Monday, June 24, 2013

Hosmer Lake – Cascade Lakes

Hosmer Lake – Cascade Lakes

Up in the mountains of central Oregon is a string of lakes called Cascade Lakes. These lakes are formed by old lava formations and snow melt and they are all inter-connected by underground rivers and perhaps through old lava tubes. We are going to visit a couple of them on this trip.

View Hosmer Lake in a larger map

We are starting out from our very centrally located base of operations here at Mount Bachelor Village. This is a great little condo place with views along the Deschutes river. I guess the prices in Bend are pretty reasonable if you come just before the summer season kicks off (which means, when the snowline on Mount Bachelor is high enough that the summer sports can really get going). Just a 30 minute drive from our condo is our first lake destination, Hosmer Lake.

That is Mount Bachelor
Is it any coincidence that the Bachelor took up residence next to the three Sisters?

A Bob of Kayaks.

Look at the size of those Lily Pads !!

These Cascade lakes are generally pretty shallow. Perhaps only a couple of feet through much of their area. Hosmer is bordered by reeds and water lilies (already past bloom, alas). There were a lot of fly fisherman in the water and, with our group of 16 kayakers, the little boat ramp parking lot was pretty full. But kayaks and fly-fishing paddle floats don't take up much room and everyone was friendly and easy-going, so we made out OK.

Out on the paddle, we immediately ran into some interesting birds. First, an Osprey in a dead tree (being bothered by some little bird. Why do they do that?). Then a set of ring neck ducks. (Note the purple ring in the picture. I was assured that it was rare to get such a good picture of the ring).

Ring Neck Duck
Osprey (and Tree)

I was having fun paddling through the reeds. If you get going fast enough you can zoom through the reeds like a space ship. You have to keep paddling though, or you stall out and then everyone paddles past you laughing and making “jon is in prison” jokes.
They never suspect what lurks in the reeds.

The reeds gave way to a boggy like region. Low grassy islands surrounded by low shrubs that I am going to identify as blueberry. So tall grasses growing amongst the shrubs and some scrub pine on the little islands themselves. What was that moving off over those reeds on that island. A head poking up and staring at me. Another head. Long skinny necks and red flairs on the head. Is that some sort of snake. Are the reeds infested with cobras? I paddle closer. Must be a bird. But what kind of bird? Surely not a heron. Not a goose. I am thinking something like an ostrich but that is as crazy as cobra. What are they? I coast up to the bank of the island. I can't really see the interior because my view is blocked by the shrubbery. And then the.... the things.... get upset and they set to squawking. They sound like an old model T just turning over. Man they make a raucous. I tried to make a recording of the sound, Can I put it here?

What IS that? A giant Snake?
No, A Sand Hill Crane. Named "Bob"

Is that a Male and a female? Or a youngster?

The civil engineer turned eco-activist (whom we shall call 'Bob') in the group identifies them as Sandhill Cranes. He asks that we back off and not stress them. He says the fact that they have not flown away means that either they are thinking about nesting here or they have already had their one baby, which is called a calf (editor's note: "Bob" says it is actually called a COLT. Sorry "Bob"). I got some pictures anyway. Don't tell "Bob".

My partner wanted me to hold her kayak so she could stand up and take pictures of the cranes (over the top of the shrubbery, don't you know) but I wouldn't do it. At the time it was because she wasn't wearing a wetsuit and if I dropped her she would be cold and I would be miserable. She scoffed at me. But later I realized that I couldn't have done it because I didn't have my spray skirt !! See, when you hold someones kayak firmly, either for re-entry or for them to stand up and show off, you need to lean over on their foredeck and grab on and put your boat way up on edge. Now you are in a good leverage position and the boat your are holding is very secure. However, your boat, way up on edge, will naturally have the cowling under water. And so, if you don't have you spray skirt on, your boat will fill up with water and you will sink and drown and freeze to death all the while making sure that your partner is perfectly safe and stable and dry whilst standing and shooting pictures of Sandhill cranes. But I digress.

Around the corner and our guide (e.g. the club member that has been here before) finds the little creek that leads up the creek that is the fill source for Hosmer. We paddle up the 1 kayak wide creek for a few hundred yards. Along the way we pass a few trees that have fallen in the creek and then had kayak sized sections removed from them by chain saw. Sure signs of intelligent life. We finnally come to a little beach area right in front of a darling little water fall (well, rapid). We beached the kayaks here and ate lunch.



Indian Paint Brush
Shooting Star

Purple Flower (also called "Purple Bob")

Lot's of new wild flowers for me to see. The main new one that I identified (well, ok, the wild flower expert told me, we will refer to here as "Bob") was a beautiful purple shooting star. There was also some very nice Indian Paintbrush. I got a few other things that I need to look up in my flower book once I get home.

After lunch we started to retrace our steps and were rewarded with our first sun-shine of the day. The lake changed color and became even more charming than it was. I loved the shadows of the lilies on the bottom. What fun. Never did see any fish though.

We retraced our paddle back to the boat ramp. The wind was picking up a little, but this little lake is pretty sheltered and even when the wind picks up I don't think that you have worry about wave action.

But talking about the weather, that is one thing you should worry about a little on these high mountain lakes. We are paddling right now on the first day of summer, and the weather started out cold enough that people were wearing a few layers and rain jackets and still getting very cold. Lots of cold feet. Wear wool socks, at least, if you are prone to cold feet. My partner was kayaking here with her family last August and they were caught in a rain storm where the rain was so thick you couldn't see the shore just 50 feet away and then it turned to large hail and they had ice on their boats before they finished the paddle. So. Layers. Rain Coat. Perhaps your spray skirt. Change of clothes in a dry bag in the stern.

Last little event of the kayak. We got dive bombed by a lovely bird that was zipping around the lake. Hunting something. Bugs? It had swept wings that looked a lot like an osprey but it was smaller and the wings had white slashes on the bottom. Night Hawk. I think I will cheat and steal a picture from some other source for you.

Bob, the Night Hawk

or this one:

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