Central Oregon (August 21-24, 2007)
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
What is a national monument, you might ask? Well, Wikipedia explains that it's similar to a national park except that it receives less funding, offers less protection to wildlife and that the President can create one quickly, without congressional approval.
Our first stop within the monument was Lava Butte, one of the more prominent of the 400-odd cinder cones in the area, and which we had seen from Pilot Butte in Bend last night. Steve was amazed and enchanted by the large number of what we later learned were ground squirrels among the lava rocks and ponderosa pines, and also the smaller and more pointy-faced chipmunks.
The squirrels were tamer and much more common. We saw squirrels at nearly all the tourist places we visited, and also they would run across the road at random, necessitating a screech of brakes, as Steve did not want to run over the critters!
The tamest squirrels were at the top of Lava Butte. Here, they would walk onto your hands in order to take food.
Lava Butte itself was a fascinating place. The north side contained more vegetation because of snow in winter. The south side was mainly cinders and volcanic rubble.
Lava had flowed out of the south side of the crater to the west and north.
Looking to the west, one could see Mt Bachelor and Broken Top.
Walking on the lava flow would have been impossible, but for the asphalt trail which had been built on a small section of it.
Next stop was the Newberry caldera. We drove up Paulina Peak to take that fantastic photo you see on every webpage about the area. To the left is Paulina Lake, and to the right is East Lake. These crater lakes used to be joined together till a lava flow separated them. The Big Obsidian Flow dominates the view on the right.
The Big Obsidian Flow ends abruptly, just as a lava flow does.
Obsidian is easier to walk on than lava. A trail made it even easier.
We saw black obsidian and also the less common brown obsidian.
Steve was disappointed that no obsidian could be taken from the park.
While it was still light, we visited the Lava Cast Forest. This lava flow was much easier to walk on than that at Lava Butte.
A few of the ponderosa pine trees bordering the lava flow were quite old and large.
We saw moulds of trees made of lava. Those on the trail had been mostly filled in, but when we ventured off the trail, we found some quite deep casts.
Some casts were of fallen trees.