A brief tour through Jefferson State

September 30, 2008 at 2:14 am | Posted in adventures | Leave a comment

Mt. Shasta Sunset

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_State

By Frank

I drove 1000 miles this weekend. I didn’t really mean to, but I forgot how big Oregon and Northern California are. I planned on 640 miles round-trip to what I consider my hometown (Tulelake, California). My family moved there from Kansas in 1986 after my grandparents died. It’s 5 miles south of the Oregon, and the nearest “big” town is Klamath Falls, Oregon. Tulelake is in the south east end of the Klamath Basin. The actual Tule Lake used to be over 100,000 acres, but the feds drained/diverted it, and it’s now only 13,000 acres; the exposed lake bed was converted to farms that currently produce potatoes, onions, alfalfa, barley, and horseradish at 4,000 feet in elevation. With only about 10 inches of rain a year, the area is considered high desert. There are not many trees around the area. Mostly juniper trees and sagebrush in the hills. If you were on a Jeep trail in the nearby mountains, you’d think you were in a wild west movie, what with the tumble weeds and rocks and desert.

But near the Klamath Basin is Crater Lake, which gets about 533 inches of snow a year on average. When I started in June of 1999, there was still 10 feet on the ground. Not much snow this September, which is normal. Early October, the snow will return. Summer is short there. Sandra and I only drove through the park and stopped for lunch at the Rim Village. Total tourists. But it was worth it to be among the 500 year old Red Fir trees, which are unbelievably magnificent.

We also took a tour of Northern California from the Modoc Plateau to Mt. Shasta. The Modoc Plateau is in Modoc County , which is California’s northeast corner. It is more than twice the area of Rhode Island with only 10,000 people. EMPTY. Mostly desert, but some nice forests of ponderosa pines. We stopped at Burney Falls, which Teddy Roosevelt called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It’s a very special place.

We stopped at some other waterfalls south of Mt. Shasta. Then we drove past the 8,000 foot level of the 14,162 feet high volcano. The landscape is otherworldly up there.

Then it was a long 80 mile drive from Mt. Shasta’s south side back north to the Oregon border. We watched the sun set on the mountain and drove through sage, ponderosas, grass valleys, and marshes on the way back to Tulelake.

All in all, it was a good weekend. Great friends. Great place. It reminded me how big the State of Jefferson is and how much of it I still need to explore.

Check out our photos from the trip

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