Ted's Big Perimeter Ride - Day 33




Right after packing up the bike from a night's camping, I rode to the site of The Big Obsidian Flow. At only 1300 years old, the Big Obsidian Flow covers 1.1 square miles and is the youngest lava flow known to exist in Oregon. Consists of three different types of rock: white pumice, gray pumice, and obsidian, it is just one of the great geological features to see while visiting the Newberry Crater National Monument. (Newberry Caldera has possibly existed as long as 500,000 years, when the cone of the volcano is thought to have first collapsed.) From the high point along the trail you are able to see Paulina Peak, Paulina Lake, East Lake, and the rim of the Newberry Crater.

I then rode to the Lava River Cave. I grabbed by headlight, flashed my Senior Pass, and stumbled into the darkness of the cave. When deep in the cave, I realized that the candlepower of my headlight was not sufficient to see very far off the path (which was rocky and took serious attention to navigate. I tagged along with others who had rented the higher power torches and saw all I needed to see in the cave.

Next on my journey was the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, South of Burns, OR. I had planned to try to ride the Steens Mountain Loop Rode, but that road turned out to be gravel and I have had enough gravel with my Harley. Instead, I saw that a town called Diamond, OR was at the end of the paved roadway and I decided to see what's there. On the way, I got some stunning vistas at Malheur Lake, Buena Vista Ponds and the so-so Diamond Craters. All in all it was a long, but leisurely day riding in the High Deserts of Oregon. I did have to be mindful of the gas situation, because there are very few stations out here.

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Distance:
    Today = 342 miles,
    Total   = 7,885 miles
Riding Time:
    Today = 10-Hours, 56-Min,
    Total   = 10-Days, 4-Hours, 15-Min
The Big Obsidian Flow
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Rising or exploding lava can cool very quickly in the open air. Magma that cools too quickly to grow crystals forms a natural shiny black glass called obsidian.
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Lava caves form when an active low-viscosity lava flow develops a continuous and hard crust, which thickens and forms a roof above the still-flowing lava stream. Lava caves and tubes can be up to 50 ft wide, though are often narrower, and run anywhere from 3 to 50 ft below the surface. The eruption which formed this Lava River Cave occurred about 80,000 years ago.
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Approaching the entrance.
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At its mouth, the entrance trail drops suddenly over a jumble of volcanic rocks.

Looking in...
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To get down the rock pile, I had to descend 126 steps with guard rails for safety. At the bottom of the stairs is a large cool chamber where winter ice fills cracks in the floor and ice stalactites often cling to the ceiling until June. Inside the cave, it is a constant 42 degrees. Looking back, there are no pics in the cave - too dark!

The cave's bat population is relatively small, and the bats are very shy so visitors rarely see them. In fact, bats usually remain in hibernation until July.
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The High Desert is a far cry from Oregon west of the Cascades. Covered with juniper and sagebrush and dotted with dramatic mountain ranges, this is true frontier country, a remnant of the Wild West.
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Lots of open space.
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These irrigated crop circles are immense - I estimated the radius at about 0.6 mile. I was amazed by the watering mechanism.
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Established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” In the late 1890s large numbers of colonial nesting birds on Malheur Lake were discovered by plume hunters, and in 1898, they killed most of the white herons (egrets) on Malheur Lake. This led to the Refuge designation.

Between 1936 and 1942 more than 1000 young men completed projects at Malheur Refuge. The refuge now encompasses 187,757 acres of wildlife habitat. With over 320 bird species Malheur is a mecca for birdwatchers.
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A beautiful view from the Buena Vista Overlook.
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Stopped for a little shade.
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Not too much to look at.
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But the flowers were pretty.
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The high desert is a big producer of hay - I understand it is of very high quality.
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The end of the paved road in Diamond, OR. The population was either 5 or 7, I couldn't determine which number superseeded the other!
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Greater sandhill cranes are a common sight in spring, summer and early fall, strutting across meadows in search of their next meal. Over 240 pairs have established nesting territories on Malheur.

Facts About Greater Sandhill Cranes - Live up to age 20, although a banded crane returned to Malheur for 27 years. Are nearly 5 feet tall with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. They mate for life, and begin breeding between 2 and 7 years old. Young are called colts.
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Setting up camp at the Hines, OR rest area.
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While I was setting up, David Woolsey stopped by to say hello. He is also a motorcycle traveler of the Greater USA, but was using his diesel VW Vanagon this time around.
You can see his web travel-log here.
Thanks David for stopping by to say hello and wish me safe travels.
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