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An Interesting Paulina Hike

Four club members left Thump coffee Sunday morning, August 27, and drove south on Hwy 97 through thick smoke towards the Newberry Crater.  This was actually my third choice for hike destination, as I was changing the plan almost daily to avoid the smoke.  The smoke dissipated as we drove up to Paulina Lake, and was actually “gone” by the time we parked to the side of the HIP camp entrance, just past the Big Obsidian Flow.  We bushwhacked across the road to find the Lost Lake Trail, which goes up the east side of the Obsidian Flow.

The first 2 miles were pretty uneventful, hiking quickly while it was still cool.  After a few switchbacks, the trail comes right up to the Obsidian Flow and becomes “interesting”.  Just beyond this first encounter, we reached the top of the Obsidian Flow to see that it also flows a bit to the south.  This section of the trail levels out as it crosses a small valley just below the Rim Trail.

At this point, we left the Lost Lake trail and headed southwest towards the Rim Trail.  We passed a very “interesting” flow line that seemed to have formed when the lava swept up against the hillside below the rim.  On top, we joined the Rim Trail and headed east for just over a mile on a relatively flat section with small, dispersed trees.  Forecasted temperature at this elevation was 65 degrees, and as we were exposed to a slight breeze this section was surprisingly pleasant.  After two switchbacks, we came to where the Lost Lake trail intersects with the Rim Trail, so we took it and headed east again in order to form a “lollipop” route configuration.

This short section of trail went through this “interesting” valley hidden here just below the caldera rim.  Within a mile, we came across a fine, pumice flat just off the trail, that I chose to call a “pumice meadow”.  A quarter mile later, we rejoined our up-trail and headed downhill.  Back at the car, our total hike turned out to be 9.2 miles and 5 hours.  Interesting, since my original route said 11.2 miles and 6 hours.  But no complaints here!