Sunday, September 26, 2010 Cloudy in the morning, partial clearing in the afternoon, 72 degrees
Newberry National Volcanic Monument: This monument stretches along US 97 roughly from Bend to La Pine, OR. Sections of the park must be accessed from three different entry points.
Lava Butte: The Visitor Center is located in this area. Displays and films include information mainly on geology and volcanology. Different types of volcanoes are discussed, types of and common indicators of eruptions, types of lava (pahoehoe [pa-hoy-hoy] which is rock-like and rough) and a'a([ah-ah] which is rope-like and smooth), cinders, and also the Pacific Ring of Fire. Outside we hiked the Lava Flow Trail which took us through an a'a lava field. It looks like a huge pile of rocks spread over several square miles around the foot of the Lava Butte volcano. As we continued along, we saw gutters and tubes through which the lava flowed. Later we drove to the top of the butte (beaut) where we could see Mt. Jefferson, the Three Sisters, Bachelor, and Broken Top Mountains among others to our west and numerous buttes in every direction. Walking the crater trail, we were able to look down into the caldera and out over the entire lava field. Informative panels along the way describe features of the lava field and also identified plants and animals that live there.
Lava Cast Forest: When lava flowed down the mountainside, it encased standing and fallen trees. Eventually the trees burned out, and an imprint of its bark remained in the solidified lava. We hiked the 1 mile trail where we walked by many casts. Some casts surrounded holes in the ground where the trees had been standing. Others laid prone on the ground, looking like giant tubes. While the casts are located in a large a'a lava field, evergreen trees are beginning to take root and grow where the lava is breaking down into fertile soil.
Paulina and East Lakes Area: Several different features are located in this section of the national monument.
Paulina Peak: First we drove to the summit of Paulina Peak. The road is very narrow, very twisty, and rough like a washboard. The tires vibrated so badly that the rear end of the car moved sideways toward the edge of the mountainside. I was terrified; however, the 360 degree views from the top were amazing. We could see mountains in every direction and, off to the northeast, we could see the high prairie where we drove from yesterday. Only a slight haze kept the view from being pristine.
Obsidian Trail: A condensed definition of obsidian: a naturally occurring volcanic glass, formed as an extrusive igneous rock, when lava cools rapidly without crystal growth; with a high content of silica, sunlight reflects from its surface as if it were smooth, black glass, unlike the previous lava field. Pumice, light in weight and color and rough in contrast to the obsidian, is also located in this lava field. Another example of diversity in nature.
Paulina and East Lakes: These lakes lay in the sunken Newberry caldera. It is believed that they used to be one lake, but a subsequent lava flow separated them. Since it was getting late, we drove to their shores, and then we went in search of the Hot Springs. As is happening more frequently, we found that area closed. Since expected snowfall is still a month away, we are beginning to think the early closing of park facilities is more cost-driven than weather-driven.
Paulina Falls: A short hike leads to the falls overlook which is so close that it is hard to see the double waterfall. We decided to walk to the bottom so we could get a better perspective. Unfortunately, on the way there was a third fall---mine. Stepping on a rock buried in the trail, with a twist and a pop of my ankle, I was flat on my face. So far it is only swollen. I'm am RICE-ing it. Our plans will really be affected if it becomes painful and/or needs medical attention. Bummer.
OREGON TRIVIA: Oregon State Highways are largely unmarked. Catch a sign when you turn on to the road, or else you may never know where you are. Also, you are not allowed to pump your own gasoline in Oregon. When it is pumped, the dollar amount is never taken to the next logical number of cents. For example it is left at 19 or 44 cents. Annoying. Whether it is to avoid spills or overflows, we have no clue.
TODAY'S ROUTE: US 97S from Bend to La Pine, OR, with three entries in to Newberry National Volcanic Monument