Saturday, September 26, 2009

September stuff

Monday, September 21, 2009

Up in the Lava Beds - Northern California




August 28-30, 2009

We drove north (almost to the Oregon border) to meet friends Ben Roark and Lori Joiner at Medicine Lake to camp, to canoe & fish, and to explore nearby Glass Mountain and Lava Beds National Monument, which is not a single monument, but a series of caves, lava tubes, and rock formations. This part of the state was originally an active volcanic area. The volcanoes exploded, throwing off rhyolite and other light-colored rock (looks like foam sponges, very light-weight), followed by molten rock. This rock formed tubes, down which magma flowed. This hardened as is cooled forming obsidian and other dark minerals. As the tubes collapsed over the eons, caves were formed.

This is an overlook where we usually stop on our way to Ben's house. The fire occured earlier this year. We were rather stunned by the destruction, but it also offered a better look at some of the lava flows below this hill. The mountain featured in a couple of the photos is Mount Lassen. Medicine Lake is closer to Mount Shasta and the town of McCloud.

Burnt pine cones
Medicine Lake - the clouds made for a glorious sunset (photos by Grant)

Grant sets up the teepee he made out of a parachute

Teepee completed (nice to be able to stand up in one's home away from home)

Breakfast Saturday morning

The wake of a fast canoe (Grant likes to use a small motor)

The air temperature was in the 40's - Lori is either brave or a little crazy

Ben has no intention of getting IN the water, which was very low this year. He told us ospreys are normally numerous here, but we only saw two during our time here.

The road leading to Glass Mountain, lined with lodgepole pine, which only grow at upper elevations.

The strangest part of this (to me) is how the volcanic debris was on one side of this road, while on the other, there's only decomposed rhyolite & cinnibar, which was like picking up a handful of mailing popcorn!

The road looking the other way with an outcropping of obsidian (glass)

Glass Mountain in the background - obsidian "falls" in the distance

You can just see Ben and Grant near the obsidian, to get perspective

(Rock hunters...shhh!)

I call these "glass worms"...a layer of obsidian embedded in the lighter "foamy" rhyolite

If you could see this picture up closer, you'd see how much shiny glass there is everywhere

The orange rock, Ben told us, is cinnabar, embedded in an obsidian outcropping

The layering is awesome, and the color variations ranged from black to grey to greenish!

So much of this place looked like this...when you get to exploring further and further in, it's easy to get lost unless you climb atop one of these piles to get your bearings. The sound walking on the stuff is a "tinkling" because of all the glass...I've never heard anything like it!!! I was a little concerned for Ben's doggie, Amy, for fear she might cut her paws. The two old codgers (Ben & Grant) hiked quite a ways in, and were sorry later because of walking over the uneven ground, but not sorry enough to not want to do it again one day soon!

Final morning in camp

I insisted on paddling the canoe to the boat launch (not as easy as I'd thought with the breeze!)

Our Sunday outing. We definitely want to go back up here!!!

This is called Happy's a sunken lava tube

Mammoth Crater - the mouth of a lava tube that ends somewhere down in the valley near Redding!

Cinnabar outcrop

I took this picture to show just how deep this crater is.

Heppe Ice Cave - hard to believe how cold it is inside the cave. The outside air temperature was in the 90's. I had to stop from going deep inside because it was so cold and I hadn't brought a sweater!

Mountain Mahogany seedpods

Grant is really in here, but it's impossible to see him (if you can see the orange dot it's his flashlight)

This opening was on the other side of the cave from the entrance. Grant, Ben, and Amy decided to hike down in, and up & out to see what was on the other side. Too bad we didn't have more time to explore.
This is the view of the entrance from inside the cave
Inside the ice cave...calcite leaching out (called Caliche by the natives)

More photos of the inside taken by Grant

Can you spot the two friends hiking back out of the cave?

Cinnabar rock formations
Lava Beds National Monument Visitors Center (flag in honor of Edward Kennedy)

Native Modoc Baskets

Stopping for lunch
Must have cigarettes...

MUST have cigarettes!!!!

Heading home