Late Summer Adventures, Part 2 – Crater Lake and the Obsidian Trail (18-39)

Crater Lake 9/12/2018

We left Boardman to drive to Sisters, Oregon for another few days of hiking. The webcams at Crater Lake National Park showed the smoke haze had mostly lifted, so we added a side trip to see Crater Lake.

We had been to Crater Lake about 20 years ago, but our visit that summer was early in the season and there was too much snow to do much more than admire the view from the one small area that was accessible. It has been a goal to return and hike down to the lake, take the boat to Wizard Island, and hike to the many viewpoints around the lake. We were foiled again this year by the extremely bad air quality that was present during the time we had planned, but at least we got to see the views on a nearly clear day and admire the absolutely blue water.

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Discovery Point – first view of the lake and a sign showing what Mt Mazama looked like before the eruption and collapse that created Crater Lake.

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Close view of Llao Rock; Mt Thielson in the distance.

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Wizard Island

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South view to Garfield Peak

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Wizard Island and Mt Scott beyond

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Crater at the top of Wizard Island

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The tropical blue water in the shallows around Wizard Island

Obsidian Trail 9/13/2018

We have stayed in Sisters, Oregon several times, but have yet to explore all of the trails in the area. This was our first time to hike in the Obsidian Area of the Three Sisters Wilderness (#50) (12 miles, 2000 feet).

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The first few miles are through forest, including part of the 2017 Milli Fire burn zone.

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Obsidian trail

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Bear Grass and huckleberry foliage

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Sims Butte through the Milli burn zone

At about 3.5 miles, the trail ascends over and through a lava flow, with views to the Obsidian Cliff and to North and Middle Sisters – though today the Sisters were hiding in clouds.

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Trail up the lava flow

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Obsidian Cliff with burned forest above

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Trail through the flow

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White Branch Creek on the other side

The trail continues up through forest, meadows and past interesting rock formations.

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Middle Sister in the clouds

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Late summer pasque flower meadow with Obsidian Cliffs beyond

Next we reached Obsidian Falls.

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Beyond the falls is a high basin with a spring and a pond between a craggy cliff and an Obsidian flow.

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A bubbling spring at the base of the cliff

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Another spring

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A pond

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Dan photographing the Obsidian flow

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Obsidian flow

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Closer view of the obsidian

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obsidian

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conchoidal fracture

Over the dividing ridge is another pond.

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We continued around the loop to cloud obscured views of North and Middle Sister, a good view of the Little Brother, and a view down to Glacier Creek.

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The Little Brother

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Glacier Creek, cloud obscured Sisters

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The Little Brother

The trail descends to Sunshine Meadow along White Branch Creek.

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Mt Washington and the Belknap Craters from the trail

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Huckleberry lined path to Sunshine Meadow

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The last magenta paintbrush in Sunshine Meadow

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and an obscured view of the Sisters

We continued down the Glacial Way, back over the lava flow

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Lava flow ahead

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Clearest view of the day of Middle and North Sisters

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Fall colors

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Collier Cone – a future destination.

and back through the burn zone to the trailhead,

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which, after twelve miles for the day, I was very glad to see.

Sparse but welcome wildflowers today:

 

Dee Wright Observatory

We had to drive over Makenzie Pass to return to the town of Sisters at the end of the day, so we stopped for a quick overview:

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Dee Wright Observatory

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Belknap Craters and Mt Washington to the north.

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Cloud covered North and Middle Sisters to the south.

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