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Monday, December 26, 2016

••◊ Sunriver Oregon travel photography blog: Day 6

On Day 6 we decided to visit Mt. Bachelor and drive around to the neighboring lakes.  No, the picture above isn't of Mt. Bachelor.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the Mt. Bachelor parking lot we found that the mountain was shrouded in fog all the way down to the chair lift and the mountain was shut down, which meant no chair lifts to the top.  So this translated into no photos of Mt. Bachelor, which turned out to be OK since there are about a dozen or more significant lakes surrounding Mt. Bachelor all with their own characteristics.  Weather was highly variable this day between sunny and drizzle, as you would expect in the fall. 

The picture above was captured from a hiking trail just north of Mt. Bachelor along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway at Fall Creek Trail.  The mountain in the background is called Broken Top.  Its sits just southeast of the Three Sisters range.  Glaciers have eroded this 100,000 year old volcano, thus the name Broken Top.  On a more adventurous day I would have liked to hike to the top, but we weren't adequately equipped or motivated for this long of a hike.  Today was more about hitting the tourist highlights.

What I did see from the parking lot was a woman in shorts and a hiking shirt heading up the trail, while we were bundled up in the 40-something-degree weather.  It make me feel like I've either lost touch with my Pacific Northwest roots, or I'm not crazy enough for these hardcore nature conquistadors.  

Our first stop was at Todd Lake, however the Lake was completely in cloud shadow by the time we arrived.  So our first photographic lake stop was at Devils Lake.  What you noticed here is crystal clear turquoise water.  It was more like something you would see from a tropical tourist destination than a Pacific Northwest lake.  Kayakers were out enjoying the day. 

We stopped at Elk Lake, however by this time bad weather was rolling in and we decided to just stop and eat lunch in the car, hoping that the weather would roll through.  Lava Lake didn't offer anything photographically, so we turned back from that one as well.  Heading further south on Highway 46 we came upon Cultus Lake.  It was surrounded by golden yellow trees, which I believe was more indicative of the time of year.  The wind had blown the rain clouds through, leaving a nice sunny fall afternoon feels to the place.  Just look at the photo below and tell me you don't hear the sound of leaves rustling in the wind with the lake gently lapping the shore.

The highly variable weather was back by the time we make it to Crane Prairie Reservoir with quickly approaching drizzle.  The general store was shut down, probably for the season, leaving the place with a more abandoned feel.  I think the photo of the boat launch below captures how the area felt.  When the resort is operating the reservoir is filled with fishing and boating tourists.  What I noticed about this area is a difference in the trees.  Certain trees have a vibrant red bark (not shown). 

We were tired of all the car travel and started heading back on South Century Drive when we spotted a sign for Pringle Falls.  Thinking there might be something to see we headed in that direction.  As the forest ranger explained to us, Pringle Falls is more of a community than a thing.  The picture below was about as much waterfall as Pringle Falls offers.  The next day we were heading back to civilization and this was a nice, calm fall afternoon way to end our visit of central Oregon.  Next week...back to civilization (and the burden of traffic).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

••◊ Sunriver Oregon travel photography blog: Day 5

Day 5 of our Sunriver, Oregon trip felt much more photographically satisfying than the previous day at Crater Lake.  For one, I was very aware of my camera's battery charge and wasn't going to let it die again!  Yes, I know I need to buy a spare battery, but I still stubbornly haven't.

Our first adventure this day was to the nearby Lava River Cave.  It's part of the Newberry Volcanic Monument and is run as a tourist attraction by the U.S. Forest Service.  The cave formed from a lava river nearly 80,000 years ago, with the roof formed by the exposed lava that cooled and left a tube.  The floor is made up of sand that came from the eruption of Mount Mazama (see previous entry) and travelled into the cave from drips of water from the ceiling.  At certain parts of the cave you can even see stalagmites and stalactites.

The tourist part of the cave is about a mile long.  You walk down the steps shown in the first photo below and keep walking on a metal scaffold the first few hundred feet - then you actually end up on the cave floor once you've passed the initial rock piles.  The reason they don't let you go past a mile is because bats live in the cave and they don't want humans to harm the bats with disease or noise.  At certain points you also have to crouch down to get through the cave, so it's not for the casual walker.

One important point I need to advise is that it's*cold* in the cave.  Most times of year it's around 42 degrees.  Be prepared with layers.  I got to the end of the cave and suddenly realized...oh crap...I gotta pee!  It's so cold that your body has the same reaction it does to all cold...increase blood plasma density.  So my trip out of the cave was A LOT faster than the trip in!  There were a few times when I had the thought, it's a dark cave - turn off your flashlight - who's going to know?  But I was a good hiker and made is back to the restrooms (barely) - which is a truly challenging task with so...many...stairs.  So heed this advice, "go" before you go in. 

Our next stop was the much, much warmer Fort Rock in central Oregon.  The "fort" was formed 10,000-12,000 years ago as a volcanic eruption in the middle of a 900 square mile ice age lake.  The resulting magma shot up and formed a cone around the eruption.  Since that time, one side of the cone has eroded away from primarily southwest winds, leaving a semi-circle.  Fort Rock is one of 40 such formations in the area, but it's the most well known.  Today you can hike (very short) into the fort or up onto a cliff to get a good view.

Archaeologists have found sandals buried by dust from the eruption of Mount Mazama at nearby caves overlooking the (former) lake dating back nearly 10,000 years ago.  This was some of the first evidence of humans in Central Oregon, and at the time the first evidence of humans in north America.  In the 1960's Reuben and Norma Long donated the area around Fort Rock to Oregon and it eventually became a Oregon State Park.  Also note that Cycle Oregon contributed funding to make that happen. 

Across the street from Fort Rock there's a museum of preserved buildings, which offer great photographic opportunities.  Unfortunately the museum was closed the day we visited, but I was still able to grab pictures from outside their fence.  I mostly stuck to film photography for this part of the trip since it seemed like a good way to add an "older" aesthetic to an old place, and for the most part I'm pretty happy with the results.

On our way home we made a detour to Paulina Peak, which is a nearly 8,000ft peak along the Crater on the Newberry Volcano.  The peak was named after Chief Paulina, a  Paiute native American leader best known for guerilla attacks on encroaching settlers.  The view of Newberry Crater is north of the peak.  From there you can see Paulina Lake on the left and East Lake (obviously) on the right.  I like the way TripAdvisor.com labelled the last few miles of travel up the gravel road to the peak...“Paulina Peak Overlook view is worth the white-knuckle drive.”  My poor height fearing mom was driving (slowly) as typical Pacific Northwestern Subaru Outback adventurer-ers were zooming past us up the hill.  Of course I was thinking, "this would made an awesome place for a rally car race!"  Somehow I didn't inherit my mom's sensibilities for risk.

When we made is home we settled down to a nice warm bowl of hearty bean soup.  My mom needed to rest after that drive.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

••◊ Sunriver Oregon travel photography blog: Day 4

Day 4 of our travels was at Crater Lake, in Southern Oregon.  It's a popular tourist attraction and a national park.  From Wikipedia...

"The lake partly fills a nearly 2,148-foot (655 m)-deep caldera that was formed around 7,700 (± 150) years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. There are no rivers flowing into or out of the lake; the evaporation is compensated for by rain and snowfall at a rate such that the total amount of water is replaced every 250 years. With a depth of 1,949 feet (594 m), the lake is the deepest in the United States. In the world, it ranks tenth for maximum depth, and third for mean (average) depth."

The gist is..., it's an impressively large lake in a volcano.  Below are some panoramas I took at the stops around Rim Drive.  The island just off shore is called Wizard Island. None of my views of it were as good as some of the better panorama out there on the web.  See the Wikipedia article for better photos. I seem to have missed the ideal spot.

Our trip wouldn't have been complete without at least one stop at a Pacific Crest Trail sign in the park.  We actually picked up two this day, including the Rim Trail sign.  We walked along the trail for a bit, but quickly realized it was a long way to any view that harbors the spirit and allure of the PCT, so it was only a quick diversion.  The Rim Trail is lined with twisted Whitebark Pine trees that look like something out of a horror or sci-fi film.  In actuality, they are quite healthy and a resistant to the most severe weather conditions at higher altitudes.  Extreme trees for extreme weather.

One photo that I feel good about getting is the "phantom ship."  In this case the 35mm film camera gave a much better photo than the crop sensor digital camera.  The sign at the outlook says..."At first glance, the dark, jagged island just offshore calls to mind the image of ghostly ship with tall masts and drooping sails.  Phantom Ship is actually a resistant remnant of an ancient volcanic cone that was engulfed in the growing Mazama volcano.  This vent shared the underground chamber that fed Mount Mazama and was part of Mazama's early mountain building phase.  These rocky spires remained after Mazama's massive eruption and collapse, displaying the oldest rock in the Crater Lake basin at over 400,000 years old."

We found an ideal spot on the east side of the crater rim and waited for sunset while eating dinner.  I took pictures not knowing what the ideal sunset time or look was going to be. Then my Fuji camera battery ran out!  I didn't have another one to keep going with sunset panoramas.  Sure enough, about five minutes after we drove away from the outlook the sky went completely nuclear with bright fluorescent pinks and oranges - much, much more so than you see in the picture below!  Augh!  Next time I do this I'll know to bring along a car charger for my camera battery, or quit being cheap and get an extra battery.