Today was my first full day off since arriving at Tule Lake NWR last Monday, and I wanted to get out and about to learn something about the area I’ll be living in for about two months. There’s actually a National Monument only ten miles down the road from my rig, so I headed out this morning to take a look at it.
I thought Lava Beds NM might be very similar to Craters of the Moon NM in Idaho, but that isn’t so. Each place has unique features. Today’s journey was just a cursory visit to see what all was available. After four hours in the monument, I just barely scratched the surface of what’s available to see and do.
My first stop was a view of the Devil’s Homestead lava flow. It’s hard to convey the concept of this huge amount of lava with a photo. You just have to come here to see it to believe it. I decided, after stopping here, to just drive on to the visitors center before looking at anything else.
It’s a rather small VC, and the exhibits are minimal. There is a movie on a TV that I found very informative about the monument. This place has a tremendous amount of cultural and natural history. In subsequent visits, I’ll get more into the cultural history and the story of the Modoc people, and their war for freedom. There are also numerous caves to explore that were created by flows of smooth lava 10,500 to 65,000 years ago. I picked up a pamphlet on the description of these cave hikes for future reference. I’m planning on giving several a try. What an adventure this place would be for families with children… exploring caves with a helmet and flashlight!
While near the VC, I decided to take a drive to see the campground. Quite a few sites have beautiful views of the surrounding terrain. I’m guessing it’s at an elevation of about 5000’, and you’re looking over the basin. There are no hookups, but there is water available and flush toilets. Rigs up to 35’ can fit into some of the sites. Only one class C was setting up in the two loops as I visited.
I was pretty lucky today as much of the smoke from the surrounding wildfires had lessened. This is Schonchin Butte. If you look really closely at the top of it, you can see a little bump. That’s a manned fire tower, and I’m hoping to hike up to it for a visit when it cools down a bit. It’s at an elevation of 5302’, and I’m thinking there will be quite a view up there on a smoke free day.
As I drove to the trailhead for the fire tower, the view to the north was rather hazy. Looking down and out, I could make out Tule Lake in the distance with the crop fields in front of it. That whole area of crops used to be productive wetlands before the Bureau of Reclamation drained the marshes. The size of Tule Lake and the surrounding wetlands has been drastically reduced over time. Water, and its use, has been very controversial in this area for close to a hundred years.
|On the drive out, I stopped at Fleener Chimneys for a short hike up to hopefully get a view of Mount Shasta. Didn’t pan out.|
Fleener Chimneys pull off is also a picnic area, and the tables here, and I believe in the campground, were constructed by the CCC in the 1930’s. The Civilian Conservation Corps is another bit of the history of this area that I will need to explore further. This monument is quite a place.
When I got back to the rig, Emma and I sat outside for the rest of the afternoon in the low 90* temps. There does seem to be a nice breeze each later afternoon, and it is a ‘dry’ heat. While I haven’t been plagued by mosquitoes at this refuge, so far, there does seem to be an abundance of flies. I have a flyswatter with me when I sit outside. On a rather disgusting note, after I whack a fly Emma feels compelled to eat them. Yuck!
I leave you tonight with a pic of my biggest victory for the day. Skies were semi clear enough today to finally get a glimpse of Mount Shasta… more than 50 miles away as the crow flies:
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy