Thursday, August 11, 2011

Travel Log: Lava Beds National Monument

I told y'all I never take myself too seriously. ;)
I realized that although i shared the disturbing infection that's killing bats all over the states, White-Nose Syndrome, that I forgot to tell the tale of our actual trip to the lava beds.

The Lava Beds is a pretty darn cool place, and a location that has been a must on the 'the cousins are visiting and need something to do' docket since I was a little kid. Needless to say, I got a bit burnt out on the whole thing and this was actually my first trip back in over SEVEN years! Wow. (I still can't believe i've been alive long enough to have 7 years ago put me over 7 years old. sheesh.) The lava beds in Tulelake are composted of fields of chunky lava, cinder cones, and cool as all get out lava tubes formed from cooling lava flowing above and below other cooling lava. You can get a lot more information from reading their literature.

My favorite lava tube has always been the Catacombs. It's the longest one, and you can really get lost in there and shimmy down tiny crannies if you're adventurous. It is advised to bring some maps with you if you plan on shimmying... I usually just go to crawling point and turn back. i was super excited to find a little hole in the wall that was my favorite go-to place as a child. I can remember bringing one set of cousins there one summer, and the 3 of us fitting through the little hole into a whole new (secret) chamber. The following summer and another set of cousins: i was too big. :( Darned those hips! I was excited to find it though, despite my non-fitting adult girth.

The lava beds is also a great place to hike and bike. The 'cave loop' is a nice little circuit with some hills and great views. If you're going caving, don't forget to bring good lights and a sweatshirt. It's always cool down in the caves, even when it's blistering hot up on the pavement/cinder fields. Headlamps work great for clambering about, but they're not quite bright enough, so another flashlight might be helpful. The Tulelake lava beds are in California, and the cost to get in is $10 a car and is good for 7 days. There is a campground up in Medicine Lake that is just fantastic (with great fishing!) and the visitor's center is worth checking out.

It's not too often that you get to wander about in such a wild place. Lavacicles and other neat formations really show how the tubes were made, and it's easy to imagine you're being sucked down a molten hot flow of lava.

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