Sunday, May 23, 2010

Exploring Sunset Crater

Parked conveniently at the Bonita Campground at the entrance to Sunset Crater Volcano NM, exploring the extinct volcano would be a good way to learn about the volcanoes and what things look like a thousand years after the eruption. Starting at the visitor center, I refreshed my memories of volcanoes and geology 101 from University days.

Throughout the campground and the park, the evidence of volcanic ash is at your feet. When it isn't cinders at your feet it is the solidified remains of a 1000 year old lava flow. The lava flows reminded me of visits to other volcanic sites through out the US including Hawaii. Considering that it has been 1000 years since the Sunset volcanic eruption and lava flows, it takes Nature a long time to create a layer of top soil for grasses and shallow rooted plants to become established. The pine trees struggle but are more successful as they send their roots deep into the earth.

Sunset Crater in the background is the cinder cone. The foreground is lava flow that oozed from the base of the volcano. That lava flow is not something to walk through. Great way to hurt yourself. 1000 years of weathering hasn't softened those edges of the lava flow.

Look the other direction and the San Francisco Peaks are other one time volcanoes of the area.

Trees that have died and with weathering they become great sentry trees. With some imagination, it easy to envision Snoopy perched on one of those branches.

No doubt with some time in Photoshop, I could perch myself on one of those branches. That might be something to do when I am trying to put balance in my life.

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