Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pahvant Butte volcano

I was reading up on volcanic activity in Utah on this site (great site, by the way) and discovered that there are several volcanoes (relatively) close by, in the Black Rock Desert. We set off to see what we could discover, armed with not much information. We hoped we would recognize what we saw, since there are no state parks or informational signs in this area. We looked first for Pahvant Butte, which was a volcano that erupted within Lake Bonneville. It was quite easy to recognize, with its distinctive (and large) eruption crater on top! It must have really blasted out with a lot of force, like Mount St. Helens!
On the way we passed this small cinder cone, which I think is the one called Tabernacle Hill? We wanted to go explore it also, but, as you will see, circumstances did not allow this. (*Ominous music*)

We also passed this very cute mother cow and her calf.

As we got closer we began to see lots of lava flows and lava rock scattered around everywhere! It was really interesting to see the way it extended from the volcano. Several places looked like they contained projectiles (lava bombs) from the volcano. We had read that there would be pahoehoe lava flows, but we didn't find anything that looked exactly right.

The layering in the volcano was quite fascinating!

But its most distinctive feature is called the "lace curtain." Because this volcano erupted in the lake, it was subject to wave erosion. This north side in particular was hit with heavy storm waves, and they carved out the rock in these strangely delicate, lace-like formations. There are all sorts of holes and crevices to climb around in, and the sheer scale of the formation is amazing---there are tremendously tall cliffs, all carved out in this intricate way. It is beautiful! We can't believe there isn't a state landmark or some sort of . . . something . . . to draw attention to this place!

More of the lace curtain:
Isn't it amazing?
Up close, it was even more interesting---so many fascinating little holes to explore!

I should perhaps have mentioned that this place is out in the middle of nowhere. Really. There was nothing, nothing, nothing around, as you can see:
As we drove up to the butte, we were on a dirt road, but it was well-maintained and we had no trouble on it. The road branched several times and we didn't really know where to go, so we headed up as close to the volcano as we could get, and eventually the road became too bumpy for our car, so we stopped to get out and hike. Sam decided to turn the car around so we'd be ready to go. It was a one-lane road and as he tried to turn, he had to leave the road, which was a mistake. The ground was really sandy and the tires sank in almost immediately! We pushed and pushed (Sam and Abe and Seb, while I tried to steer) but we couldn't budge the car one inch. It was awful. But thank goodness we had our phones, and cell phone service! We would otherwise have had to walk the 20 miles or so to the nearest town . . . such an awful thought. We were able to look up a towing place in Fillmore and find someone there on a Saturday. We tried to describe where we were, which was difficult.

So, that was stressful. Sam and I both felt bad that we hadn't done . . . something different (backed the car up instead of turning around?) and we were worried that the tow truck wouldn't be able to find us. But on the upside, it gave a long time to hike around and explore the area. We luckily had some apples in the car (we had certainly not planned to be out this long!), so we gave everyone some fuel and continued the adventure!
Can you find the intrepid explorers in this picture?

Our hero, the tow truck driver, finally found us after much phoning back and forth. The sun was just starting to set and I was praying my heartfelt thanks (again!) that this whole thing hadn't turned out so much worse. What if we'd had to try to get out of here in the dark?!

The children would have been happy to stay forever and play in the dirt. It was a great place to play!

The sunset light was very beautiful:

And the children were beside themselves to get to see a real tow truck in action! It was so exciting!
And we're out! Abe checks out the cavernous hole our car was in. (Our engine was resting on the ground. That sand was deep!)
We got on our way as the sun went down over the desert.
So beautiful! And we were so grateful that our car was okay (once it was out of that hole) and that we had the nice tow-truck man to lead us back to civilization!
And the full moon was coming up over the volcano.
One last look back at Pahvant Butte---you can really see the blast crater clearly from this angle.

And that was our fun and eventful trip to the Black Rock desert! We hope to return someday to explore some of the other geologic sites here, including lava tubes and several other volcanic landforms!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an adventure! Thanks for sharing your story. We will definitely have to go back to check out the lace curtains.


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