Heading South

After driving across northern California and camping out in LavaBeds National Park, I awoke with the dawn to do some exploring. Lava Beds has many interesting features, but is really all about the lava tube caves. After taking a few dawn shots from the campsite I headed out to do a short hike to some caves with petroglyphs in them. I pretty much had the entire park to myself so it was nice and quiet as I hiked in. The caves are both located at the end of collapsed lava tubes, and are both fairly shallow. It was interesting to try to interpret the pictures on the rock and imagine what they were doing down in the caves in the first place.

After this I hiked up the highest hill in the region and looked around from the fire ranger’s hut on top of it. It had a great view of Mt Shasta, and I really am going to have to make a trip up to summit Shasta sometime. Its an incredible looking mountain.  A trip down an “ice cave” from which all the ice has vanished due to dry weather and global warming, then another cave and I was set to head down to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I found a few of the roads I needed to take were closed, and had to detour through some very rough backroads, but eventually I found the way. Diving through the park and reading the literature on it was interesting. Basically the park is located where a much larger volcano exploded sometime in the past. The recent eruption, which prompted the creation of the park, was in 1915, and you drive right through the devastated zone, which is healing up nicely. I took a hike to see a waterfall, checked out some volcanic features and then headed out to drive down to Mono Lake.

After a long drive south I reached Lee Vining, hoping to find a hotel room so I could charge my computer and cameras, but I was shut out as all the hotels were full. Instead I crashed out in my car, and waited for dawn to take pictures of the tufas in Mono Lake. I didn’t think about it being Saturday, but since it was dawn at the tufas was a complete zoo, with probably 50 odd photographers jostling elbows to get shots of the not so exciting dawn. I jostled along with the best of them, and outlasted the hordes to get some nice morning pictures then headed up to the mobil Station restaurant at the foot of the Tioga Pass for breakfast. I then headed up to Tuolomne and hiked to Mono Pass, which was wonderful with fall colours showing up everywhere. I decided that since it was starting to rain I would head home instead of staying out for another day, and got on the road back to LA, watching the clouds stack up against the mountains in every direction. I drove in and out of rain until I came to the Alabama hills, where there was some pretty spectacular stuff happening around Whitney. I headed into the hills, but by the time I got somewhere worth taking pictures of the show was over. I drove along movie road, stopping to take pictures of anything that looked interesting and then headed on South. On the way there was a particularly spectacular sunset, but since I was driving I was unable to take any pictures of it.

and here are the results of my last 2 days ont he road.

Lava Beds, Lassen, Mono, Tuolomne and the Alabama hills

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