Sunday, June 21, 2009

Colorado: June 16, 2009 Capulin National Monument.

Today we explored Capulin National Monument and the area surrounding Capulin, NM.

We were up early and at the entrance to the Monument when the gates opened at 7:30am. Sometimes we like to get an early start when we go sightseeing. A definite benefit to an early start is there are very few other visitors around, so you have the park pretty much to yourselves. The air is fresh and the early morning sun is always invigorating. We are camped at about 6900’ so the morning is cool, about 45*.

Morning view of lupine (bluebonnet?) flower and countryside.

Capulin Volcano

Rises about 1000’ above the surrounding countryside. It was formed about 90,000 years ago when hot gases escaping from far below the ground blew ash and molten lava into the sky.

A picture of modern day volcano erupting just like Capulin did.

Many volcanoes form the typical cone shape form when they first erupt, but then in their latter stages, molten lava flows over the top of the cone, distorting the shape. Capulin’s molten lava stage occurred when the lava flowed out of the base(Baca) of the volcano leaving the top a typical cone shape . The ash that spewed out of the volcano (along with the volcanic bombs) fell around the top reinforcing the cone shape.

Picture of an ancient lava flow at the base. The ripples you see on the ground are caused by the surface cooling and solidifying while the lower part is still liquid and flowing.

Enough of the technical stuff.

There is a paved road going from the base to the very top. If you look back at the picture of Capulin Volcano earlier, the line around the side of the volcano is the road. No guard rail, just a VERY steep drop off at the edge of the pavement. From the parking lot at the top, you can look down to the bottom of the crater. This gave Sharon the opportunity to get out and see down into the crater. The opposite side of the parking lot had a beautiful view looking out over the countryside from this 1000’ vantage point. While Al took the one mile hike around the rim, Sharon stayed in the car and watched the pretty changing light and clouds on the surrounding country side. Al did a little huffing and puffing on the hike. The trail is at 8000’ and just two days ago we were at 700’ in San Antonio.

A few pictures from the trail:

Up in the clouds

View from the trail

Lava bomb beside the trail

A lava bomb is a molten blob of lava which cools and solidifies in the air and falls back to help form the cone.

View into the crater from the top of the rim. You can see the trail into the bottom of the crater.

Wild flower beside trail

A closer look

The rest of the day we drove around the country side and towns looking at general scenery. Nothing much to take pictures of, other than there was a pretty water fall. The rock beside the water fall looks like a cows head

We also had a flat tire on our car fixed. When we first got to the top of volcano this morning, Al noticed one of our tires was almost flat. We carry a 12 volt air pump with us for just these kinds of situations. Al pumped up the tire and upon inspection saw a small nail in the tread. We just left the nail in the tire and drove to a near by town, later, and had it fixed. As long as the nail or screw stays in the tire you can drive for quite a few miles before it looses enough air to go flat again. We probably towed the car several hundred miles, behind the Bug, yesterday with the nail in the tire.

Heading to the mountains near Colorado Springs tomorrow.

Until later,

Al & Sharon

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