Friday, July 3, 2009

New to blogging

So since I've finally decided to start a blog to document and share my journeys in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, I thought...what better way to begin than with my recent trip to NEWberry Volcanic National Monument with Dave NEWborn?

We left semi-early from Corvallis and headed east across the Cascades. The view was beautiful as expected with fields of dried, yellow grass complemented by blue mountains capped with last winter's snow.

After arriving at the park 3.5 hours later, we set up for the night and immediately got the kayaks in the water at Paulina Lake, one of the two lakes that make up the caldera of Newberry. The water was absolutely gorgeous, clear and pristine! It was an amazing color turquoise with visibility that seemed to stretch on for at least 100 feet.

One bad thing about the lake was the large amount of sport fishermen that also favored this area because of stocked fish. However, despite the crowding, their motors provided some excitement for the kayaking experience by producing waves in an otherwise still body of water.

The view from the water was fantastic! Evergreen trees and peaks from previous volcanic eruptions surrounded the lake. There were even areas where the trees had been covered by lava flows serving as a constant reminder that we were floating in a volcano! The water itself also offered an amazing scene. Spotted with sun-bleached trees that had long ago taken their final plunge into the lake offered an eerie indication of the water's depth. Large blobs of algae bobbed around near the surface when we reached the shallower far side of the lake. They created a strange presence as they drifted like ghosts just below the water surface.

We took out of the water before sunset and headed back to camp to refuel with some Cuban rice and beans! As the sun began to sink behind the trees, we were faced with a battle against the pesky mosquitoes and flies that were relentless in trying join us around the campfire. The best way to fend off our new-found foes was to keep moving so we headed back to the lake to take some shots of the water which had transformed from its clear turquoise into a deep purple speckled with yellow caused by the reflecting boat lights.

We made our way to the boat ramp and were greeted with the amazing performance of acrobatic frogs leaping out of the water to catch the dancing mosquitoes skating on the water surface. All the while, more frogs provided a soundtrack to the event with their orchestra of ribbits and croaks.

After the evening show ended we headed to bed early so we could try to watch the sunrise the next morning. I remember falling asleep listening to the fishermen at a nearby campsite softly talking as they prepared their catch of the day over an open, sizzling fire.

At 4:30am we awoke and forcefully dragged ourselves out of our warm sleeping bags and made our way to Paulina Peak. As soon as we arrived, I could not get my camera out and on the tripod fast enough! It was so beautiful that I wanted to take it all in immediately. That's one of the problems I find with taking spend so much time trying to frame the picture to get the best shots that you often forget to just stop and experience the actual moment that you're trying to capture. It never fails that when I'm in a beautiful scene such as this that I have to remind myself of this bad habit.

Since we both needed to get back to Corvallis relatively early that day, we just decided to do a short hike at the big obsidian flow nearby. It is the most recent lava flow in Central Oregon--just 1300 years old! This lava flow cooled and hardened into sharp, black glass and many Native American tribes traveled long distances to this area to gather this valuable gift from inner earth to create their tools and weapons.

Tree seeds that found their way onto the lava flow from birds, squirrels, and wind had sprouted and were trying to survive in their newly established flower pots of obsidian. It was amazing to see how life can happen in even the most uninhabitable environments.

After a quick lunch in the car (because of the return of the annoying flies and mosquitoes) at East Lake we said good-bye to Newberry and headed back through rugged Central Oregon, crossed the mighty Cascades and arrived back home in pleasant Willamette Valley.