Lava Beds National Monument

November 16, 2020 at 5:00 am (California, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )

Modoc National Forest

Lava Beds National Monument, California, the second volcanic site on my summer trip north, had just re-opened following a fierce wildfire. The journey through the Modoc National Forest to the park entrance was jaw-dropping in its devastation.

Lava outcroppings amid fire devastation

I had never seen a landscape so soon after an intense wildfire, and there was barely a drop of green for miles and miles. The Caldwell Fire left ash and skeletons in its wake.

It was with a mixture of horror and fascination that I was drawn to find ways to photograph what was left. It was morbidly beautiful. The park itself had 70 percent of its land burned and off-limits, and you could see untouched sage and juniper on one side of the road and a blackened wasteland on the other.

A backfire?

This may have been a controlled backfire meant to keep the wildfire from spreading further.

The visitor center was spared, fortunately, and the many small caves around it were open. I didn’t realize Lava Beds was known for its vast system of caves. Being claustrophobic, that held no interest for me.

Schonchin Butte

Fire scorched the Schonchin Butte, a distinctive landmark with a fire tower at top.

The most fascinating (to me) portion was in a separate and detached section: Petroglyph Point.

The long wall of petroglyphs was behind a fence to prevent vandalism. Immediately before the fenced section is a wall of modern graffiti.

The piles of pigeon feathers may have been the work of peregrine falcons. There were also cliff swallow nests and interesting patterns in the rocks higher up.

The day ended at nearby Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, with thousands of American coots, juvenile and nonbreeding ducks, eared and pie-billed grebes, and ruddy ducks.

I spent the night in Bend, Oregon and continued the next morning on Hwy 97, 26, and the “scenic” 35 to the Columbia River. The latter took me very close to Mt. Hood, but I didn’t stop for photos. I could never get used to not pumping my own gas in Oregon. It just seemed weird.

Once across the Columbia, I headed toward the famous Windy Ridge at Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I stopped at a drive-up cafe for a delicious pulled-pork sandwich in the little town of Carson, and took a turkey sandwich with me for dinner.

Next: The Day Mt. St. Helens Erupted

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre
Feel free to reblog or share
Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America
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