Rogue River, OR

We may have mentioned the Rogue River a while ago when we were near Gold Beach where it enters the Pacific Ocean.  But little did we know it begins here near Crater Lake.  We also described lava tubes when we visited Lava Bed National Monument and went into some of the lava tube caves.  Well combine the Rogue River and Lava Tubes and guess what you get….

The Rogue River gorge and a natural bridge.

The gorge is not as deep or wide a many are, but is scenic and interesting.  They believe it was formed when a lava tube collapsed, creating this narrow gorge.

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The natural bridge was also pretty interesting.  You have this fast moving turbulent river that seems to disappear all of a sudden.  It goes underground following a lava tube for about 50 feet before it emerges.   Below you can see the turbulence of the river and nothing but rocks beyond.

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And here you see it emerging from the side of the river bank.  Notice how still the water up stream is in comparison.

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These were nice and interesting side points while staying at Diamond Lake near Crater Lake.  There are well maintained paved paths with informative signage. Other beauties we saw were National Creek Falls, beautiful and a nice walk to get to.

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And Mt. Thielsen, we thought it looked like a witch’s hat.

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Peace Love and keep it rogue!!!


Crater Lake National Park, OR


Crater Lake is what is left of Mount Mazama in southern Oregon.  About 7,700 years ago Mount Mazama had a very large eruption.  It is supposed that as the magma chamber emptied a ring of vents formed around the peak of Mt. Mazama and as this ring was completed, the entire top of the mountain collapsed on itself, creating a very large deep caldera.

Over the next several centuries this caldera was slowly filled with snow melt and rain fall and became this beautiful lake.  There is no water flowing into or out of Crater Lake which means that the water it contains is some of the purest water on the planet.  It is also the deepest lake in the US 1,949 at the deepest point and an average depth of over 1,100 feet.  Of course, with no inflow or outflow, the depth varies with weather conditions.   But with average snow fall of 44 feet, it stays pretty full.

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The magnificent blue of the lake is due to the great clarity and great depth of the lake.  Sunlight is basically sucked into the lake and absorbed, only the shorter blue rays are able to be reflected thus giving the lake its signature deep blue color.  The blue is much more vibrant on a sunny day, and as you can see it was pretty cloudy and rainy during part of our visit.  The combination of misty rain, being partially in the cloud and our high vantage point gave this nice shot of a rainbow looking down at the lake.

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The caldera rim ranges from 7 to 8,000 feet above sea level and the lake is at about 6,000 feet.  They estimate that Mt. Mazama was at least 12,000 feet when it collapsed meaning that over 4,000 feet of mountain was sucked up into the empty magma chamber, and the resulting caldera was almost 2,000 feet deep.   The blast that occurred when the mountain collapsed is estimated to have been 100 times stronger than Mt. St. Helens explosion in 1980.  But that was not the end of Mazama’s volcanic activity.  Wizard Island in the lake is evidence that the caldera attempted to fill itself via subsequent eruptions.  Actually, there are several cinder cones in the lake from later volcanos, but only Wizard is visible above the surface of the lake.

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The lake is surrounded on all sides by steep walls some as high as 2,000 feet.  In the summer they have a boat ride that takes you around the lake and to Wizard Island, but the only way down is to walk a mile down the steep edges and then after the ride walk back up.  Unfortunately (or not) they stopped the boat rides the week before we arrived.  The web site said that they were stopping early this year due to lack of employees???  Who knows, I am not sure if I was relieved or disappointed that they were stopped.  If they were still going we would have had to do it and I am not sure if I would have made it back up???

Another interesting feature in the lake is the Phantom Ship.  This is a natural rock formation on the southeastern side of the lake that resembles a ghost ship especially on foggy and rainy days.  See the difference.

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Although the lake is the main attraction, the park has other attractions.  Waterfalls, hikes, canyons and the like are numerous within the park.  There are also these features called pinnacles.  On the eastern side of the caldera about 7 miles from the rim are these beautiful spires or pinnacles.  They were originally volcanic vents and when the very hot volcanic gasses shot up thru the surrounding ash it created some what of a cement.  Over time the softer material has eroded and these pinnacles remain.

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They also boast that they have the highest paved road in Oregon within the park.  A short side road takes you up to Cloudcap Overlook at 7,865 feet.  It is aptly named Cloudcap as you can see what a difference a day makes…

Also, we have seen trees like these a lot of places.  The wind and weather only allow them to grow on one side, but I have never heard them called “Flag Trees.”  So we learned a new term.

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Peace Love and keep the volcanoes quite!!!



Newberry National Volcanic Monument

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Newberry Volcano is the largest in the Cascade volcanic arc located about 20 miles south of Bend Oregon.  Newberry covers an area 75 miles long and 27 miles wide and has many very good examples of volcanic activity in the area.  There are cinder cones with distinct craters, a 4 x 5 mile caldera, crater lakes, lava beds, lava caves and a large obsidian flow.

First let’s distinguish a crater from a caldera.  A crater is basically a vent for volcanic activity, an outlet for lava, volcanic gases, magma, etc and in our experience is usually conically shapes but upside down.  A caldera on the other hand is formed when a large eruption leaves a huge empty chamber underground where the magma was held.  When the material on top of this empty chamber collapses a caldera is formed.  This is not always the end of the volcano as molten lava under enough pressure will find another way out either creating a vent or crater within the caldera or opening another vent and creating another cone.

Lava Butte is a cinder cone within the national monument that you can drive up to view the surrounding lava fields and the crater.  Below is the crater and the surrounding lava beds.

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Several miles south of Lava Butte is the Newberry caldera.  We drove up Paulina point for a great view of the caldera and two crater lakes contained within the it.  Paulina Lake to the west and East Lake in the east (hence the name “East lake”).

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The large grey/white area south of and between the lakes is the obsidian flow.   This is the newest addition to the Newberry Volcanic exhibits dated to about 1,300 years ago.  Obsidian is a black volcanic glass that within this flow is mixed with white and grey pumice.  There is a trail thru part of this flow that was very interesting.  It was other worldly.  Notice the edge of the flow, stopped in its tracks it is about 40 feet higher than the surrounding landscape.  Pretty cool.

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We also visited this nice little waterfall on the way to Newberry, Tumalo Falls dropping 97 feet!!!

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Peace Love and Keep the volcanos quite!!!

Mt. Rainier, Washington

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Randy with Mt Rainier in the background…

Mt. Rainier is the tallest mountain in the state of Washington and the tallest in the Cascade Mountain range.  At 14,400 feet it dominates the landscape when the weather is clear enough to see it.  We began our quest to visit Mt. Rainier on a very cloudy morning, but the forecast promised it would clear in the afternoon.  Since we had a couple of hours of travel time we hoped the clouds would part before we arrived.

The fog was brutal on the drive but we held out hope.  Sunrise visitor center is on the northern side of the mountain and our first destination for the day.  It was still pretty cloudy upon arrival so we waited, read everything in the visitor center, had a picnic, and waited.  Got a sneak peak of part of the mountain and enjoyed the wild flowers.  Spring wildflowers in August quite a treat!!!

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We finally gave up and headed down and around the southern side to check out some waterfalls.  Luckily the clouds began to break up and got some nice views of the south side and some waterfalls.  All in all it was a very nice visit.

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Peace Love and justice for all!!!

Mt St Helens, Washington

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Mt. St. Helens exploded on May 18, 1980 over 39 years ago.  It was the deadliest and most economically devastating eruption in US history.  Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railway and 185 miles of highway were destroyed.  Luckily there had been a large earthquake a couple of months earlier in March so they were keeping a close eye on the volcano and expecting an eruption in the near future.  In the days prior to the eruption the northern side of the cone began to bulge up to five feet per day.

The eruption seemed imminent, but was much different than predicted.  A second earthquake triggered a massive landslide on the north face of the mountain moving over a half cubic mile of debris which allowed the volcanic cone to explode the northern side of the mountain.  In the end the mountain was 1300 feet shorter and instead of having a symmetric cone shape it was a horseshoe shaped creator.  So although it was very fast there was a chain reaction, earthquake caused the landslide, the landslide released the volcanic ash and debris which then melted the snow and glacier pack sending tons of slurry mud, trees and other debris racing down the valley.  The volcano continued to erupt for most of the day spewing ash and rock for many miles around.

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The effect on the surrounding forests was complete destruction.  What wasn’t pushed aside by the landslide was vaporized, burnt or simply blown down by the blast moving at over 300 mph.  As an example of the power of the blast, Spirit Lake to the north of the mountain was blasted up to 850 feet up the neighboring hill side and as the waves retreated it took the forest with it.  The lake rose over 200 feet due to the debris that settled in the lake and was covered with floating trees.  Now 39 years later a large part of the lake is still covered with dead trees trunks.  The greyish area are trees floating on the lake.  We hear they move from side to side depending on the wind…

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There are two main places to view the mountain and surrounding area.  Johnston Ridge Observatory and Windy Ridge View Point.  As the crow flies, they are probably less than 5 miles apart, but driving are over 4 hours apart.  It is interesting that the area approaching the Observatory are owned by private logging companies and have since been replanted and will soon start to be harvested.  Actually, the logging companies came in and salvaged the downed trees after the eruption.  While the National Monument area has been left to recover naturally.  There is a stark difference in the two areas.   Below is the naturally recovering area with dead trees both standing and laying on the ground.

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The snow/glacial melt also caused massive flooding in the surrounding area, changing the existing lakes and creating new ones.  With both the old and new lakes the outlets were blocked by ashen debris and there were fears that subsequent rain and snow melt would cause the debris dams to fail and flood downstream.  Below is Coldwater Lake a lake newly formed after this eruption.

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The Toutle river and surrounding valley flooded dramatically during the event and even washed trees as far away and Interstate 5.  The valley was covered up to 150 feet in ash and debris and has been slow to recover as shown below.

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Luckily, they were expecting this eruption or the loss of life would have been much worse.  Much of the immediate area had been closed.  But since the blast shot northward instead of straight up as expected much of the devastation was outside of the closed areas.  As a matter of fact of the 57 people killed by the event only 4 were in the closed areas.  The owners of this car did not survive.

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As you can see the creator and surrounding area are still steaming.  There have been multiple smaller eruptions since the main event in 1980 and we are sure that they will continue.  Mt St Helen in one of the youngest and most active of the volcanoes in the Cascades.

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An added bonus to our trip were these great views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams in the distance.

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Peace and Love from volcanic Cascade Mountains!!!

Sea to Sky Hwy – British Columbia, Canada

Being this close we really wanted to visit Canada.  But looking around it was really hard to decide where to go.  Canada is huge and appears to be mostly vast wilderness.  Very few roads except around the large metropolis areas and Vancouver Island only accessible via ferry. For a variety of reasons, we choose not to go to Vancouver Island, but tried to get a campsite near Vancouver City proper, but none were available.

We settled in Lynden just 7 miles from the border and decided to visit for a day trip.  Although it would be a long day we choose to take the Sea to Sky Highway 99 from Vancouver to Whistler, Canada for our first day trip.  The day started at the border with about an hour wait to cross.  The line was not that long it just didn’t move for a long time and when it did it was a very slow process.  Not sure what the hold up was??  That combined with a lot of highway construction on CA #1 made for a very slow start of the day.

The highway was very scenic starting with lovely views of Howe Sound.

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And continued up into the mountains with some views of snowy peaks.

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As you can see we did not have great weather for the drive, but what do you expect in the Pacific North West, or South West as far as Canada is concerned.  Our favorite spots (as usual) were the waterfalls.  Below is Shannon Falls a quite tall fall actually the third highest in BC.  It is right next to a gondola ride up the mountain side, which was closed because someone had intentionally cut the cable.  We had heard about this on the news and wondered how and why anyone would do this.  I am sure the cable was not cut with clippers!!!

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The second fall we visited was Brandywine falls, a completely different fall with a nice little walk to the viewing point.

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There was also a view of the Black Tusk an odd looking local landmark on the top of a nearby mountain.  It barely poked out of the surrounding clouds.

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Peace and Love from BC!!!

North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park is over 500,000 acres of pure wilderness.  There are two sections of the park the north and south split by the Skagit River and Lake Ross National Recreation Area.  Highway 20 follows the Skagit River and is what is advertised as the way to visit the National Park.

This highway doesn’t actually enter the national park.  There are no paved roads within the park lands and only a couple of gravel roads.  We drove east on Hwy 20 to the Ross Lake view points and back again.  There is a circle you can do around the southern section of the park and Lake Chelan, but we did not go the entire way maybe another day.

The Skagit River is dammed three times up here to create three distinct lakes and lots of hydroelectric power.  These dams product most if not all the power required to run Seattle, and presumably everything between here and there.  The lakes are (lowest to highest or west to east) Gorge Lake, Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.  They are beautiful especially the color of the water.  They are sparkly milky green/blue due to the amount of minerals carried into them from the glacier fed rivers.

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We found it interesting that the highest (first in the chain) Ross Lake was not this stunning turquoise color, more of a dark blue from what little we could see.  Could not find an explanation, but definitely a difference even on google earth.

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There was a nice water fall, and on the mountain shot notice the fire damage to the trees.

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But unless you are able to hike a long distance or four wheel on one of the gravel roads this is what you get from the heart of the “CASCADE MOUNTIANS.”  I hear there are 300 glaciers in the park and some of the most rugged mountains in the country so we wanted more.  Following the river, we were basically in the valley and really couldn’t see the mountains.

We found Hwy 542 north of the park up to Mt. Baker ski area and decided to try that.  It again does not touch the national park, but is in the Mt. Baker Mt. Shuksan national forest.  Most of the drive was pretty flat and we were wondering what kind of views we might find.  But the last 10 miles or so went straight up to the most magnificent views of the two mountains and many glaciers!!!  Yeah, we were so pleased and absolutely loved the views.

Mt. Shuksan –

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Mt. Baker, not as great as we would of liked because the hike we wanted to take was closed for maintenance, but better than the view from Anacortes.

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Also took a side trip to the Nooksack Falls (of course).  Nice but hard to view due to such steep cliffs and thankful for the fence keeping us back.

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Peace Love and save the glaciers!!!