Broken Snow Sparks

Broken Top Mountain blanketed in a fresh blanket of snow, only the second or third covering this year, reflected in the mix of ice and water of Sparks Lake.

For you mountain fans, to the left of this view is South Sister, to the right is Mount Bachelor.

Broken Snow Sparks

After a long weekend in Bend, Oregon, where Goddess and I attended a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course called Wilderness First Aid (WFA), we took the long way home.  Bend is only about 3.5 hours from our house, but it took us about 8 hours.  The snow here at the summit of Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway that had fallen over the weekend had turned to ice, so the going was slow for a few miles.  But more than anything, we took many a side trip for different views and experiences.  Our only disappointment of the whole drive was that the north entrance to Crater Lake was closed due to the snow, so we didn’t get to see the lake on this trip.  Sure we’ve seen it many times, but have yet to see it from the north side when the rim and surrounding mountains are covered in snow.

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I mentioned the WFA course.  It’s a course I cannot recommend enough to everyone.  The focus is on first aid issues in the wilderness, but it’s info that is equally useful in an urban setting.  You might be able to find one near you either through your parks & recreation agency or through REI.

Off Kilter

It’s blooming season, so everything is in the air.  Some things get to one that do not bother another.  Some things really get someone, other things not so much.

This week, it has mostly been just enough of an effect that I’ve been feeling off kilter.

Just like this image.

Off Kilter

Lake of the Woods, Klamath County, Oregon.

McLoughlin Driftwood

Although it’s not quite autumn, we’re getting hints of it here in southern Oregon.

The last few months have been quite crazy for both Goddess and I.  I trained for and rode the annual Seattle to Portland bike ride (200 miles/322km), then jumped right into Bike School.  As soon as I was done with Bike School, Goddess started her schooling.

I’ll leave it up to her to announce what that may be, should she choose.

Knowing that I had but a few weeks before I started the next phase of Bike School, we decided to head to one of the high mountain lakes for a bit of a breather.

She took her books to study, I took my camera.

McLoughlin Driftwood
McLoughlin Driftwood

Here we are at Fourmile Lake, one of the highest lakes in Oregon, sitting at 5,800′.  Up there, it’s autumn.  Unfortunately, it’s all evergreen trees.  I’m hoping for some color.

But after a long, hot summer, the lake water, all from snow melt, is still darn cold.  Just as it should be.

It was a nice break before the weekend, where I spent a morning tackling Mount Ashland, our local mountain, on my bicycle.

Nothing significant, but it can be when the race starts in town (1,800′) and it’s every racer for themselves to the top (6,500′).  For the quick ones, it’s between 1.5 and 2 hours.  For the rest of us, it’s closer to 3 hours.

Most of it suffering.

For all of us.

But when there’s scenery like this around, none of it should be considered suffering.

Wizard Reflection

A wider view than last, capturing the gorgeous blue water, shallow along the shore of Wizard Island.

Wizard Reflections

And while that water looks tropical, I seriously doubt that it is, considering the lake is fed only by snowmelt every spring.

But you can swim in that hole, like these folks did.

Or you can swim across the entire lake.  Twice.  Like these folks did.

Mount Scott Reflections

If last night’s view of the Northern California coast doesn’t work for us, this is always 90 minutes away.

Mount Scott Reflections

Goddess repeated several times “How is this even real?”.  She was awestruck by not only the scenery, but the natural colors, especially in the rocks.

And the water.  Oft cited as the most pure water in North America, the deep blues here are impressive.  But the turquoise blues in the shallows around Wizard Island (foreground) are astounding.  Perhaps a pic will follow…

Lava Fields

One thing that I think is impressing Goddess the most about living out here is how varied the landscape can be in just a short amount of time.

While driving on McKenzie Highway, just a few minutes out of dense forest, we ran across this view of Oregon’s Mount Washington, looking across an ancient lava field, complete with what is now a completely dead forest.  Another 20 minutes of driving and we were deep in lush, dense forest again, soon reaching moss and fern surrounded waterfalls.

Lava Fields

Photo details for those interested:  B+W 10-stop Neutral Density filter (ND110),  ISO 50, 30 seconds at f22 (I really need to clean my sensor).

Koosah Falls Detail

Well that was a string of desert photos.  I’m not done yet, but it’s time for a break.

Perhaps it should be considered a teaser from this weekend’s trip.

A waterfall on the lee-side of the Cascades.

Koosha Falls Detail

Koosha Falls is one of three major falls on the McKenzie river in Linn County, Oregon.  It is a beautiful place and I hope to get back there in better conditions.

It was too damn sunny!

So if the falls weren’t blown out, then the trees would be.

Of course, I could have taken the easy route and spit out one of those ghastly HDR images.

But that’s not me.

So instead it was time to focus on the details.  Which I love.

My favorite part of this image is that fine narrow fall to the left, landing on the rock below, splitting and continuing its path into the river.

Fine as wine.

Of course, there are so many details in the moss and rocks that are just as intriguing.

Anyway, this fall typically runs 64 feet (19.5 meters).  During high flow in spring, perhaps as high as 70 feet (21.3 meters).  As we were looking at it, I wondered out loud to Goddess – “I wonder if anyone has run it”.  But immediately dismissed that idea, since the best line, just outside image frame right, would be the left side of the falls (as the kayaker approaches).  However, that side of the fall lands very hard on a very large boulder, sending spray everywhere.

I quickly dismissed the idea.

Boy, was I wrong – click here to read (and see) an attempt.

My hat off to those that tackle big water.