visited them on a recent trip.

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah 3May2017

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Origins of Westworld

This series is based on the 1973 Westworld movie, written and directed by Michael Crichton. In this sci-fi classic, wealthy tourists visit an Old West-themed amusement park where they can indulge in any of their fantasies with no consequences. The “hosts” in the park appear to be human but they are actually androids. Though the skies appear to always be sunny, there are dark plot twists involving the hosts in both the movie and the series.

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah 4May2017

Castle Valley near Moab, Utah

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy worked on the screenplay for the new series. It debuted on HBO in October of 2016. You may have heard of Jonathan’s brother, Christopher Nolan. The two of them co-wrote the screenplays for The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and several other successful films. Jonathan worked as a writer, director, and executive producer on the Westworld series, roles he also held for the Person of Interest series. Continue reading