Always know before you go. Or at least check yourself, before you wreck yourself.

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I was visiting a friend in Bend, Oregon over the summer and I was looking on for things to do. I saw a page on the Big Obsidian Flow Interpretive Trail. It’s located on the southern rim of Newberry Volcano’s 5-mile wide caldera and it’s the state’s largest obsidian flow. It’s described as a one-mile interpretive trail loop that offers incredible insight into the geological and human history of the region in addition to panoramic views of the rest of the caldera and the Three Sisters to the west. You can climb up and onto this impressive lava flow of obsidian (black glass) and pumice. At roughly 1,300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow is Newberry Volcano’s most recent eruption. Sounds cool, right?

So, I called up a couple of friends to see if they wanted to come along while the friend I was visiting was at work. They enthusiastically agreed and I promised I would see them the next day. I had checked GPS coordinates the night before by typing in Big Obsidian and the TH coordinates popped right up. Oh, man! I thought I would have a hard time locating the TH on Google Maps, but this was easy!

The next day, after we loaded up, one of my friends asked, “So, we’re headed south right?” I gave him an odd look and double checked my GPS coordinates and replied that we were supposed to go north. He returned my odd look with one of his, but refrained from further questioning.

We arrived at the TH and it clearly wasn’t what I was expecting. First of all, my friend lent me her dropped VW, which doesn’t offer a lot of ground clearance. She said we would be fine driving it because, having been there before, we would stay on a paved road to a paved parking lot. Google Maps instructed me to turn left onto an unpaved road where I quickly parked the car as soon as I noticed a pothole. “We’re here”, I said, with a nagging feeling as to how could this not be it??? There was a sign on the turn off that said Obsidian Trailhead. The three of us got out and started walking. We missed the TH completely the first time, ending back up at the car. The second time, we found it and finally started what we thought was the one mile interpretive loop. We continued uphill, entering an open old growth forest, hiking parallel to a huge old lava flow.

To wrap up this tale, we had hiked a little over 3 miles in before deciding to turn around because we had clearly missed a turn to the 1 mile loop. Once we got back to the car, I double checked my phone for info. And, oopsy!!!

We were at the WRONG trail head. The one we wanted was to the south in the Deschutes National Forest called the Obsidian Flow Trailhead. We were in the north, in the Three Sisters Wilderness, at the Obsidian Trailhead.  What a difference one word makes!

HUGE NOTE TO SELF:  Always, always, always, type in the FULL name of the point of interest you are looking for and double, triple, quadruple check your info.

Where we wanted to be:

Where we were:

Much love and Aloha,

your thoroughly clueless wanderer

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