let’s go back 7000 years & visit a lava forest
I took a trip back into time, 7000 years to be exact, more or less. I drove 26 miles south of Bend, Oregon and visited the Lava Cast Forest. It is a part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Because of the weather during the winter, it is accessible only during the spring through the fall, May to November.
Apparently, during a hike in 1925, Walter Perry, an employee of the Forest Service, found the area.
It is an easy drive from Bend and the directions are simple enough. “From Bend take the exit off Highway 97 14.8 miles south on Hwy. 97 (3 miles south of Lava Lands Visitor Center), as if you are going to Sunriver, but head east instead. You’ll follow an unpaved road for 8.6 miles east on F.S. Rd. 9720, and then 0.7 miles south on F.S. Rd. 9720 950 to the parking area for the Lava Cast Forest.” (These directions can be found at Outdoor Oregon Activities, too)
Today there is a trail, paved and accessible for a wheel chair, that winds for about a mile through a terrain where molten lava once erupted and flowed from the northwest flank of the Newberry Volcano. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Over the years–decades, centuries–Ponderosa pines, flowers of many varieties, and Indian paintbrush have grown from the crevices. Penstemon flowers can be seen, for example. During the spring and summer it can be quite lovely. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
I mentioned the name of the area is Lava Cast Forest. “Cast” might not be the best word. A better word would be “mold.” When the lave flowed through standing forests, the trees became encased. The lava cooled and hardened and the trees inside died and burned away, leaving hollows in the lava. What remained, of course, were the “casts.”