The walk around the broken up lava at the base of the cinder cone followed by the drive to the top was the first course of business. It was like a moonscape but the drive to the top of the cinder cone would be the icing on the cake. What a view! Well worth the wait and trip as they only allow ten cars at a time at 45 minute intervals to go to the top. Next stop, one of the water falls only to find out it was at least a 3/4 mile walk so we passed on that one and headed to the lava tube. The tube was huge, about a mile long and the sign said the last 300 yards had to be crawled. They rented Coleman propane lanterns at the concession stand but I decided to take my flashlight for a quick look. The tube was huge and 42 degrees. As you walked thru the opening, you could see your breath. There were stairs that went up and down and I looked at the ceiling sometimes 40 or more feet above me. As the opening with the light got a little smaller it was time to get out of Dodge and the warmth and safety of the outdoors.
The next stop at Newberry was the obsidian flow. Obsidian is typically black volcanic glass, the stuff Indians used to make arrowheads and knives out of. Russ and Ziggy started up the trail but Zig decided he didn't like it much and the sign said that they didn't recommend dogs on the trail due to the sharp rocks. I told Russ it must be 200 stairs to the very top, he told me the sign said 400. I kept walking and lost count after 75 stairs. There were black, shiny obsidian boulders everywhere and the flow looked to be about 100 feet high or higher. While I expected a smooth black river of lava, it was a flow of big broken rocks, some of it obsidian and some a light tan or light gray pumice. At the next level there were some people coming down from the top and I asked if it was worth the walk up, they said it looked just the same as it did here only bigger. Good enough for me, back down the stairs so we could head to Crater Lake.
The road to Crater Lake climbed over 7600 feet. There was snow everywhere, we had to walk thru some snow to get to the 1st overlook and what a view. The picture in front of us was nothing less than overwhelming. It was quite clear that this was a crater and a big one. The water, 700 feet below was blue and off to the right was a big island. Russ was ready for his swim in the lake below so we drove to the trailhead where he transferred Ziggys car seat to the ZJ and headed down the trail to the lake with his ham radio, a towel and some bottled water. Russ would check in with me about every 15 minutes and me and Ziggy would travel the 33 miles around the rim.
The road around the rim was a treat. Around every curve was another vantage point to take pictures. At one there were huge boulders of red striped obsidian at at another there were a couple of boats in the water (they had to airlift them). Around the back side of the crater, melting snow created cascading waterfalls. One of the roads to an overlook was completely closed by snow at least 8 feet high, I took a picture of the ZJ against it and was amazed that that much snow could exist going into August. Russ kept checking in on the radio and said he was ready for his swim. I kept driving the rim and seeing more picture opportunities. The next call from Russ said the swim was very refreshing and he was on his way back up the trail and should be back at his Jeep in about 45 minutes and then a short 20 minute drive to meet me at the Rim Village.
The Rim village had closed at 8pm so we changed the meeting place to the south entrance but before I got there it appeared. A big gift shop and restaurant that was still open! We got our souvenirs and decided to check out the buffet dinner as it was a long time from lunch at at least an hour to our stop for the night, Klamath Falls, OR.
Tomorrow the plan is to visit Lava Beds National Monument, Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Monument then start the couple day drive home.
Along the way
|8 foot drift still blocks the road to an overlook|