We spent the whole day at Lava Beds National Monument. The first two pictures show Fleener Chimneys — three spatter cones that were created by globs of molten lava piling on top of each other. The lava that created these cones is the same lava that flowed down and cooled creating the Devil’s Homestead lava flow that was mentioned yesterday.
The third picture shows Captain Jack’s Stronghold. During the Modoc War, Captain Jack’s band (Modoc Indians who left the reservation in Oregon and came back to their homeland) settled here and held off United States Army force outnumbering them by as much as 10 to 1 for several months. The lava beds made an outstanding stronghold for the Modocs because of the rough terrain, rocks that could be used in fortification, and irregular pathways to evade pursuers.
The fourth picture shows Mt. Shasta from 50 miles away. It is quite impressive, even from this distance. We took the picture from Petroglyph Point which preserves one of the largest panels of Native American rock art in the United States. The petroglyphs were carved by the Modoc people along the face of a former island of ancient Tule Lake and are estimated to be between 2,000 and 6,000 years old. There were also a gagillion cliff swallows that nest in the cliffs above the petroglyphs.
We had to limit the pictures or we would have put in two of the lizard (a before and after- we chose the after). Don took multiple pictures of it and the longer he stood there, the more the lizard tried to scare him away. He was doing push ups to make him look bigger and he puffed up his throat and stomach. He actually looked more than twice his size in this position.
The highlight of the day was our brave spelunking adventure. We explored the lava flow caves on our own. This is the first time we have been in a cave with no lights, no other people and no guide. The lava flows that formed the caves are between 30,000 and 40,000 years old. As the hot basaltic lava flowed downhill, the top cooled and crusted over, insulating the rest of the lava and forming lava tubes. Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tube caves is North America.
We started with Skull Cave (named after the two skeletons that were found there – what were we thinking?). The next two pictures show the entrance from the outside (if you look hard, you can see Leslie). The next picture shows the cave from the inside when you first go in. The cave had multiple layers and got smaller as we went along and down – and pitch black dark. We could only see as far as our lights shone. The next picture of Don was quite a feat. It was taken at the bottom of the cave and it was so dark that Leslie could not see what she was taking a picture of (the flash did an excellent job). Leslie had the bright idea of turning off our flashlights when we were in the darkest part so we could experience the pitch black darkness. We decided people that originally explore something that dark are a little bit crazy. The next picture shows the entrance of Balcony Cave which is another cave that we bravely explored. The last picture is the ceiling of that cave. Now, before you get too impressed, these caves have been developed (meaning there are paths in them) so we were not like big explorers, but Leslie was still proud of herself for being so adventurous.