Foto Friday – 08/01/16

I’m a little nostalgic today. Maybe because I want to go hiking. Maybe because I miss warmer weather.

Or maybe because I feel the need to travel again.


That’s a panorama of Ubehebe Crater, smack-dab in the middle of Death Valley, Nevada. I visited this place on the tail-end of my field school that spanned California and Nevada in my graduating semester of my BSc at Memorial University. I had never been to a volcano before, extinct or otherwise (at least that looked the part, with a conical shape and depression in the middle).

Once we got there I was instantly a kid again. The world reverted to a much simpler place, where dinosaurs and volcanoes were cartoony, abstract concepts that weren’t real life. I couldn’t decide if I should walk the crater’s ridge or launch myself down into it. Was there time for both? I didn’t take much time to decide. I snapped that panorama as quickly as possible and sprinted down the path to the cater floor. The path was loosely-packed, volcanic gravel that gave way much like sand. It was difficult to run on, but if you jumped your landing was cushioned. I must have made the descent 10 or more feet at a time at some points.

Once my descent was complete, I ran to the direct center of the crater, and did several 360’s to take it all in. I was standing in the epicenter of an ancient, unimaginably powerful explosion of hot, melted rock kept under insane pressures. I attempted to replay the events in my mind. The crater proper was about the size of a hockey stadium in length and width, and maybe two or more tall. Many times that volume made up of a mixture of molten and hot solid material, held under the weight of the overlain rock, was liberated in one catastrophic instant.


All of this empty space was once super hot solid material that was ejected into the air. You should be glad you weren’t around then.

It was impossible to comprehend. I didn’t even try that hard; it hurt my brain.

We had some kind of assignment down there, but I can’t remember what it was. It paled in comparison to how awesome the crater itself was. And, after about a half hour of exploring, debating, and picture taking, we had to start the hike back up. I had no idea how far it was, having ran down it so quickly. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

The “Ash Highway.”

I took that last snap as I began my ascent. If you look closely you can just make out four people scaling that white layer of rock. It was a volcanic ash column, preserved from the time of eruption. Those four people are my buddies (part of team “Brotein”) that decided to make the trip up in style by pseudo-rock climbing. I was going to do it too, but I noticed how steep it was and that it seemed to split and drop off pretty sharply towards the top. So, being the wuss I am, I backed out and took the much harder volcanic sand-gravel route. It was a gruelling workout, and I’m glad I did it because I hate leg day. Oh, and those four geniuses made it out in one piece too.

And now I really have the itch to go exploring again. I can’t wait to travel somewhere new and learn all about that place’s people, culture, history, food, architecture, and especially geology.

I hope everyone has an adventurous weekend! I’ll have a Guinness (or two) for you.


Featured image: The little crater that could – Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley, NV.




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