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Morning on Medicine Lake | by walking along
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Morning on Medicine Lake

The volcanic landscape north and west of Lassen Volcanic National Park (the southernmost significant "mountain" in the Cascade Range) is not severe or dramatic, but no less interesting. It's essentially an enormous lava flow that occupies almost the entire northeast quadrant of California. Multiple lakes dot the map. Some like Medicine Lake reside in distinct volcanic calderas (though much older and worn down than Crater Lake for example). Many of the features are accessed by "maintained" dirt and gravel forest service roads. Such features include: lava tube caves, ice caves, glass (obsidian) flows, lava flows, meadows, ponds and cinder cones. Mostly you can have these wonders to yourself. Though much has been logged, fairly heavily, second growth hemlock forests for example, are returning to almost old growth appearance since that species was last logged almost 100 years ago (personal communication, USFS). Ponderosa Pine stands everywhere are trashed, of course. Most of the lakes are fringed with pure Lodgepole Pine forest, luckily a tree of little economic value in these parts. An interesting species in that, though individual trees live just decades at most, this tree species succeeds at water's edge where others do not, and takes part as the "pioneer "tree when lakes convert to meadows, convert to forest, over time. Most of these lakes have no clearly defined inlet; much of the water flows underground and probably enters though lava tubes or underwater "springs". A unique terrain. An acquired aesthetic taste. Won't make Explore for sure.


So.....long story. This photograph was taken from a kayak on the lake. (The absolute best and only real way to explore these lakes as walking the perimeter is like walking though a field of giant "pick-up sticks" thrown from above). The forest is pure "old growth" Lodgepole Pine forest, and is "ancient " (thousands of years). The water is "lava filtered" and quite clear.

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Taken on June 21, 2007