The days are shorter and darker, and it stays cold until midday. Snow poles are being inserted on the edges of the roads that will remain open, snow ploughs are being tested, road closure signs and barriers are being put in place, irrelevant signage for the winter season is covered in layers of thick plastic, bear boxes, trash bins, and information boxes are emptied and where possible turned over to prevent usage. In the words of Bob Dylan “the times they are a changing!”
We too have this feeling of closure. We get up later. We
return a little earlier. We pace ourselves by doing three things, not five.
We’re very relaxed. Unlike the city and the national park touring where we are
stimulated at every turn with new or different sensors, here we simply enjoy
immersing ourselves within the sameness of the environment. Breathing air,
seeing the sky, feeling the skin tingle, catching reflections in water, hearing
leaves fall. It is calming and connecting – Mother Nature at her best. Miles
upon miles of pine forest interspersed with lakes, peaks, rivers and rocks. It
appears endless and seems to go into the realm of infinity.
There are so many trails on offer in this neighbourhood
alone, that you’d need a lifetime to complete them, so we accept defeat
graciously and simply enjoy each moment in time – hugely contrasting to our
usual pattern of planning and doing. Chilling in the chill factor.
We visit the Sunriver Nature Centre and walk the trail
around Aspen Lake at its centre. We bump into the newlywed couple from the unit
below us. Chad plays the guitar and we have heard his melodies strummed gently in
the background most nights.
Four river otters are catching fish, giving us intense
stares and generally having fun.
Trumpeter Swans and their 3 cygnets are making sure every
feather is in perfect shape for flight.
Black-capped Chickadees are flitting about the pine trees
and calling to each other while a female Mallard contemplates the level of
threat a 400-mm zoom lens may pose.
We enter Newberry National Volcanic Monument a place
where Obsidian poaching is rife?
A picnic lunch at the Obsidian Flow Trailhead refuels us. I,m getting good at SLR selfies from crooked surfaces!
Grey Jays or Canada Jays surround us hopefully. We abide by the park rules of leaving nary a crumb in order to keep wild animals wild. The grey squirrel seems to be doing okay on the local fare.
We trail up and up to see the Obsidian Flow.
Obsidian is basically black glass and is mesmerizing in
its contrast to the usual lava rock with which it is interspersed. Glossy glass
– hard, black and shiny.
The amenities surrounding East and Paulina Lakes which lie
within the Newberry caldera are all closed, but the lakes are still there. There
are a few die-hard fishermen on float-tubes together with some die-hard diving
ducks, predominately buffleheads and a die-hard birder hoping for a lifer.
Another breath-taking scene of an “Alpine Cake” with only
four basic ingredients – a lake, sprinkle in a few rocks, plenty of trees and add
reflections to taste.
Testing out our own little village we take afternoon coffee with a mixed berry slice at the coffee house – Brewed Awakening”. The Americans have the baking of fluffy slices, muffins, pancakes, waffles and pie off pat. But the Adopt a Highway signs just keep on getting weirder!