Haleakala On Horseback

On horses at the bottom of Haleakala's crater.

There is something inspiring about a sunrise. The golden rays herald in a new day full of hopes and adventures. No two sunrises are ever the same. Watching the golden sunrise over Haleakala’s expansive crater was a sight unlike any other. As the sun rose higher into the eastern sky and began to burn off the clouds that had settled in the crater, the spirit of adventure set in and we were anxious to explore more of Maui’s biggest volcano: Haleakala.

Read More

Haleakala Sunrise

Sunrise from Haleakala's summit

The night is as black as pitch as we tiptoe out of our condo and start the car. Stars glitter in the darkness overhead and the arm of the Milky Way stretches from one side of the island of Maui to the other. The silhouette of Haleakala volcano, a shadow in the night, towers 10,000 feet above us. 

We navigate through towns that are dark and still at two in the morning. Catching Route 378, we begin the slow drive up the side of the volcano. A cow, roaming free, appears in the headlights and then vanishes just as quickly. A pu’eo swoops down and snatches something off of the highway and flies away into the dark. The narrow beam of our headlights gives us hints at our surroundings, but we can see nothing.

Read More

What Is The Most Scared You’ve Ever Been?

Climbing Mount St. Helens

Since it’s Nothing to Fear Day, I’ll answer one of my most frequently asked questions: “What is the most scared you’ve ever been while out volcano hopping?” 😱

While there’s always a risk with volcanoes, I’m constantly keeping my eyes and ears open. And I never turn my back on the lava. To this point, I’ve never been really afraid on a volcano. Do I have a healthy respect for them? Absolutely! And nothing gets your heart pounding more than looking down and seeing a river of lava running a couple feet beneath your boots when you didn’t exactly expect it to be there.

Read More

Looking Back at Mount St. Helens’ 1980 Eruption

Memorial at Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens is one of the most fiesty volcanoes on the planet. It is certainly one of the most active volcanoes in the United States. Situated in Washington’s Cascade Range, this stratovolcano is known for its explosive and frequent eruptions. Mount St. Helens has produced lava flows, towering lava domes, and erupted roiling ash clouds and pyroclastic density currents. Out of all of Mount St. Helens’ eruptions, one event in particular has branded itself into our memories: the eruption on May 18, 1980.

May 18, 1980

It was a quiet and sunny Sunday morning in Washington. Birds were singing in the thick forest and trout were splashing in the Toutle River. Elk roamed through the underbrush. And Mount St. Helens conical peak dominated the landscape.

Since March 1980, frequent earthquakes had rattled the volcano and surrounding landscape. Several small eruptions of gas and ash had occurred at the summit in recent weeks. More startling was the way Mount St. Helens had begun to deform. A tremendous bulge had formed under the north slope of the mountain in a matter of weeks.

Scientists and local government officials had never seen anything quiet like it. They understood that Mount St. Helens was active, but the last eruption had been in 1857. No one alive had witnessed the potential power behind the volcano. They frantically studied the mountain and try to predict what type of eruption the volcano would produce – and when.

Read More

The View From Mount St. Helens’ Summit

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the May 18, 1980 eruption at Mount St. Helens. Just a few months shy of the anniversary, we visited the volcano and climbed to the summit to check out the views. We could clearly see and smell the steaming lava dome, witnessed rockfalls in the crater, and had a stunning view of the blast zone and Spirit Lake to the North. Mount Rainier and Mount Adams also made an appearance on the horizon.

Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved.

Loved this post? Share it!

Thursday Thoughts: Potential Hazards From Future Eruptions of Mount St. Helens Volcano

With the 40th anniversary of Mount St. Helens’ 1980 eruption just a few weeks away, I have been reading up on the volcano’s history. In 1978, Rocky Crandall and Donal Mullineaux wrote this fantastic paper after years of studying the volcano.

It’s fascinating to read the research from before the 1980 eruption changed our perspective and what we know about Mount St. Helens and composite volcanic eruptions. Join me as I read a few excerpts from the paper and share a few thoughts on Mount St. Helens.

Want to read the whole paper? You can find it here.

Craving a Mount St. Helens adventure? Check out all of our adventure to the volcano here.

Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved.

Exploring Wheeler Geologic Area

Five of Us At Wheeler Geologic Area

Wheeler Geologic Area was created from the fallout of Earth’s largest explosive eruption. When La Garita Caldera exploded millennia ago, it deposited 1,200 cubic meters of volcanic material throughout the state of Colorado. The Fish Canyon Tuff, as it has come to be known, can most easily be seen here at Wheeler Geologic Area. Nestled deep in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, the tuff here has been well preserved over the years due to the surrounding valley. Wind and water have weathered the tuff over time, sculpting a dramatic landscape of spires. 

Not very many visitors brave the 14-mile service road or 16-mile hike through the volcanic landscape. We not only love to explore volcanoes, but we love to discover the side of them that many people don’t get to see. Five of us began our hike at dawn from Hanson’s Mill, through thick forest and over age-old lava flows. (Catch up on the first part of our adventure here.) With the first stretch of our journey under our belts, we set off to explore the tuff formations at Wheeler Geologic Area.

Dragon’s Eggs

The trail rose steeply as we entered the 640-acre geologic area. Eroded tuff and ash covered the trail. It making it as slippery as a sand dune in places. Forest and foliage had taken root in the ashy soil and pines towered high above our heads. A creek bubbled across the trail and we hopped it, heading deeper into the monument.

Read More

Thursday Thoughts – Update From Base Camp

Here is the latest update from Base Camp. We’re wondering how you are doing and holding up during this unique time, and are discussing what we are up to under quarantine. The answer? A new novel is in the works! Here’s some insight into what the writing process has been like for the first few chapters.

Also, we are working on a series about the enormous La Garita eruption and our adventures exploring the caldera and Wheeler Geologic Area. Be sure to look back through our adventure blog to catch up on the articles in this series!

Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved.

One “Tuff” Hike – The Trail to Wheeler Geologic Area

Volcano Hopper Team by a river

After discovering that the La Garita eruption – the largest explosive eruption in the history of the Earth – was essentially in my own backyard, I had to explore it. The caldera itself is massive, well over a thousand square miles. It would take me years to explore it all on foot. For now, I decided to focus in on one of the most obvious traces of the ancient eruption: Wheeler Geologic Area. 

Wheeler Geologic Area is tucked away deep in the La Garita Wilderness in southwestern Colorado. When La Garita erupted, huge amounts of ash and pyroclasts fell out here. The heavy ash compressed together and became volcanic tuff. Now named the Fish Canyon Tuff, Wheeler has been well protected over the millennia by the deep valley where it fell. Erosion has carved away at the tuff deposit over the years, leaving spectacular formations of gray and white behind.

Exploring a tiny section of Wheeler Geologic Area
Exploring a tiny section of Wheeler Geologic Area

We had tried to plan our adventure to Wheeler Geologic Area for several years after I discovered the existence of La Garita. Monsoon rains and raging wildfires kept us from making the trek until, in 2017, we got our chance. The hike to and from Wheeler Geologic area is a long 8 miles; 16 round trip. But the views and volcanic formations that we saw along the way were absolutely worth it, even if it was one “tuff” hike.

Read More

Thursday Thoughts – International Day of Volcanoes

For today’s Thursday Thoughts, I’ll give an update from Base Camp. We will also discuss last week’s International Day of Volcanoes and the volcanoes that chose to erupt on that day to celebrate!

If you’d like to read the article I mention in the video (about why we should celebrate volcanoes) you can read it here.

Happy Hopping!

Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved.