So, the Cascade mountain range is mostly dormant volcanoes. This includes Lassen Volcanic NP which erupted last in 1915 and is not accessible at this time due to snow (in the middle of May). The lava beds are a result of a half million years of eruptions from the Medicine Lake shield volcano. The last eruption was over 20,000 years ago so this area is truly dormant unlike Lassen.
The main attraction at Lava Beds are the over 700 lava tube caves. These caves were formed as molten lava flowed from a volcanic eruption. As the lava on top was exposed to air and cooled the inner (below surface) flows continued to flow. These tubes cooled slowly from the outside in and when the lava quite flowing the hot molten lava evacuated leaving tube caves.
The caves in the park are not lit you have to take a flashlight, and there were not many people while we were there. Let me say first that after visiting Carlsbad Caverns just recently these caves are not Carlsbad. They do not have the nice formations or LED lighting showing you the way.
We visited several of these caves, but to be truthful it was pretty creepy and very dark. The caves were relatively small ducking and duck walking were involved in each. There was even one Merrill Cave that they say they use to let visitors ice skate in on the ice floor with lantern light, but it was so small and deep that I wouldn’t even go that far in. Randy said it was pretty small for skating. Anyway, something new to learn and experience. Here are some cave pictures.
There was one cave called Sunshine. The name is due to a couple of cave ins that allowed sunlight into the cave. This is worrisome to me??
There were a couple of areas we saw that appear to have been total cave collapses, not sure when or if this was an actual cave collapse, but it ended our caving for the day. This plus the caves were pretty creepy.
We also visited an actual volcanic crater. This was pretty cool, it looked like if you fell in that it would be very difficult to climb out so we made sure not to fall.
The area is high desert so there are not many trees etc, but I found it really interesting that these lava rock fields had not been overcome with vegetation after thousands of years. And when I was reading about Lassen and the devastated area from the 1915 eruption, they say it is mostly returned to its original forested state only a hundred years later??? Why??? Forest vs desert… The darker areas are the lava rocks and the lighter (green??) areas are natural high desert landscape.
One story that we learned here is of the Modoc Indians. There was a small band of Modoc Indians in the 1870s that the US Army decided should not be here (this of course is a simplified version, if you want the whole story look it up). The army outnumbered the Indians about 10 to 1 yet the Modoc were able to hold them off for several months. Eventually the tribe lost and the remaining (approx.) 150 Modoc were overtaken. After the conflict the US Army moved them to Oklahoma?? OKLAHOMA really, we civilized white people are not always so kind… Why would you take indigenous people 2 thousand miles away for keeping except to be cruel??? And less than 200 people, Wow just Wow.
And right here in the same area is the Tule Lake segregation center where over 15,000 (of the total 120,000) Japanese AMERICANS were incarcerated during the 2nd WW. The Japanese Americans were forcibly taken from their homes and kept in concentration camps, approximately 2/3 were American Citizens. Informational tours are given on certain days but not the day we were there, check web site before going.
Imagine the indignity – and they weren’t even BLACK!!! (If you know us you know this is tongue in cheek). Very thought-provoking quote on the signage outside of the “segregation camp” that we would like to share – THE TULE LAKE UNIT IS A REMINDER TO ALL AMERICANS THAT THE CONSTITUTION IS NO MORE THAN A PIECE OF PAPER UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO DEFEND ITS PRINCIPLES. Food for thought especially at this time in history.
Peace Love and Justice for all!!!