Friday, September 20, 2013

Lava Beds National Monument

from Bill...

After leaving Eagle Lake, we headed north to Lava Beds National Monument. This park is situated in a pretty desolate area near the Oregon border on the northern flank of the Medicine Lake Volcano, the largest volcano in the Cascade Range. The park is best known for its lava tubes that were formed by rivers of molten lava thousands of years ago. After one false start at a site where we had to elevate the rear wheels off the ground to get level, we found the perfect spot and got settled in for the night. Once again we were thrilled to take advantage of my Senior Parks Pass and paid only $5 a night.

The following morning we walked up to the visitor center to sign up for an afternoon tour of one of the caves and read up on the history of the place. Mostly, the history had to do with kicking the Native Americans off of their land, then killing them when they came to take it back; pretty sad.  Ranger Steve convinced us to buy spelunking helmets, commenting that no one has ever regretted buying them; in the end, we did - they were totally unnecessary. I had to intentionally bang my head on the ceiling a few times to make me feel better about the purchase.

The geology of the Lava Beds is fascinating and we spent the morning visiting a few caves and having lunch at the base of a huge cinder cone called Schonchin Butte. In the afternoon we joined Ranger Steve on a tour of the Golden Dome cave, which got its name from the gold-colored bacteria that grow on the ceiling. It was a fun and informative tour, but we both decided that we’d seen enough lava tubes and that it was time to move on towards Diamond and Crater Lakes.

A lot of annoying flies and one friendly moth that had hitched a ride on our flower pot.

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