Lava Beds Photos

These are all pictures that we've taken on various trips to The Beds. Many of us have visited every summer for the past 6 or 7 years in a row. That, at the very least, should indicate what a great place this is. (Or what big dorks we all are... :-)

I apologize in advance for the quality of these scans, but I kinda need to conserve disk space here, and the overall quality of the scanner is questionable...

The pictures:

Mus and Sam relaxing on a large balcony along the Labyrinth Loop (40K)
This is in a small cave somewhere along the Labyrinth Loop. Although the scan may not show it, the walls of this sunlit cave are quite colorful.

Mus and Tom heading out of the large Bearpaw Cave (19K)
Bearpaw Cave is a continuation of Merril Ice Cave. It is actually two tubes; the upper has collapsed upon the lower leaving a very large room in between. Look for Mus's helmet reflecting light a little below and to the left of the entrance.

Tom is quite strong, supporting this outdoor natural bridge (50K)
Natural bridges are quite common around the park. As lava tubes cool, they collapse in sections leaving these bridges behind. If you carefully examine the cover of the "Lava Beds Caves" booklet, you can see another bridge just (in Skull Ice Cave)

A collapse at the base of Schonchin Butte (52K)
As you hike up Schonchin Butte trail, keep a lookout for this collapse that appears to your left. Though we've never been to this one, collapses similar to this are common along Three Sisters Trail and you can sometimes feel cool air blowning out between the rocks.

Looking up toward Mammoth Crater from Schonchin (18K)
This is a view of the southern part of the park looking up toward Mammoth Crater. Not all of the park is so nicely blanketed with evergreens...

A more barren cinder cone (16K)
Again, from the top of Schonchin Butte, this is one of the cinder cones that is not so well covered with trees. This view is to the southeast.

A beautiful sunrise (15K)
Those of us who are not so much like me might opt for the early morning hike up Schonchin to be rewarded with views like these. This view is looking out to the east, toward Petroglyph Cliff.

A rounded mountain on top of Gillem's Bluff (26K)
This is looking north-northwest from the top of Schonchin. As you can see, the sky can be rather overcast even in the middle of summer.

A very distant Petroglyph Cliff (23K)
This is looking east from Schonchin. The smaller mountain to the right is Petroglyph Cliff (which is actually a lot bigger than it looks from here :-) The Top Secret back-road that leads to Newell goes between the cliff and the larger mountain.

Some icy rocks
In February, you might find a layer of frost and ice on some of the more shaded rocks. We were hoping to see the snow, but we were out of luck this time.

An ice pillar which formed in Skull Ice Cave (28K)
There have only been ice formations such as these in Skull Ice Cave a few times since I've started going to the park. Unfortunately, some uncaring bastards got there first and smashed away at the base of the formation with stones. Even seconds before I took this picture, someone managed to break an ice tendril off the pillar after having a good bare-handed feel.

Sorry about that interruption. It just pains me to see selfish people destroying something so beautiful. Anyway, Skull Cave was named because of the skeletons of sheep and humans found there early in the century.

James crawling on his back through a narrow passage (24K)
I'm not entirely sure, but I think this is in the Labyrinth Cave. Note James' notorious "Caving Coat" which he once actually had to take off to get out of a particularly tight spot. In this particular case, James has his helmet off since the passage is too narrow to navigate with it on his noodle. Also notice the fine skull-smashing lavacles hanging from the ceiling.

A small dead-end room we called "The Turtle" (33K)
This is in the Lava Brook Cave, up beyond the so-called "lava brook". The entrance to this room was very very small, and I nearly couldn't make it. I'd better lay off the burgers. Anyway, I was rewarded with a view into this room that is nearly a full two feet high! Notice how the liquid lava has sloshed up against the walls.

Mus looking into the distance at Captain Jack's Stronghold (46k)
Captain Jack's Stronghold is a natural lava fortress where a small handful of Modoc Indians managed to hold off a very large group of US Army soldiers for several months after the army had driven them from their land. There are trails that will allow you around the fortress.

A defensive trench at Captain Jack's Stronghold (35K)
Again, at Captain Jack's. This is one of the many natural trenches from which Modoc snipers were able attack army troops sent into the fortress. Army officers would complain of men being killed and wounded without ever seeing a single Indian.

Remember, don't wear nice clothes when caving... :-) (27K)
This used to be a complete shirt before we did the Catacombs loop. 'Nuff said. :-) (Also, don't try to zoom in on that low quality film...ewww!)

Looking up from the bottom of the pit in the Boxing Glove Chamber (63K)
This is in The Catacombs looking up into The Boxing Glove Chamber. The Catacombs is filled with twisty passages and multiple levels that make the cave a lot of fun to explore.

Sam entering the first narrow section of The Crossover (34K)
The Catacombs has two parallel tubes that are connected by a very small room (passage?) called The Crossover. This has very small entrances (less than a foot, I'd bet) that are not for the claustrophobic. This was definitely a "helmets off" crawl.

Rebecca crawling through the first narrow section of The Crossover (24k)
This is from the inside of The Crossover, looking toward the entrance. We spent a lot of time going through here, so it's only natural that I'd take a lot of pictures. :-)

Me heading up into the second narrow section of The Crossover (18K)
Here I am on my way out of The Crossover. The entrance is rather smooth in comparison to this. Additionally, the exit of the chamber curves up and over a hump before finally dumping you out into the second parallel Catacombs branch.

Rebecca crawling through the second narrow section of The Crossover (28K)
This is Rebecca coming up to meet me on the way out of The Crossover. I was trying to turn around in this really narrow passage so that I could take the downhill part feet-first.

Tom coming out of the second narrow part of The Crossover (27K)
You really can't tell from the picture, but Tom is going headfirst downhill at about a 45 degree angle here. It's head-rush time for sure.

Everyone resting on chocolate walls in the Catacombs (45K)
Now that we had The Crossover out of the way, it was time for a little R&R. Note the walls here are covered with black mineral deposits known as "chocolate". In fact, there is a cave full of the stuff called "Hopkin's Chocolate Cave".

Me, learning to accept the aa floor (30K)
This is the last leg of our Catacombs journey. The floor is made of a type of lava called "aa". Though the stones in the floor look loose, I can personally assure you that they are permanently affixed to the rock below.

Some small, easy to reach ice formations (28K)
Yes, they're there. Right above my head. This picture was taken in early February in Paradise Alleys.

Our favorite camping food (33K)
Ok, it's not very good for us, but we really love it. And when we're in the darkest depths of the caves feeling down because we're hungry and we have to go to the bathroom really badly, we can always chant about the virtues of bacon to raise our spirits.

Copyright © 1994-2004 Brian "Beej" Hall <>