|Day 10 - Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
||[Aug. 16th, 2004|10:00 pm]
Trip Odometer: 3010 mi|
This morning we woke up and broke camp after a breakfast of pancakes (surprisingly easy – I think we’ll do them again), then raced back to Old Faithful for showers. It was about 30 miles out of our way. I think that’s about the furthest I’ve gone for a shower ever). While I was there and waiting for duckmonster some guys happened by me into the men’s room and one of them saw my hat and said “Wow! WRCT Pittsburgh! Cool!” Apparently this is the current business manager (who I’ve never met).
After showering, we left Yellowstone for Idaho and Craters of the Moon. We actually passed through Montana for a short time (unexpectedly) so I guess our detour a few days ago wasn’t entirely necessary, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk (or driven miles, I suppose).
Craters of the Moon definitely lived up to its name. Just like the badlands, the terrain rose up from the surrounding fields suddenly and unexpectedly. Only this time the terrain was completely otherworldly. Mountains and plains made completely of broken up black rock. In fact, the idea of a “black badlands” describes this place pretty well, despite the fact that the forces at work are totally opposite (erosion in the badlands vs. periodic volcanic activity at Craters).
The campsite that we got (the only place I didn’t have reservations – they just don’t give them here) was phenomenal. It was gigantic for our car, picnic table, and tent, and it was completely suited to the monument/park area – a black almost-moonscape surrounded the entire site, and we had a good view off into the rest of the monument.
After we set up camp, we went on the 7 mile loop drive of the monument, taking several short hikes on the way. We had arrived fairly late, but I think we still got a good view of the monument despite the time constraints.
Oh – I should mention it feels weird to call this place a Monument. Really, this place should be a national park in my opinion, but apparently that requires an act of congress to accomplish, instead of an executive order like a monument. For now, we’ve only got the first here. In the eyes of the parks service, however, they’re treated exactly the same.
As part of the loop drive we wanted to visit some caves that are a part of the monument, but they were closed due to road work or something. We were sad, but we did get to climb this very short, steep trail to a hill that overlooked the entire area. We also got to see “snow cone” a volcanic splatter cone that manages to hold snow in the middle of the summer (where exterior surface temperatures in the area can reach in excess of 150°F.
After returning to the campsite we met a park ranger and went on a nature walk with a few other people – this guy continued to keep me impressed about the quality of the parks service rangers in general. In addition, we got some amazing sunset views. Quite worthwhile. Afterwards, we had tacos and chocolate éclairs for dinner to celebrate duckmonster’s last day on the trip. Tomorrow I trade her for krchicken in Salt Lake City.