Lassen National Park – Part Two

If you have been following us on our journeys, you know that we tried to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in May but most of it was closed due to snow covered roads.  But in September we assumed the roads would be clear so we decided to finish our volcano tour with a visit to Lassen.   Lassen last erupted in 1915 giving it the distinction of being one of only two volcanos to erupt in the lower 48 in the twentieth century, the other was Mt. St. Helens.

We have not visited many places twice on this magnificent journey so it was pretty cool to compare Lassen now and back in May covered in snow.

The park is focused on volcanic activity including some geothermal activity.  The largest section of geothermal activity is in an area they call “Bumpass Hell.”  Although we loved the name, we did not walk the 6-mile round trip to see it but did see some nice mud pots.

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Beautiful area, adios to the Cascades until next time.

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Peace Love and thankful for the beautiful blue skies!!!

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!!!