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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
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August 15, 2012     The New Era Paper
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Page 1 4 C)|)ThC'C'I& te T r= -August 1 5, 20i 2 J}v00n heal:'s on, go ,J00own under in Central Oregon My two nephews from Mis- soula, Mont. are visiting for a week and after a few days of hot hiking we decided to head underground. Few places on earth are as dark and quiet as the inside of a cave. There's a kind of impenetrable dark- ness and total silence. When we flicked off the lights, we were en- gulfed by the darkness. Not the kind you might expect on a moonless night; there were no stars, no distant lights. The darkness was absolute, total. We could not even detect our hands a few inches from our faces. There are literally hundreds of lava tubes in Central Oregon. The Deschutes National Forest has more caves on it than any national forest in the country - about 400, although most people only know about the more popular ones. The first of the day's caves for us was Lava River Cave, the longest lava tube in Oregon at almost a mile. In places the cave is 58 feet high and 50 feet Wide. Thousands of years ago, lava flowed from the flanks of New- berry Volcano, creating a channel. The sides of the channel eventually Scott Staats crusted over, forming  roof, while the fluid lava continue, t to flow. A hollow tube was left after all the lava drained out. Lava River Cave gently slopes downhill toward the Deschutes Riv- er. At 1,500 feet in, Highway 97 is about 50 feet above the roof of the cave. Much of the cave's floor is cov- ered with sand. It was once thought that an ancient river flowed through the cave, hence its name. The sand did get into the cave by water but not from a river. Sand on the ground above the 03 YAMAHA BANSHEE LIMITED EDITION Nice, clean Banshee! Bolfon performance modifications, knobby 1ires, runs perfect! $3,995 06 TOYOTA TUNDRA OOUBLE CAR SR5 PICKUP4D 6112 Nice Truck! Custom wheels & tires, runs & drives grea[. Stock#8170 S21 995 07 KEYSTONE SPRINGDALE NODEL 189 FL 23' TRAVEL TRAILER The perfect family size travel trailer! Stock#7804 CALL FOR PRICE 3195 S. SANTIAM HWY, LEBANON, OR 97355 I 541-258-2175 I (DLR # 3102) MON-FRI: 8:AM TO 7:PM I SAT: 9:AM TO 6:PM I SUN: 9:AM TO 5:PM CROCKERSCARS.COM 10% OFF 2012 Chaiet Taknd 2012 Chalet Takeno 1865EX ............ 2265[X Stk#R8078 - high q5y I - high quality lightweight - proudly mad6 I I lightweight - proudly made in Albany I I in Albany MSRP $2,1,741 I I MSRP$2 5 7 La;senPic(519,507 J[ LassenPric,;, 1,173 2013 Truck Camper Forest River Palomino M-800 Stk#RS082 -years of quality construction at a reasonable pdce MSRP$20,578 LassenPrice$15,879 Spelunkers enter the Lava River Cave, south of Bend. cave worked its way into cracks and was carried down into the cave, grain by grain, from the movement of water. Some sand could have di- rectly got into the cave through larg- er cracks and from the mouth. This process would have taken thousands of years. At the end of the cave is a sand plug. No one knows how much far- ther the cave goes past here. Two people dug out the last section back in the ,1930s but finally gave up. From the entrance to the sand plug, the cave drops gradually about 200 feet in elevation. Halfway into the cave is a sec- tion known as "Two Tube Tunnel." Here, a smaller tube within the larger tube runs about 100 feet. Volcanic stalactites known as "lavacicles" hang from the cave's ceilings and walls. Collapses in lava tubes can oc- cur from cooling and shrinkage after the lava flows out, from freezing wa- ter that dislodges rock or from earth- quakes. Without these collapses, the caves would not be discovered. From the entrance of Lava River Cave, the main tube heads northwest for about a mile. The section to the southeast continues for another 1,560 feet but is closed to the public due to loose rock. Bats use Lava River Cave and several other caves in the area for hibernating during the winter. Most are out by this time of year. Do not disturb any bats that you happen to come across. After being in the cave for an hour or two, coming back to the warm surface feels like walking from winter right into summer. Our next stop was Boyd Cave, a lava tube 1,880 feet long. As we headed down a set of metal stairs we were immediately greeted with cool air hitting our faces. When warm air hits cooler air, the end result is mois- ture. This accounts for all the inter- esting and unique vegetation at the mouth of the cave, which creates its own mini-ecosystem. No matter the temperature out- FOR ALL YOUR SPORTING GOOD NEEDS 610 MAIN STREET J 541.367.5544 J HOURS: MAN.- SAT. 9 - 6 ] SUN. 10 - 4 11115 6TUI:F LOWER RECEIVER: N.93 UPPER RECEIVER: Sgq.g9 LOWER PARTS KIT: 5J.gg 30RD P-MAGS: ]N WOLF 223 AMMO. 500RD CASE: I]LS FEDERAL XM] 93 5.56 AMMO. 500RD CASE: S]75.D MAGPUL REAR SIGHT: 5.[] MAGPUL FRONT SIGHT: ]5J]0 TROPHY RO[K HIHEDIL BLO[K E S,.F., PREDATOR BHO [LOTHIH5 Sl].gB # In%00FF RLt.Olglll5 POWDER IMR HODGDON ,LLIANT WINCHESTER 1[1%ff Photo by Scott Staats side, the lava tube remains a steady 45 degrees year round, so be sure to dress warmly and wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots. A headlamp and a small flashlight are suggested, and watch for low-hanging rocks if you don't want to come back out with a lump on your head. There are a few collapsed sections that make for more difficult walking. These Central Oregon lava tubes have quite a history. They were first used by Native Americans and later by white settlers as refrig- erators Remnants of whiskey stills have been found in some. The gov- ernment has even looked at a few of the caves for use as bomb shelters. There were a few places where all of us had to get on our bellies and crawl through smaller passageways. Anyone suffering from claustropho- bia may want to remain in the larger portions of the caves. Through these small openings, we could feel the air blowing by us. As the barometric pressure changes outside, the air will move in and out of the lava tubes. It's almost like the caves are alive and breathing. There's a spider-like creature that calls the cave home. It's called a harvestman and is very similar to a daddy long-legs. The harvestman is not a tree spider; it has 10 legs, with the front two used to capture its prey. We did spot one toward the end of the cave. We also saw some rootlets hanging down from the roof of the lava tube, which were most likely from large ponderosa pines. The cave floor at the entrance is about 30 feet below the surface while the end of the cave is about 60 feet below the surface. To reach Lava River Cave, go 12 miles south of Bend on Highway 97. The turnoff to the cave is about two miles past Lava Lands Visitor Center. To get to B0yd Cave, take Knott Road at the south end of Bend and go east 1.3 miles, then take a fight on China Hat Road. This road turns into Forest Road. 18. Go 8.1 miles and take a left on Forest Road 1819- 242. Boyd Cave is only a few hun- dred yards down the road. The road passes through the Skeleton Fire, which burned 17,000 acres in August of 1996. WWW.LASSENRV.COM 541 .91 7.7395 877.373.2678 1t03 PRICE ROAD SE, ALBANY, OR 97322 Scott Staats is a full-time outdoor writer who lives in Prineville.