Wednesday Morning we arose to a slight drizzle and a cool morning. A nice change to the heat of the day before. We gathered sweatshirts and hopped in the car to get an early start – munching on cold cereal as we drove out to the Lava Cast Forest. Reading from the brochure, it says that the Lava cast forest was formed about 6,000 years when Newberry Volcano erupted along a series of fissures on its northwest flank. It sent smooth -textured pahoehoe lava noto the surgace through many vents located along the fissures. The Lava surged through the forest, engulfing everything it encountered. A mile long trail wound through the flow with views of miles and miles of lava presenting a barren and wild landscape.
In the Lava Cast Forest you can find everything from the twisted and dying, to young beauty struggling and thriving.
The reason for the name Lava Cast Forest is because of the casts the lava formed around trees. As the lava rushed up against a tree it would cool rapidly, but the tree would burn and disintigrate – leaving a hole where the tree once stood. Many of these holes are visible. The deepest one we found was tall than Paul’s six foot walking stick. Many of the holes that we can’t see along the path are deeper than 15 or more feet.
Here you can see where a log lay sideways when it was engulfed by lava.
After our exciting mile long hike around the Lava Cast Forest we drove a little further down the road to the Lava River Cave. It is a mile long lava tube that extends deep underground. Lava tubes are formed in flows of pahoehoe basalt. Lava tubes are crusted over channels which condust lava to the advancing frount of the flows. Crust formation starts near the vent where the lava spews fromt he earth, then gradually progresses downslope along the lava stream. It builds and builds until the molten reiver of lava stops, the tube drains leaving an empty cave. In most places the tube is close to 30 feet tall – with another 30 meet of ground above you. We went armed with flashlights, and decided to just see how far we would get – after all Jacob had to walk, and he had already walked a mile that morning.
Descending into the cave.
The cave was pitch black and very rough going – gratefully we had a lot of batteries – and there were a lot of people down there, so we had plenty of light just from passing people. I was mildly surprised that none of the kids were scared. It was cold – the caves are an even 42 degrees faranheit year round. We had sweatshirts, but by the end everybody’s hands were very cold.
In some areas the flow split – you can see here where a second tube is above Paul’s head.
One of the neatest things in the caves was the sand garden, which was too hard to get a decent picture of. Water would leak through cracks and crevices and little by little erode the sand in the tube forming neat patterns and rows. There were little hills and deep crevices. It was fascinating to see something so delicate that had been create over hundreds of years.
We walked all the way to the end – well the where we couldn’t go anyfurther with the baby backpack on anyway, and turned back. After two miles in darkness (one mile there, one mile back) we were very grateful to see the light. Jacob managed to walk the whole way – though he was having a really tough time by the end of the walk. We were doing anything we could think of (aside from carrying him) to keep him happy and focused. That little guy is such a trooper.
We were all greatful for the heat when we climed out of the cave. The sun had burned off the morning fog and mist and it was HOT. We ate a picnic lunch and made a new friend.
We were nearing on into late afternoon, and there was one final stop that I wanted to make that day. – the Big Obsedian Flow, located a little ways past our campsite. So we drove back up past Paulina Lake and turned into the parking lot. Some ominous gray clouds were aproaching in the distance, but we felt good about taking the short 3/4 mile walk through the flow. We took Jacob as far as we could in the stroller, and then he had to walk again. It was amazing walk through gigantic chunks of sleek black obsidian, mixed with other more pumice like varieties of obsidian. When the clouds passed away from the sun the entire flow would sparkle.
We climbed a short set of stairs onto the flow – and were able to look down over Lost Lake. It amazes me first how abruptly the flow comes to a stop, and second how deep the flow was.
The trail was an exciting one winding between huge rocks with astounding views of the flow around us.
The clouds continued to move in and by the time Paul and the girls hit that tree we were feeling like we had best get off the flow. After all standing on a glass mountain when a storm comes isn’t too bright.
Paul, the girls, and Jacob headed back down while I scoped out the view from the tree and took a few pictures. The more pictures I stopped to take the more urgent a feeling I had to get off the mountain NOW. Giant raindrops began to splat upon my face urging me onward. When I heard a distant clap of thunder I really began to move.
We made it down and to the car as a second clap of thunder sounded nearby. By the time we were back to camp large drops of rain were plopping all around. The kids and I hung out in the tent coloring while Paul sat outside. There was no thunder, so we wondered what the urgenct had been, but we were grateful we had listened. Soon the clouds passed and the sun came out. Things were nice and cool, rather than the heavy heat, and we could relax with a yummy dinner. Jacob was exhausted, after having walked over three miles that day, and fell asleep quickly while I read to the girls at the campfire long into the night. They were amazed at the stars and were awarded with two falling stars. We even found a big toad on our late evening trip to the bathroom. I caught it and took it back to camp to show dad – the girls were delighted when it peed on me.
We finally turned in and dreamt of our adventures to come on our trip to Crater Lake the next day.