Tuesday, July 28, 2015


On the way to yet another waterfall. I've gotten so blasé. The water's not even moving very fast.
Outnumbered by families on bicycles. Sunriver is just too tidy for me, with its bumper cars and water slides and numbered roundabouts. 
I did love the raptors' demonstration at the High Desert Museum, especially this white barn owl flying nearby. 
And these jagged rocks. 
And the rushing water as the creek narrowed. 
It all pays off in the end. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Miller time

Sometimes the best hike is the easiest. 
Today I walked around Miller Lake. It was a short detour on a gravel road off my route from Fort Klamath up to Sunriver. 
It was full of purple flowers and woodpeckers and butterflies. 
And lots of pine cones. 
Some logs had fallen in the water and formed an isosceles triangle. 
A few people fished, close to the campground at Digit Point. Otherwise I saw exactly one other person on the trail in two hours. 
Me, I just walked. And walked. All the way around. 
Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

deep blue sea

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1946 feet.
The rim at its highest is roughly the same 1900 feet above the water. 
It's also the clearest lake in the world with visibility of over 100 feet. 
When the sun comes out, so do the colors. 
I saw people swimming despite the surface temperature of 59 degrees. 
It was created not by a meteor but by a volcanic eruption 7700 years ago, 100 times that of Mt St Helens in 1980 and perhaps the largest eruption and collapse in history. 
Everything about Crater Lake is filled with superlatives. 

The formations have fanciful names like phantom ship (above). The ranger on our boat was a geologist who pointed out all the layers of sediment and lichens (the light green on the Pallisades below) and erosion and seepage. 
This is Wizard Island, the volcano inside the volcano. A bunch of tourists on a fishing trip were waiting to be picked up. Rainbow trout and salmon were introduced. Apparently there's now a bit of a crayfish problem(!). 
All in all, a pretty blissful spot. 
True blue in every direction. 
Surrounded by forests. You can see why the Klamath people considered it sacred. 

PS: I've wanted to go to Crater Lake for years. I've talked about with John and Jill in Ashland. I've flown over it. But what finally got me here was my trip to Quilotoa, a very pretty but much smaller crater lake at 13,000 feet elevation in Ecuador. My misadventures there are recorded in this post.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

subterranean blues

Lava Beds strikes a delicate balance between spelunkers looking for adventure and tourists looking for an easy, packaged cave experience, all the while looking out for the delicate environment and real dangers of people disappearing and never being seen again.

I'm not that sure-footed, and I get claustrophobic, and I haven't always loved the caves I've been to in the past: Oregon Caves was cheesy and slippery and crowded, and Howe Caverns in upstate New York terrified me with the elevator hundreds of feet beneath the surface and the moment they turned the lights out in the boat and all the bats flew by. 

But I did love the cave filled with glow worms in New Zealand. And Carlsbad Caverns, a roadside attraction of a different era, filled me with awe. 
So today I visited four of the easy caves at Lava Beds and then went for a hike called the Big Nasty by Mammoth Crater. 
Pretty impressive, right? And even though it was a Saturday in summer, hardly anyone was there. You could wander in a cave and have the whole place to yourself. 

This is me : 

I had my Langer's "hot" pastrami baseball cap and a dorky headlamp and of course my iPhone flashlight, but you get the idea. 
My favorite was Valentine cave which has two arteries that meet up, like a heart or a subway tunnel. 
I did feel momentarily overwhelmed by the vastness of Skull cave. It had 20+-foot ceilings.
The people who went in ahead of me seemed to vanish into the darkness and their voices grew quieter and quieter. 
Or maybe it's that post-apocalyptic novel I'm reading, imagining living underground for years, with the skylight and the cave opening sealed. 

The Mushpot cave even has a classroom and lights on the floor, like an airplane. 
And warnings before you conk your head on the sharp lava rock. 
At the end of the day, it sure is nice to emerge back into the bright daylight, and take a deep breath, and appreciate the vastness of the sky. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

I keep on falling

I wasn't planning on going to Burney Falls, in fact I'd never heard of them. Thank you, Laura, for recommending the stop.
Burney Creek empties into the Sacramento and eventually into the Pacific. 
The area is all forest and lava rocks; not especially scenic until you come upon the falls.

McArthur-Burney state park has a cute visitor center, a few log cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30s, and a picnic area with plugs and wifi where people getting off the Pacific Crest Trail stop to recharge.

I'd planned to go to Lava Beds but was so engrossed in the post-apocalyptic novel I'm listening to that I missed the turn for Medicine Lake. So I stopped at a crowded Mexican restaurant for tasty birria and pulled into Tulelake in time to check into my B&B and head out for sunset on the wildlife refuge.

The lake has thoughtfully placed photo sheds. I saw pelicans and egrets, surprising so far inland. And lots of blue dragonflies, and butterflies, and a couple of long-eared bunnies.
It's a little swampy, but the air was cool and pleasant.
Tulelake is a 15-block town, best known for growing horseradish and for being the location of an internment camp for Japanese immigrants and Japanese–Americans during World War II. They're working on a more permanent memorial, but for now there are photos in the fair building. It's remote, and while not as bleak a spot as Manzanar or some of the colder camps, hard to imagine American families imprisoned here for 3 years, their possessions confiscated (many permanently), as a result of martial law.
Golden hour delivered.
Fe, my hostess, suggested heading out to Petroglyph Point for sunset. The Modoc believe that Kamookumpts, the creator of the world, sleeps here at night.
I didn't see any petroglyphs, but the light was magical.
Tomorrow: visiting the lava tubes at Lava Beds.