Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12 – Newberry Lava Lands

The temperature when we woke up was 5C. We don’t run a heater at night as the bed is warm enough. In the morning it doesn’t seem worth it to try and heat the RV for an hour before we leave for the day so getting out of bed is no fun. Our destination today was at lower elevation so it was bit warmer during the day.

The national monument is divided into 4 section. The first is the caldera where we are camped. We are off to see the other three.

First was the Lava Lands Visitors Center with lots of displays on volcanoes. Beside the center is a 500 foot high cinder cone called Lava Butte.


There is a spiral drive up but only about 10 parking spots at the top so everyone is given a ticket for a 1/2 hour slot. There is a crater that you walk around with panels explaining what you see.





There is a fire lookout station at the very top.



After our allotted time we hiked on the lava flow that had oozed out the side of the cone. This is a view of the 3/4 mile path from the top of the cone.







A view of Mount Bachelor, which we visited when we first got to Oregon, over the lava flow.


Next up was the Lava River Cave. It is a 1 mile long lava tube. Lava tubes are created when the top of a lava river crusts over as it cools. When the flow stops you are left with a hollow tube. This one was about 50 feet underground for the entire length.


You climbed down some stairs at the beginning but after that it was a fairly flat walk to the end and back.




The trick is that, once inside the cave there are NO lights. Everyone is told to being at least 2 flashlights or you can rent Coleman lanterns for $5. We tried to go down with what we thought were our bright LED flashlights. Finding ourselves blind, we quickly turned around and got a lantern.

It was back to thick coats as it is around 4C in the cave.



It was actually kind of good there were no lights. This is not the kind of cave we are used to. There are no stalactites, etc. It is just a mile long hollow tube. One room was quite large at 50’ wide by 58’ tall but in general it was about a 20’-30’ wide tube. With the lights on it probably would have been boring. Not so in the dark.

With a powerful flash.


What we could see with just the lantern.




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At the end it just got shorter and shorter. We turned around at the 3 foot height. Kids went farther.


We tried some long exposures using just the hidden lantern. We should have brought a tripod. I would have loved to have had my laser pointer in here.


Our final stop was a 9 mile drive on a very dusty road to the Lava Cast Forest. This is another huge lava flow from the Newberry volcano that ran through a forest of Ponderosa pines.


The flow was slow enough that it didn’t knock the trees over and they are fairly fire resistant so what is left is a bunch of circular holes in the lava after the trees decayed.


Some of the holes were quite large.





Lots of twisty trees.






It was a nice walk but it had been a long day so we went back to the RV to relax/collapse.

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