Exploring Volcanic California

Yesterday morning, we left Lake Tahoe and drove north on Route 89, undulating across the east flank of the Sierra Nevada; initially, all streams (including the scenic Little Truckee River) rumbled eastward, flowing into the Great Basin.  Then, about an hour into our journey, we crossed a fork of the Feather River; its flow was to the west, indicating that we had reached the gap between the Sierra Nevada Range and the Cascades.  After lunch in Quincy, California, we climbed along Indian Creek and then Wolf Creek, eventually reaching Lake Almanor, east of Lassen Peak.

Though we had planned to hike at Lassen National Park, we soon learned that the Park road was closed due to a heavy snowpack.  We thus visited McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, off Route 89; there we enjoyed the scenic falls and hiked through a gorge of volcanic basalt.  Another detour, resulting from a snow-blocked National Forest road, sent us westward, where we circled the majestic cone of Mt. Shasta.  Angling northeast on Route 97, we then crossed tule marshes and the Butte Valley Grasslands, passed through Klamath Falls, Oregon, and dipped back into California, spending the night in Tulelake.

This morning, we visited the fabulous Tule Lake NWR, where we encountered American white pelicans, western grebes, eared grebes, bald eagles, a few sandhill cranes, cormorants, various terns and a wide variety of waterfowl (including cinnamon teal).  We then visited Lava Beds National Monument, just northeast of the dormant Medicine Lake volcano, where we explored basalt flows and lava tubes.  Finally, we passed through Lower Klamath NWR (where avocets were especially abundant) and drove west to Medford, Oregon, dropping through the scenic Siskiyou Mountains en route.  Tomorrow we head for the California Coast.