Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
Impearls: 2004-06-06 Archive
Northwestern California and the Klamath Mountains
Orbital photograph of the Klamath Mountains region of the far northwest of California, Space Shuttle image
North is to upper left.
Easily visible on the photo is the winding channel of the Klamath (California's third largest river, after the Colorado and Sacramento), entering the state across the top of the image from Oregon, disgorging into the Pacific at lower left. Near the bottom of the photo, where the river can be seen to make a sharp right-hand bend, occurs its confluence with its largest tributary, the Trinity River, which comes in from lower-right, where the broad buff-colored Hoopa Valley can be readily seen.
Somewhat below the center of the image can be seen a broad ‘X’ in the Klamath, where the remote and exquisite Salmon River flows in from the southeast, while another stream, Wooley Creek, enters from the northeast.
The wild and scenic forks of the Salmon are accessible only through a pair of roads (one per fork) which, though paved, are single-lane only (and I don't mean one lane in each direction) for mile after mile.
The ranges through which the Salmon's forks run are known as the Salmon Mountains.
Beyond those, extending off the far right of the image can be seen the breathtaking Trinity Alps, shining whitely with lingering snow.
Back to the ‘X’, across the Klamath from the mouth of the Salmon, on a bluff overlooking a rapids adjoining an isolated little peak, stands the center of the world, known as Katimin, to the native Karuk. We'll have much more to say in the future about the Karuk and other peoples of the lower Klamath and Trinity rivers' remarkable civilization. On that same side (the right bank) of the river arise the rugged Siskiyou Mountains, and similar-named Wilderness, which sweep north and then, together with the river, turn east, forming a rampart barring the Oregon frontier. Across that border, along the left-top of the image, can be seen the Applegate River (a tributary of the Rogue) region of southwestern Oregon.
The fourth leg of the Salmon-Klamath rivers' ‘X’ (extending directly away from the viewer looking down from the space shuttle) is Wooley Creek, flowing out of the heart of the Marble Mountains (and the Marble Mountain Wilderness) located in the geometric center of the image. Trail book author Art Bernstein describes the Marble Valley, high up in those mountains, as “point blank: the Marble Valley may be the most beautiful place I've ever been. I consider it the ultimate journey into the glacial valleys of the Klamath Mountains system.” 1
Beyond and to the east (upper right) of the Marbles in the space shuttle shot lies the buff-colored Scott Valley, an agricultural Shangri-la surrounded by towering mountains (with a few “island” mountains “floating” within the flat valley). Beyond yet more mountains, can be seen (stretching across the top mid-right of the shuttle photo) the (also tan-colored) Shasta Valley.
With that we depart the geologic domain of the Klamath Mountains and enter the ultra-volcanic realm of the Cascades. The Cascade Range stretches inland from the Pacific Coast all the way from California's Mount Lassen into British Columbia, including such great peaks as Mount Hood and Mount Rainier. In the space shuttle photo above, however, at the extreme upper right can be seen the white gleam of glaciers on the mightiest “stratovolcano” of them all, 14,162-ft. (4,316 meter) Mount Shasta, largest in bulk (some 350 km3 or 84 cu.mi.) and tallest (above its base) of the huge “stratocones” of the Cascades, together with serving as northern California's highest peak.
For a perspective on the tremendous difference geologically between the Klamaths and the Cascades, consider the distinction in ages: Mount Shasta, in its latest incarnation, is approximately 100,000 years old — or only about the age of our own species. The mountains of the Klamaths, contrariwise, are over 100 million years old — a factor of a thousandfold older.
It's not quite visible over the top edge of the space shuttle photo above, but the Klamath River bears another distinction: It slices completely across the Cascade Range, from its origin on the other side of the Cascades in the Klamath Falls region of southern Oregon. It's difficult for rivers (even if they pre-existed the volcanism) to cut or maintain their flow across a volcanic mountain range. Lava flows repeatedly fill incipient valleys and turn flowing waters back away from the smoking mountains. Only three rivers have managed to penetrate long-term the barrier of the high Cascades in North America: the mighty Columbia River of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia; California's Sacramento River, via its longest tributary, the Pit River, originating (originally) at Goose Lake on the Oregon border in the extreme northeast of the state; and lastly the Klamath River.
The only major highways which run through the area pictured from space above are U.S. Route 101, proceeding up and down the coast in these parts, and (the most important route) Interstate-5, which follows the Shasta Valley just this side of Mount Shasta (passing almost under Shasta's pair of gigantic stratocones: an extraordinary sight when not totally socked in by weather). Thus, it's easily possible (as I myself managed, to my ultimate chagrin) to drive repeatedly from California to Oregon, back and forth up both roads over quite a number of years, without ever realizing there's this vast, complex, and magnificent formation of mountains, the Klamath Mountains, lying smack in between! The Klamath Mountains are remote and neglected even by Californians, since when natives think of going to the mountains, they typically think of the Sierras, while if the idea of the far north of California enters into their cognition, they then usually think of Mount Shasta.
Impearls is a California institution, located amongst the southernmost of the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, some 80 miles (130 km) south of San Francisco, perched along the northern shore of half-moon shaped Monterey Bay. It's a beautiful, mild-climated region that we have had occasion to note attractions of on at least one occasion in the past. Impearls will continue to feature articles on regional issues, whether that “region” be central and northern California, the West of the United States, North America, the crust of the Earth, Inner Solar System, Milky Way, or Local Group of Galaxies.
One of the amusing things about living on the periphery of the San Francisco Bay Area, though, is the way the people of San Francisco and the Bay Area regard themselves as the epitome of “Northern California.” Yet California is such a huge, long drawn-out state (over 800 miles, or more than 1,300 km, from end to end), that up near the Oregon border in California one finds oneself actually closer to Portland (all the way on the opposite side of Oregon) than to the San Francisco Bay Area, much less the remainder of California.
The author of our favorite trail guide — Art Bernstein's Best Day Hikes of the California Northwest — describes the far northwest of California thusly: 2
2005-12-10 14:30 UT:
Changed hosting of images, and updated some of them slightly.
Thanks to the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, for the
of the Klamath Mountains from the space shuttle.
Thanks also to the California Geological Survey's
for the map of California's geologic provinces and the locator map to the Klamath Mountains province.
Art Bernstein, Best Day Hikes of the California Northwest, Mountain N'Air Book, 1991;
Art Bernstein, Best Day Hikes of the California Northwest, Mountain N'Air Book, 1991;
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