Thursday, March 26, 2009

House Mountain Volcano with the Sedona Westerners

On March 25 the wind stopped blowing enough in northern Arizona so that 14 individuals plus myself ventured 3 miles on the Turkey Tank Trail to the top of the House Mountain volcano. This Miocene age (15 to 13 Ma) shield is "Sedona's volcano". I completed my Master's degree by completing a 75 square mile geologic map centered around the vent. It was an awesome project that yielded great rewards. Now, 21 years later, I still lead interested folks up to the crater and we discuss the geologic history along the way. Joan Steninger served as my "sweep" on the hike and provided me with these three pictures from our wonderful day! Thank you for the use of your photos Joan!

Here I am showing off the map that I completed back in 1988. It is vividly colored for a former museum exposition and these are not the normal colors that geologists use to portray rock outcrops. It does however, clearly show the central vent in the center of the map as a heart-shaped orange object. It's actually about a mile across in diameter on the landscape.

Here I am showing the group a stack of agglutinate scoria. What is agglutinate you ask? When House Mountain first erupted, the lave was highly charged with gas and so the lava blobs were thrown into the air as volcanic bombs. When these hit the ground they were still quite hot and they splattered on one another forming agglutinate. I had never noticed this particular outcrop close to where I always have lunch with geology groups and it just shows that even the "experts" are learning all of the time.

Our group is getting ready for lunch on the summit of House Mountain. Notice the red scoria (cinders) on the ground. After my thesis was completed, one of my advisors became so curious about this volcano that he undertook his own studies of the chemistry of the lava's. He discerned that when House Mountain first erupted, it built a cinder cone that was later buried by shield lava's. These outcrops here are from the early cinder cone.

I took a number of new photo's of rock samples on this hike and will use them in the new third edition of Sedona Through Time when it comes out at the end of this year!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hermit Loop Hike in the Grand Canyon

At the last second, I decided not to bring my camera on this hike. The opportunity to keep my backpack at slightly less than 30 lbs. for a five day hike was just too great of a temptation and that opportunity might not present itself again. I jumped on it and thus, there are no photo's. Who knows, maybe Frank will send me some picture's that he took and I can post them here.

It was an unusual hike in some respects - only one client with two guides. Perhaps a sign of the times but who knows. Andreas from Austria was a great trail partner and the weather was absolutely perfect. 70 or 80 degree days and 50 degree nights. Two nights in Monument Creek allowed us to explore little visited areas in and around The Abyss.

Andreas summed it all up pretty well as he and I sat on the edge of the canyon after finishing the hike. In his slightly toned German accent he casually mentioned, "What a nice little valley you have here." It was a purposely understated comment that we both chuckled at.

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Hike of the Season - The Hermit Trail

Next Monday, March 16 begins the new hiking season for me. It's a 5 day backpack with the Grand Canyon Field Institute. The first day is in the classroom learning all the basics. Then on Tuesday, we'll descend 8 miles down the trail to Hermit Creek. It will be a full day and at the end of it, everyone will believe in gravity. Wednesday will include a 4.5 mile hike over to Monument Creek where we'll lay over on Thursday for some hiking without our backpacks. Friday will be a 10-mile day hiking across the Tonto Platform to Indian Gardens, our last nights camp. And then on Sunday we'll make the 4.5 mile trip to the Grand Canyon Village.

Alas, there is no internet in the canyon ans that is why this preview is being typed now. The season begins!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Success on the Three State Book Tour!

My three state book tour is now complete and it was a rousing success. Over 210 people showed up at three different lecture venues to hear the story of the "Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau". A lot of positive exposure was generated on the trip for this new book. And I met some great people along the way who love to look at landscapes too.

The weather was perfect the whole way. And we will get a lot of use out of that southwestern cookbook we bought at the Back of Beyond bookstore in Moab. Thank you for looking at this blog of our trip. Watch here for other interesting entries in the month of march.

The Drive of Laccoliths

Okay. What is a laccolith? It is a mushroom shaped intrusion now exposed as snowed covered mountains in the area of southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. They were formed about 20 to 30 million years ago and as Helen and I made our way from Durango to Moab, we passed some real gems.

The Sleeping Ute Mountain or laccolith, located near Cortez, Colorado. Can you see the sleeping Ute with his headdress and arms folded across his chest?

The Abajo or Blue Mountains laccolith near Monticello, Utah

The La Sal Mountain laccolith near Moab, Utah