Road Trip 2010 Day 3: Cinder Cone, Tule Lake Internment Camp, & Petroglyph Point

by Kara on July 31, 2010

My shadow on a tree at sunrise at the top of Cinder Cone, copyright Kara Sjoblom-Bay

I didn’t sleep real well last night, mainly due to having a makeshift pillow. I meant to bring pillows, but I totally forgot. I can sleep in almost any circumstances, as long as I have a nice fluffy pillow. The other problem was screaming kids, about an hour past the start of quiet time. When it was time to wake up at 4:00 am, I wasn’t entirely sure I even slept. We did expect that it would be quite cold, but it was fine when we got up – brisk, but hardly freezing.

We started off at about 4:20 am, but had to go back to the car for my hiking poles, which cost us about 10 minutes. There is a big open area on the trail to the Cinder Cone, and I was a little concerned about finding our way across it in the pitch dark. I was right to be concerned. We got way off course and had to hike uphill through a thick bed of pine needles and pine cones. So by the time we got to the base of the cinder cone, I was already pretty winded. The altitude at the bottom was probably a little over 5100 feet.

It turns out that hiking up a very steep path made of cinder and small rocks is fairly difficult. With nearly every step, I slid back a few inches. I was very happy I had my walking sticks. I had to stop and rest frequently. Even Stephen, who is in much better shape, had to make frequent stops. Since he needed to make it up to the top before sunrise for his pictures, I told him not to wait for me. I’d reach the top when I got there. Although it seemed like forever, I would estimate that it took me about a half hour to get to the top. The path was fairly short, but quite steep. The sun was just cresting over the nearby lava beds when I reached the top, around 6:00 am.

There was an amazing view of a mountain peak (Lassen?), turned purple by the early morning light. The crater itself, in the middle of the cinder cone, seemed huge. Because of the wind, it was pretty cold at the top, until the sun got a little higher. Stephen got lots of great pictures, and by 8:00 am, we were ready to head back down. We met another couple who were coming up, and they were the first people we saw all morning. I couldn’t believe that not only were we the first to make the hike that day, but also that we were up there for two hours before anyone else showed up. I couldn’t imagine making the climb after the sun came up. We passed four more people on the hike back to camp.

When we reached camp, people were just getting up and having breakfast. Our neighbors were quite surprised to see us. They said they thought we were sleeping in really late. Stephen made a breakfast of eggs and sausage while I rolled up the sleeping bags. After breakfast, we got everything else packed up and were probably on the road by 10:00 or 10:30 am.

We left Lassen and were on our way to Lava Beds National Monument. None of the California maps we had was particularly wonderful, and the path I chose may have been the shortest distance, but it was definitely not the fast. We headed up 89 and then took U.S. Forest Service roads up to the 139 and into Tulelake.

One of the places Stephen wanted to visit was the Tule Lake Segregation Center, which was a Japanese internment camp during World War II. We happened across it on our drive, so we pulled in. It turns out the camp is only open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays and usually people need to make appointments. But we just stumbled in as e guide was finishing another tour, so we got our own tour after that. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to see there, and it has been heavily vandalized. But I’m glad we got to see it. The guide also recommended a couple motels to us, so we were able to stay in Tulelake and not have to drive all the way to Klamath.

We checked into the Ellis Motel, and our room includes a kitchen. So far, we haven’t gone out to dinner once. We have made all our own meals on the road. We’ve spent $168 total on accommodations for three nights, so we’ve saved a lot there too.

After checking into the motel, we headed back out to Petroglyph Point. We hiked up the trail and finally figured out that the petroglyphs were at ground level on the other side of the hill. The only reason to hike up there is for the view – there are no petroglyphs at the top. After hiking back down, we drove around to the other side, where there was a long fence separating visitors from the huge collection of petroglyphs. Many of them were still in very nice condition, although it was disappointing to see quite a bit of vandalism. They wouldn’t have to put up a fence if they could trust people not to be idiots.

Finally, we headed back to the motel to relax and have dinner. While Stephen was cooking dinner (burritos), the motel owner’s large gray goose came up to the kitchen window and loudly honked his demand for food, which we did not accommodate. He was quite insistent, and if I chatted with him, he became even more insistent. He stood at the window and scolded us for the better part of our dinner.

After dinner, my job was to find us a place to stay in or near Crater Lake. There was nothing in the park itself, so I started checking nearby towns like Fort Klamath, Diamond Lake and Union Creek. At most, I could find a room for one night, but not for two, which is what we wanted. Finally, I called Union Creek Resort (which basically is the town of Union Creek. All they had available was the Executive Cabin, which rents for $255 a night. That was way out of our price range, but the guy offered it to me for $125 a night, so I grabbed it.

The motel was a little noisy because it was so close to the highway, but I did manage to fall asleep.

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