Friday, July 10, 2015

Into the Wild Blue Yonder III ~ May 31st - June 2nd

May 31st ~ After breakfast we packed up and headed north on Hwy 97 out of Klammath and west on Hwy 62 to Crater Lake and the Rim Overlook. First thing we spot is this structure, a sheltered viewpoint situated on the caldera rim about 900' above the lake. It's called the Sinnott Memorial Observation station.

We really wanted to check it out but the path was still blocked by snow. It was built in 1930, the first structure built in Crater Lake National Park using rough stone masonry construction. It's named for Nicholas J. Sinnott who represented eastern Oregon in the House of Representatives from 1913-1928. As chairman of the House Public Lands Committee he actively supported the park. We got a nice long walk in along the rim. Part of the rim road was still closed due to snow but we did get a bit of exploring in on the west side of the lake. 

Sinnott Observation Overlook

Bluer than Blue 

Crater Lake partially fills a type of volcanic depression called a caldera that was formed by the collapse of a 3,700 m (12,000 ft) volcano known as Mount Mazama during an enormous eruption approximately 7,700 years ago.

Water from melting snow, rain and springs began to accumulate in the massive caldera about 5,000 years ago. Inflow, seepage and evaporation of this closed drainage system now vary less than 3 ft (1 m) per year. In one spot the lake is 1,943 ft (592 m) deep and the average depth is 1,148 ft (350 m). It’s also one of the bluest lakes in the world. Pure water has an intrinsic blue color because it absorbs most of the red wavelengths of light.

We toyed with the idea of staying at the venerable Crater Lake Lodge, but it was too pretentious and overpriced. Decided instead to stay in a cabin at Mazama Village just down the road near the campground. There is a small store and a restaurant within walking distance. Evening included a nice supper, some reading and early to bed. 

June 1st ~ Headed for Bend the back way to pick up Highway 97: south on Hwy 62 and northeast on Hwy 138: Wide open high desert vistas and large ranches. We stopped at the Warm Springs Casino just north of Madras for lunch and found out the back road we wanted to take towards the Metolius River, near Sisters, was not open. Rats, it promised to be an adventure. So we back tracked to Madras on Hwy 97 and then west on Hwy 126 and headed for Sisters for the night. The Best Western Ponderosa was a great spot with log furniture and llamas grazing at the fence line. An easy walk to dinner and back. 

June 2nd ~ Surprising fact for a destination spot, nothing opens in Sisters until 11 am, we couldn't find a restaurant for the life of us. Rod finally spotted a place called Melvin's Fir Street Market and Deli. A great discovery: the owner ran the store and was chief cook and bottle washer. We had the Full Monty: bacon, eggs and smashed potatoes (named for his friend Monty who we got to meet). Also met another character who told us about some morel mushroom gathering spots at the recent burn areas. 

The Metolius River defies basic geology lessons. It literally springs out of the shadow of Black Butte Mountain, on the east flank of the Cascades. The source of the springs is evidently unknown, but it is thought that it might actually be a large drainage basin on the other side of the mountain near Black Butte Ranch. 

A short walk through the woods takes you there

The unusual fault that created Green Ridge is thought to have brought the springs to the surface here. The mountain is a volcano, and a past eruption may have blocked or buried the flowing river as it existed before. The spring flows at a consistent rate of 45,000 to 50,000 US gallons per minute.

The river walk is absolutely magical.

After a delightful morning of exploring the river we head northwest to Hillsboro, OR to spend a few days with friends Art and Deb. Never ones to take a main road we left the Interstate to the fools and explored Hwys 20, 22, 221 and 219 to get there. It's about a 3.5 hour drive from Sisters, but through some beautiful hill country, farms, ranches and small towns.