David going in to our favorite secret ice cave.
Inside the ice cave. Solid ice floor. You can slide around and skate on your shoes. Really cool.
Ice formation in the cave. There are usually a lot more but most were toppled. It wasn't due to vandalism - as you can see with this one it's melting through at the bottom. Most had narrow points where they'd melted through and snapped off. Must be the warm winter this year.
Heading in to Skull Cave
Without flash. Time to turn on the headlamp. This cave has a path/stairs. Others don't. That's the fun of lava beds - playing in the developed caves AND the wild caves.
Down the stairs to the ice floor of skull cave.
Skull Cave, dirty ice floor.
To do something outside of the caves we decided to hike to the Three Sisters. We've been to Lava Beds a ton of times but have never hiked this trail.
Above Ground at Lava Beds. Lots of craters and buttes.
Lava flow along the three sisters trail.
The tallest of the Three Sisters is ahead. It's a set of three volcanic craters.
After cutting off the trail and dodging lava flows we're almost near the top.
Last little piece before the 'summit'
Looking back down on the terrain we just walked through. The trail is easy, but the last ~1/2 mile to the actual top involves navigating around lava flows and collapses.
Top of the biggest Sister
On top of the crater.
View south towards Glass Mountain. Snowy! We drove up there the next morning in search of obsidian.
Buttes of Lava Beds
Summit junk food. Also: yay Sierra Nevada in cans!
One of the many lava trenches (tube collapses) throughout the park.
Look for these kind of collapses to find wild caves.
Helen (she closes her eyes just like David) climbing out of a lower chamber in a wild cave. This one was really awesome. It was kind of boring until crawling into this lower, huge chamber.
Lava Tubes scenery.
Checking out a sketchy cave. Can't go lower without a rope (old rotten wood planks above drop into deeper cave). Didn't have proper equipment along. Checked it out from above and moved on.
Paige emerging from a cave.
Yet another cave
Didn't hike this loop but I like the trail name.
Helen at Mammoth Crater
Next we visited a cave outside of the park that we've visited many times. There were amazing ice formations this time. I've never seen this cave look like this. Awesome!
Duane below the ice
Looking back at the entrance.
Entrance Light reflecting through the ice (no flash)
Exit end. Still a lot of ice down here (reflections are all ice)
Near the cave outside of the park: the biggest firepit I've ever seen.
Back in the park, visiting Golden Dome (one of the developed caves). Minimally developed - this ladder is mostly it.
Inside Golden Dome.
The golden color in this cave comes from the reflection of light from water droplets that bead up on top of a hydrophobic bacteria.
Inside the Golden Dome.
Back at the entrance.
Driving home on Sunday we took the side trip/leg stretch at Burney Falls. Love this place!