Friday, May 14, 2010

A Visit to a Volcano

On Tuesday before our truck troubles started, I made the decision to visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument.  And no, Denny had no choice in the matter, by gawd we were going! Heh.
Approaching the volcano by way of Rt.64/87 you can see the crater of the volcano.  Capulin is the Spanish word for chokeberry, a type of bush native to this area. As we drove towards the volcano from the town of Raton we passed the T.O. Ranch, which a wildlife officer later told us encompasses over 300,000 acres of land on both sides of Rt.64/87.  It's an impressive spread!

Rising almost 1,300 feet above the plains, the views from the top of the Capulin Volcano are incredible.  Once you leave the visitor center (as a National Monument owners of the Golden Age card get in free) the road to the summit of the volcano winds around for two miles.  Of course, going up you are on the outside lane where there is no shoulder and crumbling edges of pavement on the very narrow drive lane.  There is only one pull over about midway up to take pictures although there were no other people at the park when we drove up so we were able to stop and snap a couple of pictures on the way to the top.

The Capulin (pronounced cah-poo-LEEN) volcano is a cinder cone volcano, meaning it was created by huge sprays of lava spewing into the atmosphere, becoming solid and then dropping back to earth forming the cone shaped mountain.  Near the top of the volcano you park at 7877 feet above sea level and then walk .2 of a mile down to the bottom of the crater where you get a close up view of the lava rock.

The two of us in the center of the volcano.  Not quite "Joe Versus the Volcano".

Walking back means a couple of stops for those of us not acclimated to being way over a mile up in the sky!  You can also walk around the rim of the volcano on the one-mile long path, but we knew our lungs weren't quite up to that yet.  So Denny and I wandered to a high point of the path near the parking lot so I could take a picture of the snow-capped Sangre de Cristo mountains, a mere 120 or so miles away.

While walking up to the nearest bench Denny noticed some movement in the brush and what we saw were mule deer foraging.  They were as curious about us as we were about them.

They say that on a clear day you can see four states--New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma from the highest point of the trail.  I believe it!  It was a bit hazy on the day of our visit but the views were incredible.  We were hoping to see a bit more wildlife, but the only other critters were saw were some spotted towhees.
We did have some winds that day, but Denny and I still decided to sit on the wall of the parking lot overlooking the mesas and not-quite-volcanos below us and have our picnic lunch.

For the ride home we came back by way of Rt. 72, a narrow winding state route that lead us by tiny ranches, miles of plains and mesas and herds of pronghorn antelope.
All in all an interesting day.  What was more interesting was receiving an e-mail from a new blogging friend, aka "the Other Linda", who told a story of her then-teenaged brother and a group of his friends who dragged a bunch of old tires to one of the minor volcano sites in the area waaaaayyyy back in the 50s where they then lit the tires on fire.  Seems it caused a bit of a panic for the town folk who thought one of the volcanoes had started to erupt.  Hee!  Sounds like the kind of thing a certain set of cousins of mine would have done.  And I might just have been right there along with them.

A good day, ruined by a check engine light coming on after a stop at the local DQ for a malt and a shake.  That's a whole 'nother post.

1 comment:

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Great pictures of the volcano,and a good story about the tire fire,Allmakes for a good day. Ne safe out there, Sam & Donna.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...