A Lava Desert

by Gillian Larson | posted: July 16, 2014

After finally completing that cursed section through the Three Sisters Wilderness, I continued going north the next day, working my way back up towards the Olallie Lake area around Mt. Jefferson and Three-Fingered Jack where I knew the snow was still bad and which I was already certain I would have to skip until a later date. But I wanted to make that portion as short as I could, and having ridden as far down from north as I could, I was now trying to go as far up from the south as possible, so that only a small area in-between would remain. So I was going today from the McKenzie Pass area by the 242 to Santiam Pass, along Highway 20 west of Sisters, Oregon. The air was hazy and full of the smell of smoke as we rode, the result of some wildfires that are burning around the Mt. Jefferson and Timothy Lake areas, which apparently were started by lightning during the thunderstorms that I was riding through all day on Sunday, the 13th (what is it about the 13th? On Friday, June 13th, I had the problem around Devil's Peak south of Crater Lake that sent me back to ride in California, and now a month later the 13th was connected to some more difficulty!). Much of today's trail passed through a bleak terrain of ancient lava flows, with jagged black rocks jumbled everywhere as far as I could see. This was the same sort of lava beds that Takoda and I had to somehow navigate after our accident on July 2nd, when we fell off the trail and couldn't get back to it. I had no choice but to try to find my way out, and the forest area was almost impenetrable, covered with fallen trees and waist-deep in snow in some places. The lava beds were almost as impossible to navigate of course, but at least we could see where we were going as we picked our way over the boulders. Takoda ended up losing one shoe in the process and loosening another, and he badly scratched up his legs, especially his hind fetlocks, on the sharp lava, but most of the time it was a better choice than the forest itself. I still can't believe we managed to do that; it was only possible for me to go one direction--downhill--but lucky for us that was the direction where a road was, and using my GPS we finally succeeded in reaching it. Going through the lava today brought a lot of those memories back, and I was once again grateful to have made it out okay.


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