Day 473: Lava Beds National Monument

Shabbos in our dispersed camping location near Tulelake, CA was nice and quiet, but also quite cold.  We woke up on Sunday to mid-20s and a bit of snow on the ground.  This would have been a perfect PPG site if it wasn’t so cold and we weren’t on a schedule today.  I was able to pull 1.5 Mbps WiFi from the Lava Beds National Monument visitor center, 10.1 miles away!  Gotta love our homemade WiFi antenna:

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We drove the mile or so from our camping location to the Petroglyph Point unit of Lava Beds National Monument.  Petroglyph Point is the largest rock art site in California.  This small mesa was at times an island in Tule Lake, and Native Americans would paddle out in canoes and carve symbols into the rock.  These carvings are thought to be 4,500 to 2,500 years old.  Unfortunately, it has been savaged by modern graffiti:

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While driving to the visitor center, Trish read an article about the history of the Modoc War, which occurred in the Monument in the late 1800s.  We finally reached the visitor center, where the kids worked on their Junior Ranger badges and received their badges:

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Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tubes in North America, with several hundred caves having been discovered so far.  Trish and I had explored a number of the caves here back in 1999, so we decided to take the kids to the largest and most challenging cave in the park, Catacombs Cave, with over 8000 feet of passageways.  We hiked to the entrance, where lava blocks were lightly dusted with snow:

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Down we go:

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The cave starts out with reasonable clearance:

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There were a number of spots where the passageway was less than 2 feet high, which required crawling:

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The caves here are a network of tubes laid down in successive lava flows, with ceiling collapses that allow entry to tubes under one another.  Here we drop down a ledge, walk across a second tube in the next level down, and back up the other side to a third tube:

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After we had had our fill or crawling over rough lava, we made our way out:

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We traversed the area in red.  At the end of the cave (on the right side of the diagram), there’s a passageway that leads to the other tube network, but the connecting tube was less than 12 inches floor to ceiling, and we couldn’t tell how long we would have to go on like that, so we turned around.  We probably explored about 4000 feet of passageways, which took us a couple hours.  Numbers on the diagram detail floor-to-ceiling height.  Click on the map to view it full-size:

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Trish and B had had enough of caving, so we decided to head out.  I noticed that one of the tires needed replacing, so we quickly swapped in the spare in the parking lot.  The kids helped drop down the spare and stow the worn out tire:

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Meanwhile, I jacked up the axle and swapped the wheels.  With a dual-axle RV, it makes life easier to drive up onto something so the wheel to be replaced doesn’t need to be raised up much to be removed:

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The kids make an excellent pit crew:

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After completing the swap and taking on water, we drove south to overnight at the Walmart of Susanville, CA.  See the trip map for driving details and our current location.

Day 471: Over the mountains to California
RV Trips from the Late ‘90s Added to LookBeforeYouLive

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