May 31: Deep blue lakes and into California

I woke up this morning to the distinct feeling of being watched. It was extremely disconcerting, but when I looked out my back window it was to see a deer, about ten feet away, staring straight at me. As soon as I moved she bounded off, but that was pretty cool.

Merlin and I survived the most washboardy dirt road on the planet <tm> back to the main highway without jarring anything loose, and headed south to Crater Lake. The closer I got to the lake the more snow there was, until by the time I reached the rim, the snowdrifts were considerably taller than my van.

My first view of Crater Lake on this trip.
My first view of Crater Lake on this trip.
Merlin next to a snowbank.
Merlin next to a snowbank.
The classic view of the lake from the Rim Village.  Note how un-snowy the south side of Wizard Island is compared to the north side in the first photo.
The classic view of the lake from the Rim Village. Note how un-snowy the south side of Wizard Island is compared to the north side in the first photo.  And isn’t the reflection nifty?  The lake was extremely calm.
A Clark's Nutcracker.  They are everywhere around the rim of the lake.  This one was in the top of a dead snag, about thirty feet away.
A Clark’s Nutcracker. They are everywhere around the rim of the lake. This one was in the top of a dead snag, about thirty feet away.

I’ve never seen Crater Lake with snow before. I’d been there at least once as a kid with my parents (the Mazama campground is where my dad once chased a bear away, which story gets trotted out regularly in my family), and with my first husband, and this was the third time since I moved to Tacoma 23 years ago. But still, first time with snow, which was amazingly beautiful. Most of the roads and all of the trails were closed because of it, though, so, really, after taking lots of photos and sitting for a while on Crater Lake Lodge’s patio overlooking the lake, and hearing the weirdest sound, which I thought was a wild animal but turned out to be a baby (I’ve never heard a baby make a noise like that before), there wasn’t much else to do but go on.

Down down down to lunch in Klamath Falls, and some necessary phone calls now that the holiday weekend is finally over (there’s not a lot of cell phone signal in this part of the world), and then across my second state line of the trip to the town of Tulelake, California, the site of the largest Japanese internment camp during WWII. There’s a small national park service exhibit (and a bored to death park ranger) at the fairgrounds in town, but that’s pretty much it. Oh, and Tulelake High School is the home of the Honkers <g>. The Pacific Flyway goes directly over Tulelake, and there’s a huge lake and wildlife refuge nearby, but still.

Tulelake High School.
Tulelake High School.

And on to where I am tonight, which is Lava Beds National Monument, home of the largest concentration of lava tube caves in North America, and the last stand of the Modoc Indians, back about three years before the Nez Perce tried to flee to Canada. I hiked a trail around Captain Jack’s Stronghold (Captain Jack was what the whites called one of the Modoc chiefs), where the tribe held off a U.S. Army force ten times their number for months before they finally had to surrender.

Count it as another odd place to find wildflowers, too.

Part of the trail through Captain Jack's Stronghold, Lava Beds National Monument.
Part of the trail through Captain Jack’s Stronghold, Lava Beds National Monument.
One of several wildflowers I saw along the Stronghold trail.  This one is called Phacelia linearis.
One of several wildflowers I saw along the Stronghold trail. This one is called Phacelia linearis, and yes, it’s really that blue.  
This is called The Devil's Homestead.  It's what I thought most of the National Monument would look like, but that was not the case.
This is called The Devil’s Homestead. It’s what I thought most of the National Monument would look like, but that was not the case.
Desert buckwheat near the visitor center.
Desert buckwheat near the visitor center.

I did go down a little ways into one of the caves, but they’re not lit, and a lantern was not enough light for me to go far down there alone. I’m hoping there’ll be a ranger-guided walk through one tomorrow before I head on south. We’ll see.