Hiking in Central Oregon, Part 2

Hiking in Central Oregon, Part 2

Paulina Lake Resort–the Night

We didn’t get back till about six thirty in the evening.  We were tired.  God, that restaurant seemed like a good idea!  So, after washing up, we stepped into the coziest eating-place I have ever been in. 

At the first beginning of dusk, the temperature started to drop from the mid-seventies of the daytime temperature.  Washing up had been done at an outside washroom.  The restaurant consisted of seven tables and a small Sunday night crowd of about eight guests, husband and wife-owners, the cook, and a female employee.  There was a roaring fire in a Franklin-type stove.  The group was beginning to celebrate the cook’s birthday.  Cake with candles, and drinks on the house, and the traditional song.  Beef stew and cornbread with honey butter.  Meanwhile the mountain twilight was retreating toward a moonlit night.  Turning from the merriment for a moment, we could press close to the small window pane near our table and see the night pressing in.  Hot coffee came out of the corner near the kitchen.  The house special was cinnamon rolls.  Would we have one to finish the meal?  Cinnamon rolls go well with coffee.  Even I can remember that, can’t you?  Everyone began to talk with everyone else.  Guests came over to our table and engaged us in conversation.  The warmth of being together in this remote dining room seemed like something in a story of people we think we could never be.   Most in that room would break away into the outer world in the morning.  Some spoke about coming back someday. 

We were told that the resort was built in the twenties.  Guests return and complain if anything is changed.  We wanted to be those that come back.  Was there a cabin available for us?  Yes. 

“Finish your coffee and roll and my husband will go up and build a fire in the stove and light the water heater.  You will have hot water for a shower in an hour.”

That would be just great.

“You say that you like the cinnamon roll?  Come down to the store in the morning and we will have some nice warm ones for your breakfast.” 

The store is open on Mondays, but the restaurant is closed that day. 

In a short while we did arrive at the cabin and it was toasty warm and the water tank was nearly ready to provide hot water for showers.  After showers, we toasted nightcaps to the day and the spirits that inhabit ancient places. 

Paulina Lake Resort–A.M. Surprise

Sometime after dawn we were awakened by pounding outside.  What!  Is someone chopping wood at this hour? There was an ax with chopping block just outside the door.  I pulled the curtain aside and peered outside.  Not a soul was in view.  Dressing, and venturing out to investigate around the cabin, we discovered the real culprits were the resident chipmunks.  They climb high into the pines around the cabins and loosen the cones a little ahead of Mother Nature’s timetable.  Twenty or thirty feet drop the cones onto the roof of the cabin and onto the ground where they can extract the nuts from the cone. 

Paulina Peak

After breakfast, we drive to East Lake. 
There we encounter a fisherman feeding the little fellows dog food.

After stopping to observe an obsidian flow that had emerged from a vent in the southwestern wall of the crater about 2000 years ago, we took a dirt road ascending to the highest point on the rim of the crater—Paulina Peak 7,985 feet.  In contrast, the average height of the rim is around 3000 feet above sea level. 

Paulina peak [Photo repeated from Part 1]

The road can be seen as a light streak winding its way up the western side of Paulina, the right side in the picture.  On the eastern side you can see (extreme left) the obsidian flow as it flowed down the slope.  It is surrounded by a lighter area of ash—remnant of even an earlier vent that spewed ash out of the bowels of old Mother Earth.

The drive to the top of the peak was one of the trips in a car that I will not soon forget.  The road was graded. No railings or posts at any point along the way.  At times the wheels of the truck would spin in the loose spots and slide in the areas where I would apply the brakes.  As we would approach a curve, the amount of drop-off was not easily determined because all we could see was blue sky at the edge of the road.  As you may not know, I am bothered by exposed places—places where there is no visible barrier that would stop me from falling.  Vertigo.  Needless to say we made it to the top.  After settling down enough to eat lunch, we drove back down the road and back to Bend by late that afternoon.

Todd Lake and Mt. Bachelor

Stopping for additional groceries in Bend took only a short time.  Then out Century Drive toward the Cascades.  Twenty-three miles out of town we were into the area between the South Sister and Mt. Bachelor.  At the Todd Lake turnoff we left the paved road and turned onto an unpaved forest road that takes one to Todd Lake and beyond, through the forest, past the Three Sisters, and north to Sisters, Oregon.  About a mile beyond the Todd Lake parking lot we found a small camping area.  On the way there we noticed a small stream near the road.  Walking distance to water was fine with us.  The air was getting cooler as evening was approaching.  It was about five in the evening.  We were alone.  Alone because the summer season was over and it was too early for the winter ski season to begin.

The Coleman was soon heating water for coffee.  Hamburger was being pressed into shape for supper.  Sliced zucchini squash will taste damn good with the hamburger.  Careful, the heat from the coffee has gone into the tin of the cup—it’ll burn you! I’ll just set it on the tailgate a while to cool down a bit.  By this time jackets and sweaters felt comfortable as we served dinner.

After supper we walked across the road and into a meadow surrounded by woods.  Mt. Bachelor was just to the south of us about two miles, so it was across the meadow, towering above us, catching the last light of the day.  The peachy hues were our favorite.  The snow near the top seemed to have a glow all its own against the violet blue of the evening sky. 

The forest had gained a blackness by the time the path had gained enough altitude to see the mountains in the east over the tops of the trees.  Walking along, watching this progression, we spied a fallen tree under one of its own kind that would make a good seat.  So we sat to watch.  Surprise! The warmth of the day was captured under the spreading boughs of the evergreen  while we sat there in comfort.

Later, in the bed, we toasted the day before rolling over to dream of times that others, like us, have dreamed.  Even in places like this, we remain part of other peoples’ lives.

And back home…

Rising early wasn’t easy.  One must do what one must do—I guess.  Light the Coleman to make the coffee.  Eat breakfast.  Fill the day pack with lunch and sketching material.  On the way to Todd Lake, we fill  the canteen with good water from the little stream.   In about a half hour after leaving the camp, we arrived at the lake.  It was about ten acres in area with a meadow to the north of it.

A few little streams fed into it, came from down off the ridge that hemmed it in from the west, north, and east sides.  They weave their way down across the meadow.

We could hear the sound of the water rushing over rocks.  Crossing the meadow, we proceeded to pick our way up the ridge that separated us from seeing Broken Top and the Three Sisters.

By noon we had reached the top of the ridge.  There through the trees were the mountains, just a few miles north of us.  Again, alone, we were in an area where nymphs and fairies must surely live.  They must be good because they allow us the use of their place for a few hours.  We eat our sandwiches and grapes while sitting on a fallen forest giant.

Afterwards, we stroll along through the forest and among rock out-croppings scattered through grassy areas warmed by the afternoon sun. Soon we are sketching.

The drawing of something brings you within contact range of nature’s design.  During this period, we are forced to seek our own way.  There is no noting of passage.  You simply do go to your point for that something that gives out the right detail for working a drawing.

Time passed and the shadows began their march once more across the sunny area we had found.  Tomorrow, next year, on some sunny afternoon far from here, I will think of you, little pebbles and blades of grass.  Have I drawn a good likeness of you?  Just our kind of note of having been here.


Looking at the mountains I can see that the shadows are also marching across the crater up on Broken Top.  Then I turn to the northwest and see the shadows giving definition to the slopes of the Sisters.  The four o’clock hour is fast approaching as we turn to descend from our forest haven

Arriving back in camp at about five , we set about preparing a stew for supper.  Hamburger, corn, sliced fresh tomatoes from our garden, and onion, are the ingredients of the stew.  A dash of salt and pepper will you please!  Hot coffee while you wait is just enough to give comfort to tired feet.  Again, after supper, we take our meadow stroll in the twilight of evening.  We did this the evening before.  That was when we had another day to do it again.  This is the last night until next time.  When would the next time take place?

It seems funny at this distance, but when we are visiting a place it doesn’t take very long until it belongs to us.  And again it was happening; this moonlite meadow was ours.  Look, there is the moon just above the trees and the snow remoteness of Mt. Batchelor pushing the stars for its place in the heavens.  At our feet there is a dry plant that has formed a radial design on the ground of the meadow.  Snowflake or compass—it suggests what you will.  Perhaps that can be said of our impressions of the trip about to end.  We take ourselves wherever we go. We make of our lives a much or as little, wherever we are at any time, place, or situation, as it presents itself to us. How else can some people confined to a cell survive while others perish?

The amazing thing about visiting a place with such a rich geological past is the evidence of so much having taken place before we arrived.  We were standing on history, walking next to it.  Looking and seeing traces of it put there by people like us.  And so much of it not to be here for very much longer.

We saw a lot of big things.  Looking closer at those big things we soon discover that they are all made up of a whole bunch of little things, small, itsee-bitsee, tiny things.

Sincerely, Victor Also contributing:  Ruth (companion), Patches, and Dame (the dogs).

Postscript

We couldn’t leave you with just thirteen pictures.  Buildings never have thirteen floors.  As we were leaving Todd Lake that last evening, we caught this view looking south.

Been Here? Done That? Tell Me About It!