This post is a day behind due to lack of connectivity at the National Monument.
I got my very first Pacific Northwest stamp today! Hard to believe I’ve gotten this far in life without visiting this region of the U.S.
That’s how Calvin Coolidge described this place. I guess the word freaky wasn’t presidential enough.
Miles from nowhere in Idaho's Snake River Valley, the National Park Service protects 750,000 acres of this unique landscape brought forth by volcanic forces.
There are 5 trails throughout the preserve winding among the formations.
I’ve got to say this is the second most peculiar terrain I’ve ever hiked. (First would be the dunes at Whites Sands National Monument). As you can see, the trail to the summit is steep, but not impossibly so; however, the strong gusting winds presented a challenge to remaining upright. The wind was so strong I had to take my earrings off because they were beating against my face. Of course, I end up losing one.
The views from the top are worth it.
Scattered throughout the preserve are signs describing the forces that birthed this otherworldly landscape. Interestingly, this vast lava field emanated not from one volcano, but from a series of deep fissures that cross the Snake River Plains. The most recent (though probably not the last) eruption was 2,000 years ago.
Cinder Cone Fragments:
Think icebergs in a sea of lava. They are scattered throughout the preserve.
These are miniature volcanoes – some of the rarest volcanic features on earth.
Lava Flow Campground
This is my first campground stay of the trip, but how can one resist the chance to sleep in a lava field? At $10 a night (first- come first-served) there are no hookups or showers but …. the scenery is remarkable.
I’m hoping for a big star show tonight given the 4,500 foot altitude, low humidity, quarter-moon, and complete absence of artificial lights. [Update: Sigh. It was not to be. A heavy cloud cover moved in at sunset].
Tomorrow I head toward Boise. After that …… Oregon at last!