Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lunar Landscape

The forecast for the next week calls for rain, wind and more more of the same.  Given that’s it is late November, it’s way past time to share a little about the last stop on our August journey to rediscover the Oregon Trail.  If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of south central Idaho, be sure to take a side trip to Craters of The Moon National Monument.  I guarantee the landscape is unlike anything you have ever experienced outside of Hawaii or the moon.

If you are interested in geology and how volcanoes shape the earth, you can pretty much see it all inside of the monument.  On the other hand, the landscape can be enjoyed just for it’s stark and unusual beauty.  Opportunities for hiking exist at every stop but be sure to have a water bottle handy because water is scarce in this arid environment.  Today the landscape is serene  but but a mere two thousand years ago the earth spewed molten lava from the numerous cinder and spatter cones which are scattered across the area.



Lava once flowed from the cinder cones in the distance



The presence of vegetation indicates that this cinder cone has been inactive for perhaps three thousand or more years



Spatter cones such as these dot the landscape; despite their small size, they are capable of ejecting vast amount of lave



The earth’s surface extremely rough and difficult to traverse.  A branch of the Oregon Trail passed nearby;  I often wonder what the emigrants thought when seeing this area?


If you decide to visit this truly Idaho gem, do not wait too long because the geologists predict that it will be erupting again sometime in the next one thousand years.