Herding Butterflies at Sparkling Sparks Lake

South Sister. Spark's LakeIf you’re looking for something that will appeal to 34 out of 34 travelers Family Hiking in the 8-month to 74-year-old range, Ray Atkeson Trail try hiking Spark Lake’s 1.6-mile Ray Atkeson Trail to Davis Canyon, Ray Atkeson Memorial Markermade famous by the late, great landscape photographer and Oregon laureate. View of South Sister from Spark's Lake Spark’s Lake was rated #1 on our list of 24 attractions in Bend, Oregon,
where we held our family reunion last week.  Mt. Bachelor This pristine lake is just 25 miles west of Bend on Cascade Lakes Highway 46 and nestled below Mt. Bachelor (9,065′). Kayaking on Sparks LakeIt’s an emerald green lake filled with transparent watersBroken Top and the grandeur of Broken Top (9,175′)South Sister from Spark's Lakeand South Sister (10,358′) painted in the background. Spark's Lake is shallow. Broken Top in backgroundAlthough Sparks Lake is a modest 370 acres and extremely shallow (the average depth is a mighty one foot and the maximum depth is only seven to ten feet deep, depending on the season), Ray Atkeson Trailit’s surrounded by another 360 acres of woods, streams, & meadows dappled with yellow Indian pond lilies, scarlet columbine, Purple Larkspurand purple larkspur.Beautiful Spark's LakeWhen Mt. Bachelor erupted many millennia ago, it formed a lava dam and lava basin that filled with snow melt from the surrounding mountains via Soda and Fall creeks, but Spark’s Lake  doesn’t directly feed into any outgoing stream. Spark's Lake fissuresInstead, groundwater filters out of the lake through cracks and fissures in the volcanic rock that becomes part of a subterranean ecosystem thought to be the source of the Deschutes River. It’s said that you can actually hear eerie gurgling noises at some points where the water seeps out, Spark's Lake. Shallow and often by mid-August boaters get stuck at places and end up having to walk their boats out of the shallow waters (which is hard on the nymph population and fragile plant growth). Young hikers at Sparks LakeOur family reunion group of 34 eager beavers traversed the trail last week at the end of July on a gloriously blue-skied day.  Alan and Kathi at Spark's Lake Alan always says that trying to get his 60+ psychiatrists to agree on hospital policies is like trying to herd cats. DSCN5538My oldest brother, Rob, was rumored to say that trying to get the 34 members of our reunion group to agree on a single time, place, and direction for an adventure was like trying to herd butterflies. Alan and Wolle at Spark's LakeIn fact, Alan and I left early to hike the trail with our brother Wolle, because he had to leave before the others could arrive in order to pick up his daughter, Downtown BendDr. Dawn Ward, who was just able to fly in from Mexico for a few days. Spark's Lake and South Sister  The entire loop can be hiked in less than an hour, so Alan and I were more than ready to go again by the time the rest of our hearty explorers arrived. Aaron on Atkeson Trail However, some had no kids, some had 2 teens, and some had 2/4/6 youngsters in tow, so the group straggled and strained until one group had departed to the Spark's Lake and Little Guysleft, another to the right, and the last was left unsure of which way to go. Reid in Davis Canyon (That included me, sympathizer with the “none left behind” philosophy.) Spark's Lake. Islands The Atkeson Trail is geologically diverse and truly fascinating Davis Canyon with snow in bottom. August. 2014 (note that snow was still present in the bottom of some of the deepest fissures), Descutes National Forest but it’s also a simple trail—if you start to the right just keep turning left, or if you start to the left, just keep turning right—and you won’t get too lost for too long, Spark's Lake Trail Eventually, we passed each other, and we all had a glorious trip, Spark's Lake Boat Launch ending back at the boat launch (which is the trail head, unless you’re camping) Picnic on Spark's Lakeat the same time for a starving artist picnic and a cooling splash in the lake. Picnic at Spark's LakeAs far as I know, everybody from the oldest to the youngest butterfly did manage Spark's Lake Picnicto find their way back smiling and safe, albeit smudgy and somwhat sleepy too.Picnic on Spark's LakeSo, I think we couldn’t really herd our butterflies, but we certainly enjoyed flitting with them from beauty to beauty during the reunion. Thankfully, there is One who can guide us whether we’re a sheep, a cat, or a butterfly!Sparks Lake. South Sister“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me” (Psalm 31:3).

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).

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