Today I took a hike up Gray Butte, northeast of Terrebonne, Oregon. It was a nice hike with lots of wildflowers and spectacular views. This view is from the edge of the Crooked River Caldera looking west to Mount Jefferson, on the right, and Black Butte, on the left. The rocks in the foreground are splattered with messages left by lichens.
My place in the world is out in the wild places of central Oregon. From dry sagebrush steppe in a caldera to lush meadows bordered by pine forests. There are so many special places to explore…
Weekly Photo Challenge – Place in the World
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.
Water 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.
There are great opportunities to see wildlife around this lake. Rushes and sedges form dense stands along the shorelines. Lodgepole pine forests border the lake.
On 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 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.
There 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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Tucked away in Oregon’s Outback, you will find a unique place that hearkens back to an earlier time. The Cowboy Dinner Tree is a small restaurant located in Silver Lake Oregon, about an hour and a half southeast of Bend. The restaurant is only open from 4:00-8:30 pm four days per week and reservations are required. They give you ample portions of food here and you are advised to bring a cooler for leftovers. They do not take credit cards or debit cards so have cash on hand.
You have your choice of a 26-30 oz. top sirloin steak or a whole roasted chicken. Both are accompanied by several tasty side dishes. There is green salad, hearty soup, old fashioned sweet yeast rolls, baked potato, and a dessert. You can have coffee, iced tea, or pink lemonade with your meal. On the day we were there, they served bean soup and a small shortcake with fresh berries. Everything is homemade and made daily.
Many years ago, ranchers pushed their cattle through this area on the way to the lush meadows of Sycan Marsh. The Dinner Tree, a big old juniper tree, was at the halfway-point. There was a small shack where the restaurant now sits and hungry ranchers stopped here for some grub from the chuck wagon. The food they had then was probably buckaroo beans and biscuits – not the large meal now served at the Cowboy Dinner Tree. The site was a homestead back in the late 1800’s and it was converted into a restaurant in 1992.
Today the Cowboy Dinner Tree is a popular destination. They have a restaurant, gift store, and a couple of cabins for lodging. The lodging has been so popular that they are in the process of adding five additional cabins. The gift store features items crafted by local artisans and craftspeople.
We arrived at about 4:30 pm and the place was filling up fast. We had a large group so we shared a long table but there are also smaller tables available. The place is decorated with cowboy print curtains and lots of related items such as horse bits, ropes, stirrups, and saddles. Dollar bills scrawled with notes from customers adorn the walls and ceiling.
The food was great and the server, Cowboy Dinner Tree owner Angel Roscoe, was very attentive. She and her husband, John, took over the restaurant from her mom in 2012. You will not leave feeling hungry that’s for sure! As their website says – Join us for a taste of the real Old West.