Saturday, May 4, 2013

2012--Idaho, Craters of the Moon National Monument

The Hot Chick at Craters of the Moon National Monument

Last October, 2012, I was invited to present at the ISATA (Idaho Speech Arts Teachers Association) conference.  The annual conference is held in Sun Valley, Idaho.  I have posted pictures of a previous Sun Valley Trip before.  That travelblogue entry can be found here.  We didn't take many pictures in Sun Valley this time as we arrived just after dark and I had to continue to prepare for my presentation the next day.

Swan in the pond at the main entrance of the Sun Valley Lodge.  Yes, I really was that close.

I presented on how to make Magical Tomes and that blog post can be found here.  My brother, Bruce is a member of ISATA and he is the one who recommended me to them.  I have presented to them twice now.  I hope to have the opportunity to present to them again.  When the presentation was over, Bruce asked if he could catch a ride home with us.  We stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument on the way.

I love Craters of the Moon.  I've always been a freak for geology.  Unfortunately for me, I don't get to that part of the state very often.  When I do go there, it's usually because I'm going somewhere else so I don't have a long time to visit.  This was one of those cases.  We were only able to spend about an hour in the park.  That was just enough to whet my appetite.  There's always next year.

We did get to do a little hiking this time but it wasn't nearly enough.  It is my goal to explore the entire park someday.  The first thing we saw on this trip was the remnants of a previous volcano.  The last time The Great Rift erupted, it blew apart an ancient volcanic cone and the pieces of it floated around the site and came to rest in an area that looks like an alien landscape.

The Hot Chick and my brother in front of the cone remnants from the ancient volcano

More cone fragments

Cone fragments

Cone fragment

Cone fragment

Chimene and I climbed up a small hill to look out over the valley.  There are several trails out onto the lava flow.  This was a short one.  The view was spectacular.  While we were climbing we were amazed at how much life there really is in this "barren" wasteland.  Life will find a way to exist in any environment.  There were these little desert plants finding purchase in what little soil there was.  They looked pretty neat next to the black lava rock.

White desert plant juxtaposed to the black basalt

The magnificent view over the valley

A pahoehoe flow.  Fun to say, fun to type.

The trail to the top of the hill

A very small natural bridge

I liked this rock

What I imagine a lunar landscape could look like

More of the alien landscape

Different colored lava rock.  I think it was scoria

Small cave.  Occupied sometimes

 There is a very large cinder cone in the middle of the park.  There's a trail up to the top.  I believe it is the highest point in Craters of the Moon.  I sprinted about halfway up, then walked the rest of the way feeling like my heart was going to explode.  Next time I try that I'll train for a few months first.  The view at the top was magnificent.  Surprisingly, there were trees and plants on the top of it.  From that vantage point, you can see a kipuka, which is an area within the flow that didn't get covered by the eruption.  In other words an island in the middle of the lava flow.  The thing that is neat about a kipuka is that the plants on it are genetically isolated from all the plants around them.  Scientists study the kipukas to get an idea of what the landscape must have looked like before the flow.

Trail to the top of the cinder cone

A view from the top. 

Huge cedar tree that somehow managed to take root on top of the cone

The beige spot on the horizon is the kipuka

Strange colored rock on top of the cinder cone.  Probably was brought here by someone

The last thing I saw while in the park were a couple of mini-volcanos, side by side.  There is a gentle, improved trail up to the cones.  I believe it is wheelchair accessible.  The volcanos were very small and you can climb right up to the rim of the crater and look down.  It was interesting to imagine, while looking into the craters what was happening 2100 years ago when it last erupted.  2100 years.  Cedars are very slow growing trees and for a cedar to be that big on top of the cinder cone, must be several hundred years old, maybe even a thousand.  Wow.

The small volcanos from a distance

A natural bridge on the side of one of the volcanos

The crater of the smaller volcano.  It seemed just large enough to drop a 55 gallon drum down.

Pahoehoe flow on the way to the second volcano

Trail to the second volcano.  Very easy, paved path

Crater of the second, larger volcano.  I think you could fit a Volkswagen Beetle in this one

The rim of the crater of the second mini-volcano

Path leading into the crater

View from just outside the crater of the second mini-volcano

The barren landscape.  Lava rock as far as the eye can see.  And this is just the most recent flow.  Events happened here beginning 15,000 years ago.

Parting shot of the mini-volcanos

I really love Craters of the Moon.  I wish I would have had more time to explore.  There are trails and mountains and caves to spelunk in.  So much to do, so much to see.  I think we really need to take the time when we can make this park a destination instead of a pass-through.  The scenery is truly breathtaking.

1 comment:

  1. Gary, you should have been a geologist...or a rock and roll promoter!