Before we headed back to civilization, Tyler and I had one more stop to make: The Mojave Desert Lava Tube. Right off the 15 freeway, the lava tubes look easily accessible from the road. GPS will take you directly there but the aspect I was not prepared for was the dirt road. Aiken Mine road is only about 5 miles to the tube but it’s an extremely bumpy ride. Tyler’s dog Chapo jumped all the way to the ceiling on one bump we hit. The rickety, wild ride ended directly at the tube though and goddamn was it worth it.
I entered the tube first. Equipped with my headlamp, my phone light and my cleated running shoes, I climbed down into the sunken place. Tiny, splintered lava rocks covered the ground and walls of the cave as I descended deeper into the earth.
I kept climbing deeper into the cave until it was pitch black except for the light I had on my head. It started to get smaller inside as the walls closed around me and at one point, I had to get on my hands and knees. When I finally broke through to the other side, the tube opened up into a huge main chamber.
As you can see, the terrain was stunning. It was like standing in some sort of underworld as sunlight poured in from tiny holes on the surface. The air was thick and and it was slightly moist which was a sharp contrast to the dry desert wasteland above my head.
From the Mojave Preserve to the Lava Tube, I captured an incredible snapshot of life in the Mojave desert. I witnessed the harsh realities it has to offer and also the immense beauty it supplies just by existing. Seeing places like the lava tube and the natural preserve really highlight the different environments and ecosystems we have here in California. It gives you pause when you think about the people who first settled CA and the harsh beautiful world they were being thrust into…