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On Thursday hubby and I headed out to wander around the area near Medicine Lake. We’ve been to Medicine Lake itself a number of times on previous trips, but this time we decided to try and find some of the other volcanic features that were noted on our Forest Service map.

Our first stop was at a fairly small cinder cone called Paintpot Crater. You could see the cone from the road but not from the tiny parking area near the trail to the crater. So after walking about a quarter mile from the parking spot, you’re finally rewarded with a view of the cinder cone with loads of pumice lying all over the place. Even the little trail we were walking on was covered in pumice.

Paintpot Crater

After spending a little time looking around Paintpot Crater, we headed out again and wandered over to Little Glass Mountain. In shield volcanoes you sometimes get areas where the pressure builds up (which creates a flow of magma instead of an eruption) and where there is a lot of silica present in or near the magma, you can get obsidian (basically glass) forming in the lava. Both Glass Mountain and Little Glass Mountain are lava flows that are filled with obsidian. We’ve been to Glass Mountain in the past but didn’t realize (until I spent some time looking at the maps) that there was a smaller formation on the other side of the Medicine Lake volcano.

None of the pictures that we took really show the obsidian well, but the shiny spots in the flow are bits of it in with the lava. Hubby snuck this shot of the truck from across the road and I thought it gave some perspective on the size of the flow.

Little Glass Mountain

This chunk of obsidian is huge! I know there’s no scale but it is roughly 2 feet long.

Big chunk of obsidian

This little guy was resting on a flower stalk near the lava flow.

Shasta Blue Butterfly

After leaving Little Glass Mountain we headed out along a dirt and gravel road toward Medicine Lake. We knew it was about 20 miles to the lake (based on the map) but had never been on this particular road before. Man was I glad we left Cindy at the house! It was 20 miles of bone-jarring bumpy-assed road. In spots it was so bad I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get through … clearly this road isn’t traveled a lot. It was fun though. πŸ™‚

About a quarter mile from the end of this road I spied a tiny parking area with a picnic table just beyond it. We decided to take a little break and have a snack and once we got to the picnic table we found that we’d stumbled upon Little Medicine Lake … and there was no one else around. Score!

Little Medicine Lake
Another view of Little Medicine Lake

After having our snack we explored the edge of the lake a bit and stumbled upon a bunch of tadpoles.

Can you see the tadpoles hiding in the grasses?

And there were small blue dragonflies all over the place. They wouldn’t hold still long enough to get a picture, but I sort of caught a bunch of them briefly clinging to some of the grasses at the edge of the lake.

Blue Dragonflies

Hubby even managed to find a tiny frog near where the tadpoles were swimming. He’s near the bottom of the picture just to the left of center.

Do you see the tiny little frog?

Just before we left a stiff breeze picked up and rippled across the surface of the lake.

Waves on the lake

There was supposedly an area with a huge amount of pumice a few miles north of Medicine Lake but we couldn’t find it (some of the stuff on the map was on private property) but on the way back past the lake we stopped at the side of the road to get a shot of a huge lava flow a little ways off.

Lava Flow

And found a bunch of wildflowers growing in the lava rock near the roadside.

Tenacious Flowers

After driving back past Medicine Lake headed toward the highway we decided to take another (thankfully better) dirt and gravel road to the secondary highway to see if we could see any of the large cinder cones on the map. We couldn’t see any of them, but it was a pretty drive.

Traveling through volcanic country

About midway down the road we came across a lovely meadow and some gorgeous wildflowers.

Lava rock in the meadow
Wildflowers growing at the edge of the meadow

I’ll post the rest of the pics from our visit to Castle Crags shortly. πŸ˜‰

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