Friday, October 21, 2011
What do the Lava Lands, Hole in the Ground, and Ft Rock all have in common?
We were there! Besides the Newberry Caldera and Paulina Peak these great place names were also on our must see list for last summer’s trek to Central Oregon. Don’t ask about Crack in the Ground though…we had to turn around when the road became too rough for our little car. Within the Lava Lands is Lava Butte, “a 500-foot-high cinder cone south of Bend along Highway 97. A road spirals to the top providing a grand vista of volcanic country. Here, gas-charged molten rock sprayed volcanic foam (cinders) into the air. These fell back into a pile to form Lava Butte. As the eruption proceeded, the amount of gas (mostly water vapor) contained in the molten rock decreased and lava poured out the south side of Lava Butte and flowed 6 miles downhill. The lava spilled into the nearby Deschutes River forming lava dams in some places and shoving the river westward out of its channel in others.” (Excerpt from: U.S. Forest Service Deschutes National Forest Website). One of the educational signs noted that this area was used from 1964-66 for the testing of men and equipment bound for the moon. It was austere and beautiful. And of course there was more Manzanita for me to admire. But all I did was admire… Off to Hole in the Ground. Which really is a big hole in the ground! More impressive in person, or I imagine from the sky. That’s Andrew about to descend to the bottom of the hole. I stayed behind, the ground was quite uneven with lots of loose material, and frankly I’m a klutz. I had no desire to ruin our weekend with a sprained ankle, or worse. Besides that gave me a chance to explore the plants! I believe this one is Purshia tridentate, or Bitterbrush… Meanwhile Andrew reached the bottom, can you see that little spec on the trail? That’s him! More importantly he made it back to the top. Next up is Ft Rock, in Christmas Valley. It’s a spectacular volcanic formation (actually called a tuff ring) that rises out of the valley floor. And here’s an interesting fact…see those sandals in the center of the sign? Just what might be the world’s oldest shoes! Dozens of these sagebrush bark sandals were found in a cave, at Ft Rock, below a layer of volcanic ash that was determined to have come from the eruption of the Mt. Mazama volcano (now Crater Lake) 7,500 years ago! Cool huh? This concludes our summer visit to Central Oregon, but since we didn’t make it to Crack in the Ground we’ll no doubt be back out in this beautiful landscape again sometime soon!
Labels: exploring Oregon