We really did sleep in this morning-it was about 7:30 when we got up. Since we didn't have to go anywhere today, we leisurely enjoyed our coffee outside.
Breakfast was cereal (a decision I regretted later while hiking), and then we went to the Visitor Center. They have some great explanations of the formation of the park, including 2 short movies. This area is over the same "hot spot" that created Yellowstone--and beginning 15,000 years ago the Great Rift formed, running north-south on the Snake River Plain. There have been numerous lava flows and eruptions since then, forming different types of lava and cones.
After our Visitor Center experience, we drove out on the road through the upper monument. We were disappointed to find several major areas closed due to construction, and I wondered aloud why it all had to be done at the same time. If I were queen I would have done one section at a time so as not to inconvenience visitors with more than one closure at at time. But I'm not queen, so we had to drive by the North Crater Flow area, the Devil's Orchard, and the Spatter Cones and Big Craters Area.
This cinder hillside is covered with Dwarf Buckwheat plants. They're evenly spaced in order for their root systems to compete for water.
We stopped at a trailhead and decided to hike out to the Tree Molds--places where lava had cooled around the trunks of several trees (which were incinerated, but still left the impressions of their trunks and bark. The trail was 2.6 miles, but was fairly easy.
It was a lot like hiking along the side of a large river, only instead of water, the lava was what had flowed.
We saw some pretty interesting lava shapes.
Here you can see the edge of a flow that just stopped and cooled above the cinders.
Early in the hike you come to a cinder crater.
The first of three distinct tree molds. You can see that a trunk once existed, but was incinerated when the lava hit it.
The other two.
Next we went about 100 yards further on the trail, and saw where there were some tree molds of trunks that were horizontal.
The impression of the bark on this one reminds me of a crocodile.
These were gross (to me). They had the appearance of spider web-enclosed cocoons, but instead of one caterpillar, each sac had hundreds of tiny wriggling worms. If you know what they are, let me know.
We're almost back to the parking lot.
We came back to the trailer around 1, ate some lunch, and made a quick run into Arco for some beer and produce. Right now we're weather-watching. A huge front that impacted northern California and Nevada has finally made its way here. The skies are overcast, it's sprinkling occasionally, and the wind is gusting pretty heavily. But it's not too cold, and we're inside.
I just want the wind to die down before it's time to cook dinner. I have a steak thawing!
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