Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blazing Star

At Lava Beds National Monument, my mother and I hiked to the summit of Schonchin Butte, the one cinder cone in the monument that you're allowed to hike on. There is a fire lookout station at the top of the 700-foot-high butte, but there was no ranger on duty when we made the trip.

The view from the summit is impressive. You can see Mount Shasta quite clearly from there, as seen in this photograph. In this view, you can also see some of the Medicine Lake Volcano, which has an enormous 800-square-mile footprint, but not that much height, only around 4000 feet.

And here is an exmple of a blazing star (Mentzelia laevicaulis).

The summit of this cinder cone is pretty incredible. On the one hand, it's not much but a pile of tephra and pumice with a huge lava flow originating at its base, but at the same time, it has a surprising amount of vegetation on it. And yet, to the northeast, you can see the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge alongside the fertile farmlands of Tule Lake.

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