Here, along the Newberry Lava Flow, the adjoining Mountain Hemlock forest is as lonely and hollow as any I’ve been in. Equipped with droopy tip tops, long boughs packed with dark green needles and an array of different diameters and heights the trees stand like caricatures or scare crows. The trees here have grown and now shade out the understory and to seal the deal their needles fall from above forming an impenetrable mat on the forest floor. Almost nothing grows under the canopy making for open, almost park like walking. On hot summer days, the Mountain Hemlock keep their scent to themselves; a seemingly prudish act. Pine and fir competitors flaunt their scent around, filling the warm atmosphere with a thick and sweet smell warding off various insect predators. Individual trees can grow to be 800 years of age, nearly 200 feet tall and up to 7 feet in diameter. Despite the lonely feel, I know an entire community of other animals, plants, lichens and fungi persist here. The duff crackled underfoot slightly, but if I had been more careful with my foot placements I could’ve moved about with ninja silence. Soon, Devils Hill looms over as if to punctuate the Newberry Flow located on the Southern slopes of the Three Sisters Wilderness . The current features formed during a brief series of rhyolitic eruptions between 2000 and 2300 years ago depositing over 30 feet of tephra and pyroclastic material around the vents in the area. The resulting heat would have melted the existing snow pack at a fast pace producing small lahars which still influence the processes of the area. The slow moving lava flows cooled and solidified and now I’m using the boundary between the Mountain Hemlock and lava to navigate around. Emerging from the lonely trees vast piles of volcanic debris heave to forcing me to walk in round-about paths. Alone under the Devils Hill I was busy moving about the remnants of the areas volcanic creation with careful consideration of each step. The peaks of Three Sisters Wilderness eventually presided over the volcanic choss piles showing off their evening garb made of fast moving clouds and setting light. It was just me, the Devil in the Hill and the lonely forest.
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