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Cascadian Flow

Northern California and Oregon
2020, July 11-18

The only real constant on this trip was a slow, insidious nosebleed; sinuses cracked from the unfamiliar hot dry air, dusty, warm, and inescapable, a taste of high desert in the middle of summer. Over in the southeast edge of the Cascades, where one mountain range peters out and bleeds into the start of the Sierras, the snow has mostly gone. Summer is in full swing.

B and I took the week off to enjoy the best of it, touching a hike or bike here and there, driving to connect the dots. Seeing all the Cascadian volcanos laid bare before us, one dropping off in our rearview to be replaced by another, each beautiful and impressive, conjures up a subtle itch to explore them all. This trip highlighted for me the geological instability of this region; some of the activity so new: most recently Lassen in 1914 and 1921, and St Helens in 1980. Even Crater Lake in its serene blue only filled up after a massive explosion some 7500-ish years ago, a long groan in human history but barely a blink in geological time.

We took this trip for a break, to refresh ourselves after the long stretch of continuous work that began before the effective start of the US COVID-19 epidemic in March. And also to fill in some of the blanks in the region. But I found that even as I was impressed by the beauty and grandeur of places, the moments I found most memorable were those shared with strangers, masked or distant. It's running into other hikers and bikers, questioning the availability of water on a hot exposed day, and joking about drinking from the Crater rim. It's gathering at the summit of McKenzie Pass -- where everyone was in high spirits -- and gossiping with locals about mountain climbers, accidents, and the military overtake of Portland. It's running into a randonneur with a very fancy bicycle outside a general store in a tiny hundred person town who casually slips that he'd been riding continuously for 30+ hours in the boiling hot day and freezing cold night as part of the 1000km Race Across Oregon (where he was in first place by more than 6 hours, we find after the fact), and staring slightly dumbstruck with popsicles in our mouths as he wishes us a good ride and remounts his bike with a pained groan to tackle the next 200 miles...


Day 0 -- July 11: Drove from Seattle to Lassen Volcanic Nat'l Park


Day 1 -- July 12: Hiked Summit North to Snag Lake to the Cinder Cone (15.5mi, ~2200ft), camped at Snag Lake

Lassen Peak from a distanceObserving Lassen Peak from a distance
Approaching the Cinder Cone; all volcanic ash, all the timeApproaching the Cinder Cone in the late afternoon; most hot and exposed hike of the trip. Everything underfoot was ash, and it was slow going.
It was weirdView from the top of the Cinder Cone
Camped by Snag LakeCamped overnight on the Western side of Snag Lake

Day 2 -- July 13: Hiked out (7.5mi, ~1000ft); shorter hikes around Bumpass Hell (3mi) and Lassen Peak (4.6mi, ~2000ft, max elevation: 10,462ft)

Mountains near Lassen PeakLovely mountains near Lassen Peak, ~8000ft
Sulfur exiting the Earth at Bumpass HellStinky sulfur exiting the Earth at Bumpass Hell
Starting up Lassen PeakThe trailhead at Lassen Peak; interpretative plaques accompanied us all the way up on this Southernest of "Cascadian" volcanoes
Peaky!Ascending Lassen Peak
Peaky!Snow at the top of Lassen Peak
Representing, circa 10,462ftThe peak! Around 10,462ft

Day 3 -- July 14: Explored some caves in Lava Beds Nat'l Monument, then drove to Crater Lake Mazama Campground

Sunlight contemplation in Lava tubesCave exploration at Lava Beds National Monument
Petroglyph Point -- Modoc archeological sitePetroglyph Point -- Modoc archeological site

Day 4 -- July 15: Biked Mazama to Crater Lake loop (46mi, 4860ft)

Start or end?At the start or end?
Crater Lake -- it's good from every angleCrater Lake -- it's good from every angle

Day 5 -- July 16: Drove to Sisters via Mt Bachelor and Bend, hiked around Smith Rock (4.3mi, 1295ft)

Last snow on Mt BachelorLast snow on Mt Bachelor
Riverfront in Bend, ORRiverfront in Bend, OR
Monkey Head at Smith RockMonkey Head at Smith Rock
Encapsulated sunlightEncapsulated

Day 6 -- July 17: Biked out and back Rainbow to McKenzie Pass Dee Wright Observatory (60.5mi, 4111ft), biked around Rainbow and Cougar Reservoir (9.2mi, 350ft, some gravel), drove to Painted Hills

Best of the best, McKenzie PassBest of the best, McKenzie Pass
Black ButteBlack Butte
Summit bike selfieSummit bike selfie; everyone there was so happy
Sisters from the NorthSisters from the North
Surreal; vestiges of forest firesSurreal; vestiges of forest fires
The only moss on the entire tripThe only moss on the entire trip
Covered Bridge over BelknapCovered Bridge over Belknap

Day 7 -- July 18: Biked along the John Day River (Service Creek to Spray) (26.0mi, 450ft), drove home to Seattle via Tri-Cities and Hanford

Comet NEOWISEComet NEOWISE -- B took some long exposures
Milky Way and impressionMilky Way and impression in BLM land near Painted Hills
Waking in Painted HillsWaking in Painted Hills
Starstruck in SprayStarstruck in Spray
Cooling down in spirit, not temperatureCooling down in spirit, not temperature
Caught this little dude on the way backCaught this little dude on the way back

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