Friday, August 19, 2011

Paulina Lake Backpacking with the kiddos

Paulina Lake is one of two beautifully clear rain filled lakes in Newberry Crater, the largest peak in Oregon; by volume anyways. This low and wide volcano makes for a fascinating hiking and camping spot. The crater is located about 20 miles SE of Bend. There are several car camping spots and a little resort with cabins. There are also several backpacker sites along the Paulina lake trail. We stayed at one of the spots at the North Cove backpacker site. It was a luxurious backpacker site, with picnic tables and all. We started out at the the trailhead at the end of Little Crater campsite, which only required a NW forest pass for payment. On the 2.5 mile hike to the campsite, we passed through stinky reed-filled wetlands, amazing forests, the 5th largest obsidian flow in the country, and over the "red slide," where there is a large section of the crater consisting of red lava rock and the red dust that much of it has become. The obsidian flow is a crazy shiny black rock that resembles glass. Halen said at one point, "there's all this glass on the trail."
At the campsite, we set up camp, applied more bug spray, and started the business of throwing rocks in the lake. Halen learned how to skip rocks on this trip and it is his new obsession. His best skip consisted of 4 jumps! Not bad for a 5 year old. On day two, I hiked back to the truck to get the blow up kayak and paddled it back across the lake. We all played in lake, which isn't as cold as a lake over 5,000 feet in elevation should be, due to all the thermal activity. Late afternoon brought in a quick hail storm where we all headed for some reading time in the tent. After it passed, Halen was antsy to get back out of the tent in order to "leave no skipping rock unskipped."
On day three, we headed out. On the way, we stopped at the hot springs on the beach of the lake. These weird hot springs are holes dug into the sand on the lake shore. Their temperatures supposedly can vary from comfortable bath water temps to scalding hot that needs lake water added to cool it off. On the day we visited, the water was a comfortable temperature for the kids to play for a couple of hours and not overheat. I dug my own little hole nearby just to watch the phenomenon of it filling with hot water. The trick is to dig the hole deeper than the level of the lake and it'll fill with hot water. Totally weird and fascinating stuff!
The perks of this site where that it was easy to get to with kids, only 2.5 miles. Halen carried his own water and sleeping bag. Liam hiked the whole way back himself. He did get a little shoulder ride time on the way in. The lake was absolutely beautiful, clean, and swimable. The backpacker site was huge, had picnic tables, and we were the only ones there. The downside of this trip was that motorized boats are allowed on the lake. The max speed limit is 10 mph, so nobody is going fast, but it's such a remote pristine place, I wish the forest service would have opted to keep motorized boats out. There were also lots of mosquitoes. We went in early August. I imagine that spring and fall could be better for bugs.

Halen helping Liam paddle around in the kayak. He's the best big brother in the world!
Three little hot springs all in a row. Halen is cooling off in the lake. Liam is peeking out from the third spring.
Green hairy rocks.
Obsidian flow.
View from our campsite!
Stinky wetlands


Jill said...

Hooray for a post! Also, you should become a camper/hiker blog reviewer for people with kids. Good review.

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Aimee said...

Did you camp at the North Cove campground or the Warm Springs Campground? Did you need reservations?

Unknown said...

Camping outside of the established campgrounds is illegal. No dispersed camping is allowed in the caldera. This includes the hot springs area and the old North Cove campground. This information is well posted and mentioned in all monument publications.