Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lava Beds National Monument

We spent a few nights boondocking up in the National Forest by Upper Klamath Lake, all alone. We were running pretty low on food, Internet, and water, so we headed into Klamath Falls early in the morning after two nights of solitude. We had seen “Lava Beds National Monument” on the map, and we though we'd head that way, because it sounded cool. When we looked it up in town, we discovered that there are a bunch of lava tube caves that you can climb around in, too!

The drive down was very pretty – we took the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which was very cool. Even though it was Memorial Day weekend, we managed to find a spot at the campground, which was great, because it was really close to everything. We unpacked, and rode our bikes up to the visitor center up the hill. It was getting close to dinner time, but my dad and I decided to explore a cave that we had seen on the bike ride up, Indian Well Cave.

We each grabbed one of the little flashlights we have lying around the trailer, but when we got back up to the cave, we realized that the cave was really dark! So, we ran back and grabbed headlamps, which were brighter, and freed up both hands.

The cave was pretty big inside, and there were plenty of fallen rocks to scramble over, which was fun. We went all the way to the end of the cave, and found a little spot where we could squeeze out to the surface, and we walked back from there. It was really cool, and I was excited to go do some more caves tomorrow!

The next day, we drove the truck up back to the top of the park, and did a guided ranger walk around Captain Jack's Stronghold, a bunch of rock formations where some Native Americans fought the US Army in the 1870s. We drove around a little more, and then went back to the visitors center for another ranger program, a tour of Hercules Leg Cave, which is on a little loop road behind the visitors center with a bunch of marked caves. That was fun, and at the end of the cave, there was a spot where you could crawl into another cave, called Juniper. My dad and I crawled in there, and explored back in a little ways, until we came to a spot where we could climb up and walk back to where we parked.

The day after, we got up really early and hiked up Sconchin Butte, where the CCC built a fire lookout post. The view up there was really cool! After that, we did a bunch of nearby caves, then headed back to the visitors center and did some more of the Cave Loop caves, which was fun.

We were all pretty tired the next day, but we managed to get out and do a few more caves in the morning, and then hung around the house for the afternoon. All in all, we stayed 4 nights at Lava Beds, it was definitely one of my favorite spots on this trip.

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What do you think, where should we go next?