Belknap Lava Flows, OR

Lava Fields

The highway is open! We had a nice two-day stay at the cabins, and are now packed and ready to go. The bus batteries are recharged and the water tank is full. Our batteries are recharged too. 🙂

I’m pretty sure we were the first ones to drive down the highway once it opened, but it didn’t take long before we started seeing cars and people. It’s kind of amazing how outdoorsy Bend people are, even in the rain.

We made it to the trailhead by 10 am. It’s still rainy, but the ground is made up of this porous volcanic red sand, so there is little chance the bus will get stuck in the mud. We settled in, packed up a lunch, and then headed out for our day hike through the lava field.

The lava field looks like an alien landscape – miles and miles of jagged, ankle-busting lava rock punctuated by stretches of white snow for as far as the eye can see. It is treeless except for one or two tenacious pines trying desperately to stay alive. In the rain and fog, it is eerie and mysterious, truly like stepping out of a rocket ship onto an alien planet.

The weather was much harsher than we expected. Rain-soaked all the way through our clothes to the skin, even though we had shells and waterproof pants on. My pockets had puddles of water pooling up in the bottoms, yuck!

The higher we climbed toward the rock cave the more inclement it became. The wind was almost enough to knock us off our feet. Raindrops turned into tiny needles pelting us in the face. There was no other option but to press on. We couldn’t turn back before reaching the cave. That was our goal.

We had planned to shelter in the cave, and have a rest, maybe a bit of lunch, but the cave did not offer shelter at all. The opening was west facing and the wind and rain was coming in from the west. We nestled down in between some rocks to get out of the wind, but there was just no escaping it. Forget rest, we needed to head back.

The snowy patches were too steep to kick steps down. Well, we were already soaked to the bone, so we just sat down and slid down on our butts. That was ridiculously fun. I wish I had some video of that.

Even though we got drenched and very cold, it’s always nice when you know you can come back to a warm place and get dry. Brad made a fire in the wood burner and we hung our wet clothes all around to dry by the fire. We cooked some hot food. It took about an hour for the pins and needles to leave my hands, and Brad looked feverish for a while, but we did warm up eventually!

Now we are snuggled up, listening to the rain falling on the roof, wondering if it will ever stop. It seems like it never will…

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