Adventure Blog

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: Potential Hazards From Future Eruptions of Mount St. Helens…

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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.

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For today’s Thursday Thoughts, 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…

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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.

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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 mentioned in the video, read it here. Happy Hopping! Copyright…

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Wheeler Geologic Area

As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to have a volcano or two within exploring distance. Given that I was 8 years old and couldn’t drive, that distance was about five miles. My friends and I used to make up stories that the nearby mountains were volcanoes and could erupt at any moment just to sate our sense of adventure. As far as we knew, the only volcanoes in the United States were Yellowstone, in Hawaii, or along the West Coast. The rest of the world’s volcanoes were in far off, exotic places like Japan or Iceland. Little did we know that real volcanoes were closer to home than we ever imagined – including the most explosive and epic eruption in Earth’s history: La Garita.

The San Juan Volcanic Field

La Garita Caldera sits in the middle of Colorado’s San Juan Volcanic Field. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the volcanic field was once extremely active. Two continental plates once collided here and caused the ground to fracture and faults to form. These faults allowed heated magma from the Earth’s mantle to rise and pool in massive magma chambers beneath the crust. The results were often explosive.

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Saying hello, wondering how you all are, and updating you on the latest happenings at Base Camp during social distancing. Copyright © 2020 Volcano Hopper. All rights reserved. **Disclaimer: Please use extreme caution when hiking on any volcano, particularly near active lava, or eruption sites. Volcanoes are extremely unpredictable and…

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Woman Standing Alone On Volcano

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has hit the world hard over the last several months. Social distancing, quarantines, and lack of food and supplies has suddenly become a real thing for all of us. And it’s something that we are all in together.  

Many of us, including myself, have been working from home for well over a week now. (Shout out to all the medical teams, law enforcement, grocers, and delivery drivers who are on the front lines trying to keep us safe, healthy, and supplied!) Kids are home from school and all activities are cancelled. It’s been creating a lot of time together in close quarters and the cabin fever is just starting.

With spring here and warm weather just around the corner, I am definitely itching to get outside and explore a volcano. With travel restrictions and many closures in place, most volcanoes in the world are currently out of reach. So how do people like you and me get our volcano fix while we’re all hanging out at home?  

Here is a list of 10 volcanic boredom busters that you (and your kids!) can do to get your volcano fix and stave off the cabin fever:

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Whakaari volcano

It was a warm and beautiful December morning. The South Pacific’s waves reflected the vibrant blue sky and lapped steadily at the sides of the tour boats. The boats, operated by a handful of tour companies, skimmed across the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s north shore. 30 miles (48 km) offshore sat the steaming, rumbling stratovolcano known as Whakaari.

 The tours to the volcano were on time, the boats fueled, snacks provided. People packed onto the boats for their expedition to the active volcano. The visitors’ shoes crunched against the gray ash and tephra as they hiked through the volcano’s water-filled crater. Steam curled up from steep crater walls streaked white and yellow from sulfur. Hot gas roared from fumaroles like a jet engine. As the tourists began to board their boats to head back to shore, they had no idea how many lives were about to be changed. Whakaari was about to show the world just how wild she really is. 

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Keeping a safe distance from an active volcano

Every few years, there is a volcanic eruption that takes the lives of innocent bystanders.  The loss of human life is heartbreaking. While most volcanoes show us warning signs before they erupt, it is impossible to predict the exact date and time that an eruption will occur.  The results can be tragic.  The loss of life has caused for some people to call for a ban on public access to all active volcanoes worldwide.

After the Whakaari (White Island) eruption claimed 21 lives in December 2019, the cry to ban active volcanoes from the public became louder than ever.  Advocates for the ban claim that if no one can approach an active volcano, then the death toll will be zero.  Is it possible to ban the public from all active volcanoes? Should active volcanoes be banned at all?

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