Day 5 of our Sunriver, Oregon trip felt much more photographically satisfying than the previous day at Crater Lake. For one, I was very aware of my camera's battery charge and wasn't going to let it die again! Yes, I know I need to buy a spare battery, but I still stubbornly haven't.
Our first adventure this day was to the nearby Lava River Cave. It's part of the Newberry Volcanic Monument and is run as a tourist attraction by the U.S. Forest Service. The cave formed from a lava river nearly 80,000 years ago, with the roof formed by the exposed lava that cooled and left a tube. The floor is made up of sand that came from the eruption of Mount Mazama (see previous entry) and travelled into the cave from drips of water from the ceiling. At certain parts of the cave you can even see stalagmites and stalactites.
The tourist part of the cave is about a mile long. You walk down the steps shown in the first photo below and keep walking on a metal scaffold the first few hundred feet - then you actually end up on the cave floor once you've passed the initial rock piles. The reason they don't let you go past a mile is because bats live in the cave and they don't want humans to harm the bats with disease or noise. At certain points you also have to crouch down to get through the cave, so it's not for the casual walker.
One important point I need to advise is that it's*cold* in the cave. Most times of year it's around 42 degrees. Be prepared with layers. I got to the end of the cave and suddenly realized...oh crap...I gotta pee! It's so cold that your body has the same reaction it does to all cold...increase blood plasma density. So my trip out of the cave was A LOT faster than the trip in! There were a few times when I had the thought, it's a dark cave - turn off your flashlight - who's going to know? But I was a good hiker and made is back to the restrooms (barely) - which is a truly challenging task with so...many...stairs. So heed this advice, "go" before you go in.
Our next stop was the much, much warmer Fort Rock in central Oregon. The "fort" was formed 10,000-12,000 years ago as a volcanic eruption in the middle of a 900 square mile ice age lake. The resulting magma shot up and formed a cone around the eruption. Since that time, one side of the cone has eroded away from primarily southwest winds, leaving a semi-circle. Fort Rock is one of 40 such formations in the area, but it's the most well known. Today you can hike (very short) into the fort or up onto a cliff to get a good view.
Archaeologists have found sandals buried by dust from the eruption of Mount Mazama at nearby caves overlooking the (former) lake dating back nearly 10,000 years ago. This was some of the first evidence of humans in Central Oregon, and at the time the first evidence of humans in north America. In the 1960's Reuben and Norma Long donated the area around Fort Rock to Oregon and it eventually became a Oregon State Park. Also note that Cycle Oregon contributed funding to make that happen.
Across the street from Fort Rock there's a museum of preserved buildings, which offer great photographic opportunities. Unfortunately the museum was closed the day we visited, but I was still able to grab pictures from outside their fence. I mostly stuck to film photography for this part of the trip since it seemed like a good way to add an "older" aesthetic to an old place, and for the most part I'm pretty happy with the results.
On our way home we made a detour to Paulina Peak, which is a nearly 8,000ft peak along the Crater on the Newberry Volcano. The peak was named after Chief Paulina, a Paiute native American leader best known for guerilla attacks on encroaching settlers. The view of Newberry Crater is north of the peak. From there you can see Paulina Lake on the left and East Lake (obviously) on the right. I like the way TripAdvisor.com labelled the last few miles of travel up the gravel road to the peak...“Paulina Peak Overlook view is worth the white-knuckle drive.” My poor height fearing mom was driving (slowly) as typical Pacific Northwestern Subaru Outback adventurer-ers were zooming past us up the hill. Of course I was thinking, "this would made an awesome place for a rally car race!" Somehow I didn't inherit my mom's sensibilities for risk.
When we made is home we settled down to a nice warm bowl of hearty bean soup. My mom needed to rest after that drive.