2017 Travel Map

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tulelake, Lave Beds, Caves and the Modoc War

May 22 - 24, 2016:


We have had a string of erratic weather the past few days with alternating periods of sun and rain.  It continued today on our ride from Shastina Lake to Tionesta, California.  We took route 97 north through the small towns of Macdoel and Doris and the Butte Valley National Grassland.  I found reason to stop at each of them.  We then took route 161 east, which runs right on the Oregon border across the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.  At the town of Tulelake, another diversion for me, we continued south through the Tulelake National Wildlife Refuge to Tionesta where the Hawk’s Nest RV Park is located.  There were so many birds, duck, hawks, all manner of waterfowl along this route, it was quite an amazing ride.



A dreamy Lower Klamath Lake view driving across the wildlife refuge



My perception of Graffiti also


Stay solid brother, burn wood and have fun


The southern end of the Lava Beds National Monument is mostly lava tube caves.  There are approximately 20 caves of varying difficulty that you can go into.  These lava caves don’t have the spectacular limestone stalagmite and stalactite formations, but are interesting in their own way.  Twinkles is not keen on going into caves of any kind so she passed on this adventure.  Actually, I’m not so comfortable in them either and don’t quite get the attraction with caving.  I’m not a big fan of cold, damp, dark and dangerous places.  That didn’t stop me from going into a few of the easier caves, but no crawling for me these days !



A cave entrance, there are around 800 of them here,
which are old lava tubes running underground



Lots of large loose appearing rocks around these
caves make me nervous



Going down stairs into the darkness, flashlight don't fail me now !



Across bridges over deep, dark pits


Trying not to fall into the black holes


The rocks are beautiful


Cave sides were once hot dripping molten rock


I also did a hike amidst threatening rain clouds to the “Black Butte” cinder cone area and the “Thomas-Wright Battlefield.  Another sad chapter in American History involves the Modoc tribe that lived in the Tulelake and Lava country for thousands of years until the american settlers arrived. They were shortly removed from their ancestral land and sent to southern Oregon to a Klamath indian reservation.  This didn’t work out well, a band of the Modoc’s returned to their land, the US Army was called in and fighting broke out which became known as “The Modoc War”.  Eventually the Modoc’s were defeated, rounded up, their leader, Captain Jack was hanged and the tribe partially relocated to Oklahoma.



Beautiful flowers along the trail


Spectacular colors


A very colorful Lava vent at the Black Butte area


Remains of a volcanic vent


Our original plan was to move into the Lava Beds Monument campground for another day, but the campsites are really small and the other attractions we want to see are all on the northern end of the monument.  As result, we are moving 25 miles to the county fairgrounds in Tulelake.  We can also see more of the Wildlife refuge from there. 

The Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds in Tulelake, California were way nicer than expected and we have the place all to ourselves.  We are parked on lush green grass, don’t think we ever had that before, with full hookups for $18.  The downside is downtown Tulelake, mostly vacant old buildings although a couple are photogenic.  We looked for a gas station in Tulelake, there is none, only one old pump at a small store.  You have to drive north 8 miles into Oregon for a gas station, going south the road sign says no services for 70 next miles.  Tulelake is a large potato growing area, lots of Potato Harvesters and storage barns around town.



Most interesting abandoned Hotel building in Tulelake


Loved the artwork


Actually feel it says something about our country


Many grain elevators and potato storage cellars here



The level, green, irrigated fields seem almost endless



Our spacious campsite at the fairgrounds


We went into the northern entrance of Lava Beds National Monument and stopped at the “Petroglyph Point” area.  Tule Lake prior to the 1900’s practically covered the entire Klamath-Tulelake Basin.  In those days the native Modoc Indians traveled the lake in boats made from Tule reeds.  The present huge volcanic rock face was then an island in the lake.  The Modoc would come to the island and scrape designs and figures into the soft rock. They are thought to be of various ages but some may be as old as 6,000 years.



The fence is there to keep the idiots from defacing the history



There are thousands of birds living in this massive rock wall which used to be an
island in Tule Lake.  The ancient indians rowed their reed canoes here and carved
stuff in the rocks




No one knows what it all means ?


Most likely it means nothing


In the early 1900’s the US government started a reclamation project to build canals to drain Tule Lake.  The drained land was then cleared and converted into farm land.  The drained water in the canal system would be used for irragation and a lottery was established to provide this farm land to homesteaders.  The result was a much smaller lake, 1/6th of the original size, with a much reduced habitat for wildlife, but with much new farmland.  In order to offset the impact on wildlife habitat, a number of wildlife refuges were eventually established.




On the shore of the Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge



I did my part by stopping in time to save this
snake sunning in the middle of the road


There must be a trillion Red Winged Blackbirds here


Also Canada Geese and unusual White Pelicans


We continued into The National Monument to “Captain Jack’s Stronghold” and took the 2 mile loop hike.  Captain Jack and his tribe hid and fought the US troops from this very defensible position.  The area is riddled with lava tubes, boulders, caves and really good hiding places.  The US Army was really at a disadvantage here and it took them 5 months with a force 10-20 times greater that the Modoc’s to finally defeat them.  The trail was beautiful, can’t imagine a better trail through a Volcanic area except maybe a live flow in Hawaii ?



This wall was built by the US soldiers for protection


The Modoc's knew their way in here, knew all the good
defensive positions, attack positions and hiding places


A good observation spot with a Modoc shrine


Twinkles wanted to get in some sewing before we head back into the boondocks and I must leave for her to sew.  I could only find one bar open in Tulelake, Mike and Wanda’s Restaurant and Bar,  which looked like a real dive from the outside.  Surprisingly, kind of a nice decorating job inside and the shell casings lacquered into the bar top added a nice touch.  There were two locals in there having an interesting conversation, something about building a “Derby car” as in demolition derby and watching a classic movie on the TV.  They all seemed like friendly types and it was a good hour out on the town.

OK, enough of this Volcanic legacy tour stuff, now back into the forest.


Next stop is Chiloquin, Oregon. where we will hunker down for the Memorial Day weekend,
Twinkles and Slick 

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