Geoff and Jenn's 1998 California Trip
Day 8: Mt. Shasta and The Lava Beds NP
Saturday, October 3rd, 1998
We awoke to our caboose night stay and headed out towards Mt. Shasta, after a brief stop in town at a local bakery that unfortunately was closing down that very day.
|We headed up the slopes of the grand mountain, suprised to see that the volcano actually consisted of two distinct volcanic craters. We reached as far as the road would go at Panther's Meadows, under the guide of a William Sullivan hike book (our copies are greatly used).|
|At Panther's meadows we saw quite a large number of unknown wildflowers that did not ring a bell with our common ones from farther north. There was a fragrant mint just in bloom, pussy feet, xxx, and a variety of other more common flowers such as purple aster, alpine heather and paintbrush. The meadows were extremely fragile, but I still was able to get off quite a large number of shots.|
|The meadow was fed by a beautiful stream that originated with a mountain spring rising from the ground. Along the trail were numerous peculiar unnatural positionings of rocks and branches that appeared almost religious at times in their intracy. We speculated that it must be some mythical beast that still roams the hills of Mt. Shasta.|
|After our alpine hike, we headed back down into town for a quick Burger King bite before heading out to our next stop: Caving at Lava Beds National Park. Along the way, we passed by two large water refuges whose lakes were filled with ducks, pelicans and an assortment of other fowl and birds. We quickly determined that today was also the first day of duck hunting season, as evidenced by the droves of hunters. Every few seconds it seemed we would pass a large F150 or Suburban truck (usually white) that was stuffed with nets of bird decoys and a friendly looking dog, while being driven by three guys dressed in camoflage. We had a good laugh at a local RV park in the middle of nowhere that was stuffed pack full of hunters' trucks. Even the few motels we passed all had no vacancy and their parking lots were filled with trucks|
Eventually we made it to Lava Beds NP where we immediately began our caving. The caves here are numerous and quite varied -- giving us sights significantly different from the caves in middle Oregon and Mt. St. Helens' Ape Cave. Along the way we stopped at Golden Dome cave (with a steep drop into the cave and an interesting pillar near its conclusion), Hopkins Chocolate cave (with its chocolaty sides and a historic graffiti carving from 1892), and Sunshine cave(where there are a number of fall throughts, including some open aired ones before the entrance). Outside of the main loop we stopped at two more caves: Valentine cave, with its characteristic side groves and a number of reconnecting side channels, and then, as dusk was settling in, I made a quick trek down into Skull cave, a gigantic cave of huge proportions that had solid ice at its bottom.
From Lava Beds, we then headed back towards Klamath Falls to make our final night's stay. The trick was to avoid the endless number of birds darting around as dusk fell into the landscape, and then to find a motel that was not filled to capacity with the migrating hunters.
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