Life at the Running Y

Life at the Running Y
Life at the Running Y

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Camping in a Caldera

Monday July 16 at East Lake in the Newberry Caldera east of Lapine, southeast of Bend, Oregon

Temperature at 9am 66 degrees F, last night low T 55 degrees F, might get to 79 today, or not.

Something about being in the mountains by a beautiful reflective lake makes time completely irrelevant.  I know that it is morning.  There are a few high puffy clouds coming in from the west that hint that there may be a shift in the weather on the way, but I have no way to predict what could happen except my own personal weather savvy from looking at the sky and feeling the air.  beach at East Lake campground

We have been here at East Lake, the smaller and quieter of two lovely lakes at Newberry Crater for a few days now.  Not sure how many, maybe three?  I vaguely remember going to the Sisters Quilt Show last Saturday, but it has already become a bit of a memory filled in and muted by hours and hours of images of reflected water and sky.  I’ll have to blog about the quilt show eventually, maybe when I get back home and get out of this lazy lake mode.

Yesterday early in the morning we kayaked east and found the hot springs that I knew were tucked in along the shoreline, small pools hand dug in the pumice sands to moderate the hottest temperatures coming from the bubbling springs.  A mayfly hatch made for interesting reflections on the perfectly still water, frustrating all the fishermen with their various catch methods.  Those big black-backed trout were very happy filling up on mayflies. Seems as though someone dumped chubs in this lake and instead of poisoning the lake with rotenone as was done on Diamond Lake, they imported some non native Canadian Black Backed trout, or maybe they are European.  Supposedly they are strong predators of chubs and the native trout can recuperate.  Reminds me a bit of rabbits in Australia.beach camping at East Lake

I was glad that those bugs weren’t very interested in landing on me and didn’t seem to bite.  We heard that they only hatched yesterday, but a few non biting mayflies are nothing compared to mosquitoes and gnats, neither of which seem to have found this perfect little lake in the mountains.there is our site from the water

There are incredible geologic stories of the Newberry Caldera, recent volcanism, obsidian flows, there is even a nice visitor center not far from the entrance to the national whatever area that this is.  I don’t know.  I don’t have internet  or even a cell signal to look up and research every little thing, I just have my memories and much like the weather, I can only share what is already tucked away in my mind. I am completely disconnected from the outside world.  All I have is water, pumice sand beaches, blue blue skies, clean clear water, and yes, an absolutely to die for, perfect campsite right on the beach. 

Roger and Nancy provided a couple of nights of easy camping in their driveway in Lapine with hookups and a great dinner of bbq chicken on one night and we all shared a yummy treat dinner at McMennimen’s in Bend the night of the quilt show.  On Sunday we packed up the rigs and headed east just an hour or so to Paulina and East Lake in the Newberry Crater area.  We thought that by Sunday afternoon the campgrounds should have quieted enough that we could get a campsite without much trouble.East Lake reflections

Surprise!  East Lake is a very popular little fishing lake for the locals, and we only managed to snag a good beach front site by walking the park, checking the exit dates on all the tags, and finally asking one camper when he planned to leave.  He was very accommodating, and said if we paid now, we could take possession of his site when he pulled out in a couple of hours.  I guess that is the way it is done here.  We got here about two hours before the 2PM exit time, and it wasn’t a bit too early since other folks were checking tags after us and any later than we were wouldn’t have been so lucky.

Even on a Sunday night, all the front row water sites were taken, but by Monday the park did have a very few unoccupied sites toward the back row of the park.  We are camped  at East Lake Campground, the best one in our opinion because of its easy access to the water, although there are bigger campgrounds in the area, and this one only has 24 sites.  There is a boat launch and a large parking area for boat trailers.the fish are jumping at East Lake

Seems as though fishing is the most popular pastime here, and the first night we saw a young family pull in with a nice big string of trout for dinner.  After the mayfly hatch, however, the catch went way down.  The lake has a 10 mph limit so that makes it wonderful for kayakers like us.  I haven’t yet learned how to paddle at 10 mph.

Nancy and Sue making s'mores with less (no crackers) I really have lost track of time, a nice thing.  We have been out in the boats paddling in several directions, found little bays and inlets, and of course, the hot springs.  We have cooked suppers to share at the picnic table, and in Roger’s rig when the evening winds were a bit too much.  We have had campfires with the great juniper wood Mo loaded up from home, and learned to make S’mor’s with Less, a new favorite of mine.  S’mores are just too dry for me, but if you slip a perfect little square of chocolate inside a perfectly done marshmallow, the chocolate melts and ohmy!!  Even Roger who refuses to eat marshmallows decided it looked too good to pass up and he loved the one that he tried.

campfire time at East LakeLast night brought a bit of a downer for us, though, when we decided to go for a walk and Nancy discovered they had locked themselves out of their rig.  No spare key anywhere.  She also thought their car was locked, and of course we don’t have a car with us either.  There is no cell phone service here, so we walked down to the camp host who offered a hangar and if needed a ride over to Paulina Lake and his boss who had a land line.  Nancy’s wallet, everything, was in the rig, so she didn’t even have phone numbers of Good Sam, or any information to try to call.  It was already getting dark and Mo and I were thinking we might need to break out the sofa bed (not ever used) and picturing a night in our rig with 4 adults, 2 dogs, and an elderly cat was interesting.

Lo and behold, when Roger checked their Honda, it wasn’t locked!  Still no wallet or rig keys, but at least one little Honda key in the glove box, something called a “valet key” that started the car.  They decided the best option would be to drive back home (just an hour from here) where they could make the needed phone calls, have access to their information, and sleep in their own bed.  We are hoping they will show up here sometime this morning with someone to open up the rig and all will be well. 

Tuesday July 17 Sherry, this one is for you!

East Lake Hot Spring is a magical little spring that emerges right along the shoreline of the caldera lake bubbling up through the pumice sands.  People have scooped out the sand into a couple of small pools, and edged them with rocks and logs to keep the hot water contained.  The pumice is lightweight and a bit crunchy, but you can scoop it out deeper if you want a deeper pool, and the temperature can be controlled by sweeping more cool water from the lake into your little handmade pool of choice.steamy springs in the morning on East Lake

The momentary drama of last evening was solved easily when Roger and Nancy spent the night at home, calling first thing in the morning to the dealer where they bought their rig.  It was a 2012 model, without electronic keys, so they got a replacement key for just $7.00, and before noon they were back here in the mountains with us, rig opened up, and everything just fine. 

Nancy and I decided to kayak over to the springs while Mo and Roger took the spring hike trail up over the hill.  They found us in the pools, from a high spot overlooking the spring, but certainly not any kind of path I would want to climb down to get there.  Kayaks are the only way to go.  Mo and I had boated over there earlier in the morning for a soak and there already were some kayakers there enjoying the lovely little spring, but they called out saying they would be leaving within ten minutes or so, and I waited my turn.  I had the springs to myself for a long time while Mo paddled east to the East Lake Resort in the distance.

East Lake shoreline hot springsSo my afternoon soak with Nancy was the second of the day for me.  What an amazing treat!  After paddling back to the campground, we all settled in on the beach with the dogs and balls, and Nancy and I even braved the chilly waters for some swimming.  A bit later I thought it might be interesting to see how Jeremy was in the kayak and that turned out great.  He did really well, but finally decided that he wanted to leap back to shore.  It is said that Turkish Angora kitties love to swim and Jeremy may have not loved it, but he definitely was a great swimmer.  He kept his head above water and just swam into shore.  He may have been a bit indignant, and he was definitely a bag of bones with all that wet fur, but he didn’t seem to mind that much.  I took him in a couple more times and he proved his swimming abilities quite well.Jeremy goes kayaking while the doge play

We were treated to a nice clean fluffy cat when he finished drying himself off.  The sun was brilliant and the pumice sands were warm and he liked being there, at least I think he liked it.  He at least didn’t run away.kitty swim

We all settled in on the beach and I kept looking at the dark cliffs on the opposite shore of the lake.  The wind wasn’t too strong and I decided to jump in the boat one more time for an pre-supper paddle. It was only about a mile and a half across the lake, but I paddled hard for a good 45 minutes before I finally approached the cliffs.  No matter how much I paddled, they always seemed as though they were close, but I kept paddling and they didn’t seem to get any closer.  In the shadow of the cliffs, the water was calm, and I could hear it lapping inside the eroded rhyolite volcanic rock caves.  The water was very deep and clear and the cliffs had much more complexity that it appeared from a distance.  In fact, they were almost scary. 

There was a deep spiritual silence there, and the closer I got to the rock, the more I felt as though I needed to ask permission to be there.  I looked up and said a little prayer before I paddled close and touched those dark rocks.  Yeah, it was spooky, for no reason I can name.  A powerful spot.  I turned away after a time and paddled straight back across the lake without much trouble.  I had purposely left the camera behind so I wouldn’t have to worry about it, and as I was silently cruising around those rocks I thought it was properly fitting that I didn’t photograph the moment.rougher than it looks!

The next morning Mo and I woke to glassy waters and decided that it would be fun to cross the lake once again, returning by way of the springs.  Within minutes of launching, a big lake wind came up making for a very rough crossing. This time I did have the camera, but the I took very few photos, since I was paddling hard against the wind and current. We reached the cliffs, which seemed less spooky and actually more dangerous with the rough water.  I could see how a storm could bash you right up against those dark rocks.  We didn’t linger, and decided that it would be safer and easier to skirt the shoreline along the northeast side of the lake along the Cinder Hill campground and around past the East Lake Resort to the hot springs.

By the time we reached the springs, we had been on the lake longer than planned so a dip wasn’t in the cards, but it was good to be there at least one more time.  Roger and Nancy had already left early that morning and we needed to be in Lapine by mid afternoon.  We packed up in a nice breeze but I was still sorry to leave that beautiful, warm and sunny beach. East Lake reflections

On the way out I thought it would be good to stop at the visitor center, but the parking was extremely limited, with only 15 minutes on the south side of the road and no parking signs everywhere else.  I figured it wasn’t worth it, but hopefully next time I go to East Lake I can stop in to read about the monument and the geology.  The Newberry area is “hot”, and there is some controversy brewing about companies planning to inject water under high pressure deep into the fissures in the lava to generate steam power.  Ahh, let’s mess with nature just a little bit more.  But since I am still writing this without the benefit of the internet, you will just have to search it out yourself!