January Dog Tale of the Month – 2-Day Broken Top Adventure
location: Broken Top, Central Oregon
On August 24th, 2009, Erik, Kaya and I set out to play for a few days on Broken Top, acomplex stratovolcano exposed by glacial erosion. Broken Top is spectacular, close to Bend, and has a fun jeep road leading directly to the base of the mountain… all good reasons to head out there!
- View of Broken Top from the trailhead
We didn’t really have a plan, but had food and gear for two days and one night out on the mountain. Being the ski junkies that we are, our primary goal was to get better acquainted with the area and scope some ski lines for next winter.
Broken Top doesn’t have any maintained trails, so you are pretty much on your own. We decided to head straight up the West ridge to check out some glaciers and the upper alpine area.
After about 3 hours of steep scree climbing and loose rock scrambling, we reached a saddle and had lunch. At this point, we discussed our options and decided to keep climbing until we found a suitable campsite. Plan B was to return to the saddle if we couldn’t find anything farther up.
- Kaya hanging out at lunch
We climbed for a few more hours, continuing to scramble up the steep scree slope. The humans were sliding back with every step, but Kaya was light on her paws and didn’t seem to mind the terrain.
- Kaya taking a break with South Sister in the background
- Mount Bachelor with Tumalo Mountain off to the left
Erik was climbing about 15 – 20 minutes ahead of Kaya and I. When it looked like he was getting quite close to the summit, he yelled down to us to stop climbing higher. Apparently the climbing got more technical and exposed, and he was worried about having the dog up there. So Kaya and I waited while he downclimbed back to our location. We enjoyed the view while we were waiting.
- The view across the bowl… check out those stripes!
Getting down was fun; now I can add scree sliding to my outdoor repertoire. We were basically in a controlled slide back down to the saddle. It reminded me quite a bit of sluff management, a technique for dealing with moving snow while skiing. We all got the hang of it pretty quickly and got used to the constant movement of the ground beneath our feet. Kaya made the humans look bad while she booked down with confidence and speed…
- Erik and Kaya headed back to the saddle
The handle on Kaya’s Palisades Pack™ was super helpful for getting her down off some of the larger rocks that we encountered on the way down. Kaya is totally fearless in general, but did seem to get a bit worried about hucking off the larger rocks into scree. Smart girl!
- About to pull a suitcase maneuver
Once we got back to the saddle, we set up camp. This was an incredible place to camp! Looking right, you could see South Sister’s East side and some of the Green Lakes. Looking left, you could see the lights of Bend in the distance. Looking up, the summit of Broken Top. It was spectacular!
- Camping up on the ridge, with Sparks lake in the distance
- Erik cooking breakfast, Kaya relaxing on her bed (spoiled dog!)
The next morning, we decided to head back down into the main bowl and cruise around in that area. The only way off the saddle was either to downlimb the way we came (not ideal) or head down the small bowl filled with snow just below our camp. Kaya, being the powder hound she is, ran right down the snow with total confidence. Erik carefully walked down the slope. I slid on my butt. It was the easiest descent of the trip!
Getting down into the main bowl was more crazy scree sliding and downclimbing. I probably dumped out my boots 10 times in about 1,000 vertical feet.
Once we were in the bowl, we got to enjoy the fabulous wildflowers growing along the streams fed from glacial runoff. The water was nice and cold, but not as delicious as I was hoping…
- Glacial stream with Broken Top in the background
- Kaya sniffing the breeze
After resting and rehydrating, we continued to wander along the streams toward Todd Lake. We did a big loop and finally ended up back at the trailhead, exhausted and happy.