Wheeling to Tucson ~ Friday October the 7th
Redmond Oregon South to Lava Beds NM and Siskiyou County California
This morning we said our Good-byes to Denny. The three of us would be going our separate ways today. Denny would be heading north to his home in Wenatchee WA and we would be heading south to Lava Beds National Monument in northeastern California.
Betsy and I first visited Lava Beds National Monument in June of 1982. That was 4 weeks into what would end up being a 7 week Honeymoon.
We made another visit 15 years later in June of 1996. Now we would again revisit the area which holds so many fond memories for us.
Saturday, June 19, 1982
We got an early start for Tule Lake Wildlife refuge. One of the neatest things we saw was a large group of white pelicans swimming down the waterway like some strange, silent parade. We also saw cliff swallows, eared & Western grebes, common egrets, cinnamon and blue winged teals, common mergansers, coots, song sparrows, black crowned night heron, Canada Geese.
Had lunch at a strange little hamburger joint in Tule Lake, & made a stop at the horseradish factory. ~ Betsy Beal Breiding
When we were here in 1982 and 1996 we spent a good bit of time birding along the edges of the lakes and the network of roadways. Back then we did a bit more birding than nowadays.
What is that!?
Little has changed in this area since our Honeymoon 34 years ago. One thing which has changed is the 15 dollar fee which is required for entry to Lava Beds National Monument. In 1982 the only fee was for camping, and that was minimal.
The Happy Couple: June 18th, 1982 at Schonchin Butte and Skull Cave sign.
Still happy and still a couple: October 7th, 2016
After taking that little photographic trip down memory lake we continued on up the hill to where the Visitors Center and campground is. We had our camping gear with us and had decided if we could get the same site we stayed in on our Honeymoon we would spend the night.
But as luck would have it the site was not available. In fact the entire loop was closed for a gathering of Modoc people.
The Modoc are a Native American people who originally lived in the area which is now northeastern California and central Southern Oregon. They are currently divided between Oregon and Oklahoma and are enrolled in either of two federally recognized tribes, the Klamath Tribes in Oregon and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma.
About 600 members of the tribe currently live in Klamath County, Oregon, in and around their ancestral homelands. This group included the Modoc who stayed on the reservation during the Modoc War, as well as the descendants of those who chose to return in 1909 to Oregon from Indian Territory in Oklahoma or Kansas. Since that time, many have followed the path of the Klamath. The shared tribal government of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin in Oregon is known as the Klamath Tribes.
Here is where we stayed in 1982 while on our Honeymoon. Amazingly when we made the return visit 1996 the site was empty.
We mentioned this to the folks in the site next to us and they could not believe out luck.
This is what makes this site so special. It is one of only two sites with this amazing view. Here is another entry from Betsy's journal.
Saturday, June 19, 1982
We siesta-ed in the afternoon & walked up to the visitor's center to call Mother & Daddy. I told them what a hot sunny day it was, and soon after getting off the phone, it began to cloud up.
The weather became worse & worse, and we could tell a big storm was brewing. We battened down the hatches and watched it come in. The wind & rain were fierce, and then the rain turned to hail. We watched it pile up, and when the storm was finally over, we crawled out and saw such piles of hail that it looked as if it had snowed. Also, the temperature had taken quite a drop. We took a walk after supper and there were still quite a few piles of hail left. ~ Betsy Beal Breiding
We stopped by the visitor center for a bit and did the usual - looked over the displays, bought some post cards and chatted with the staff.
One of the staffers was a very young looking 20 something. I told her about our first visit to Lava Beds on our Honeymoon in 1982. She seemed not impressed.
I asked for some route recommendations for our drive west later that day. I showed her the map we had which looked obviously foreign to her. She explained she was from the Bay Area and knew none of the local roads. When she went home she just followed the route Google Maps fed her. Such a spirit of adventure!
This is a Honeymoon view that was burned into our memories - Schonchin Butte
Schonchin Butte is a cinder cone on the northern flank of Medicine Lake Volcano in the Cascade Range in northern California. Frothy lava, cooled in the air, created the large cinder cones throughout Lava Beds National Monument. It is named for Old Schonchin, a chief of the Modoc people during the late nineteenth century. Erupting more than 30,000 years ago, the volcano spewed ash and cinders into the air much like a can of soda when shaken. A lava spatter rampart is at the very top.
The butte's three quarter mile long trail leads to a panoramic view from the historic fire lookout. From the lookout panoramic views of the Medicine Lake Volcano, Mount Shasta, Mount McLoughlin, the Clear Lake Hills and the Warner Mountains can be seen. On a really clear day, the south rim of Crater Lake in Oregon is visible.
The little "bump" in the photo top right is the "historic fire lookout" mentioned above. It certainly has some history for us!
More from Betsy's journal.
Sunday, June 20th , 1982
Weather still "iffy." We hiked to the lookout station at Schonchin Butte & found that a ranger and his son were staying up there on fire duty. He said there had been several lightening fires as a result of the storm the previous evening.
He also said he'd watched a lot of storms from a lot of lookout towers, but last night's was the worst he'd ever seen. It dropped an inch of rain, which is the usual total for that area from May-Oct.!
The ranger, Robert Boring, was very interesting to talk to, and turned out to be from Maple Hts! Afternoon we took some pictures & went into Balcony & Boulder Caves. It cleared off in the evening.
The "Maple Hts" mentioned above is Maple Heights, Ohio which is where Betsy worked for four years and just a stones throw away from Cleveland Heights where she was living when I met her. Small world and getting smaller.
Wide open vistas in every direction.
We decided to visit the area around Schonchin Butte and then decided to take the trail up to the old fire look out.
The Schonchin Butte Trail, created by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression, climbs 500 feet over 0.7 mile (1.1 km) to the fire lookout, also built by the CCC, at the top of the butte.
Schonchin Butte is one of many eruption sites on the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano. Numerous sites of previous eruptions including other cinder cones and lava flows can be seen from the top. Cinder cones are made of "scoria," a glassy rock filled with gas bubbles. 65,000 years ago, the eruption initially threw fountains of scoria high into the air, developing Schonchin Butte's large cone. As the eruption progressed, gasses trapped deep below escaped, causing pressure to release and the lava to stop changing into scoria. This heavier lava began to burrow through the cone's base, bulldozing the lighter scoria away. This process pulled the cone apart, creating the bowl-shoped crater on the summit and formed the Andesite of Schonchin Butte flow to the north of you.
A multitude of buttes and craters can be seen from the top of Schonchin Butte, as well as many different flows. You can also admire the nearby composite volcano, Mt. Shasta.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built a fire lookout at Schonchin Butte during the summers of 1939 and 1940, as part of federal infrastructure development under the President Franklin D. Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression. The site was selected for its view of Lava Beds National Monument, while the United States Forest Service wanted a lookout constructed on Hippo Butte, probably because of its view of the Modoc National Forest. The CCC crew manually carried all materials to the building site after constructing the trail.
Through the 1980s, rangers staffed the lookout for extended periods.
Schonchin Butte is staffed approximately from May to September from about 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., but park rangers stay longer in cases of extreme fire danger, fire activity, or significant lightning activity. Lookouts no longer live in the building and carry up daily supplies on their backs. The lack of electricity and cooking equipment also limit a lookout’s tour of duty.
This explained the always mind bending story of how things got the way they are - a least in theory.
Two Regions Meet
Two vast geologic provinces intersect on the horizon. To your left lies the Cascade Range, a volcanic arc home to dozens of volcanoes, including Medicine Lake Volcano and Mount McLoughlin. To your right is the Basin and Range province, a series of peaks and valleys that begins here and extends east to the Rocky Mountains. While the Cascade Range volcanoes are driven by the collision of two enormous plates, the Basin and Range is the result of a single plate pulling apart. As the plate stretches, the crust breaks, allowing giant slabs of rock to sink into the ground.
You can see where the crust cracked along Gillem Bluff. The cliff is actually the exposed surface of a steep fault, called a scarp. Over 10,000 years ago these valleys hosted enormous lakes that resembled inland seas. In 1900, Tule Lake covered 100,000 acres and was described as the "Everglades of the West." However, human activity has reduced the lake to one tenth its original size.
We had the place to ourselves which was really nice.
Solitude with a view...
I took a few snaps on the way back down the trail.
A shadowy handhold.
There were some beautiful views on the walk back down. In the distance is Tulelake. In the center foreground you can clearly see the "window" of a collapsed section of lava tube.
The is the so called "Devil's Homestead"
Roughly ninety percent of the lava in the Lava Beds Monument is basaltic. There are primarily two kinds of basaltic lava flows: pahoehoe and 'a'a. Pahoehoe is smooth, often ropy and is the most common type of lava in Lava Beds. Aa is formed when pahoehoe cools and loses some of its gases. Aa is rough, sharp, and jagged; an excellent example is the Devils Homestead lava flow, which originated at Fleener Chimneys. Most of the rest of the lava in the monument is andesitic. Pumice, a type of rhyolitic lava, also is found covering the monument; this rained down around 900 years ago during the eruption of Glass Mountain.
A few more looks at the Devil's Homestead.
It is amazing such a harsh environment can support life, but it does.
We said our good-byes to Lava Beds and started the drive west. The last bit of driving for today would take us near one of the most famous views of the Cascade Range in Northern California.
Our route would be back up SR 139 to Hatfield where we would hang a left and head west on SR 161 which just about straddles the Oregon/California State lines. Near Indian Tom Lake just north of the town of Dorris CA we intersected US 97 and headed south. US 97 and SR 161 are also known as the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is an All-American Road in the U.S. states of California and Oregon. It is roughly 500 miles (800 km) long and travels through the Cascade Range past numerous volcanoes. It is composed of two separate National Scenic Byways, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - Oregon and Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - California. The latter also wholly includes the Lassen Scenic Byway
Besides volcanoes, the byway passes near a number of waterfalls. The McCloud River Falls are north of Lake McCloud, which lies south of the highway, near the town of McCloud. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is further along Route 89 at Lake Britton.
What a fabulous view of Mount Shasta!
Mount Shasta is connected to nearby Shastina, and they dominate the northern California landscape. It rises abruptly and stands nearly 10,000 ft (3,000 m) above the surrounding terrain. On a clear winter day, snowy Mount Shasta can be seen from the floor of the Central Valley 140 miles (230 km) to the south. The mountain has attracted the attention of poets, authors, and presidents.
The mountain consists of four overlapping volcanic cones that have built a complex shape, including the main summit and the prominent satellite cone of 12,330 ft (3,760 m) Shastina, which has a visibly conical form. If Shastina were a separate mountain, it would rank as the fourth-highest peak of the Cascade Range (after Mount Rainier, Rainier's Liberty Cap, and Mount Shasta itself).
Dominating the landscape, Mt. Shasta can be seen for 100 miles from certain points drawing hikers, skiers and travelers. Mt. Shasta rises 11,000' from the base to summit for a total elevation of 14,162' above sea level, one of the nation's largest rises, ranking 49th. It is one of the southernmost volcanoes in the Cascade Range and is the second tallest, falling short of Mt. Rainier by 248'. It has a 17 mile diameter with 5 glaciers, the Whitney glacier being the largest in California. The most recent eruption occurred in 1786 and was witnessed from the sea by explorer La Perouse
Our day is nearly at a close now and what better way to close than with this lovely view of Mount Shasta and little sister Shastina.
Shastina is the highest satellite cone of Mount Shasta, and one of four overlapping volcanic cones which together form the most voluminous stratovolcano in the Cascade Range. At 12,335 feet (3,760 m), Shastina is taller than Mount Adams and would rank as the third highest volcano in the Cascades behind Mount Rainier and Shasta were it not nestled on the western flank of its higher neighbor. Shastina has a topographic prominence of over 450 ft (137 m) above the saddle connecting it with Shasta and easily exceeds the typical mountaineering standard of 300 feet (91 m) for a peak to qualify as an independent summit, yet most lists of Cascade volcanoes omit it nonetheless. The name "Shastina" is a diminutive of Shasta.
Now it was only about 25 miles to our final destination - Weed.
The town of Weed gets its name from the founder of the local lumber mill and pioneer Abner Weed, who discovered that the area's strong winds were helpful in drying lumber. In 1897, Abner Weed bought the Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile Mill and 280 acres of land in what is now the City of Weed, for the sum of $400. By the 1940s Weed boasted the world's largest sawmill.
The town of Weed gets its only source of public water from the Beaughan Spring. The pristine water is piped directly to homes.
In September 2016, the New York Times reported French billionaire Pierre Papillaud is demanding that Weed give up its Beaughan Spring spring water source so that Papillaud's bottle water company could have more water to sell. Disconnecting from Beaughan Spring would leave Weed without public water.
Following the NY Times link above to the story about the Weed and its water supply provided yet another David and Goliath story of "profits over people". It is an interesting read.
That night we bunked in the Motel 6 there in Weed. It had been a full day. Tomorrow we would be heading west into the heart of Siskiyou county and Forks of Salmon River. There we would visit some hill folk who live high up the mountain in a little piece of paradise.
See you next at the Godfrey Ranch, home to the Pepper Forrest Farm.