Tuesday, December 30, 1997

Coyotes were loud early last night and sound a wakeup at 6AM first light. Must be camped close to a den. Stove fuel from first canister propane/butane is running out. The cold performance of these declines as the high vapor pressure compound becomes depleted first.

10:30 AM: Top of peak 5353. Desert pavement makes walking more difficult. One must always take care in planting the feet and this requires energy. Although one can go anywhere out here in the desert; even in the open country bushwacking extracts a price in time and energy. One should probably multiply times by two when converting from easy trail to cross-country travel. Also my light shoes are a trade-off. With the snow hiding some plants its difficult to avoid all thorns. Occasionally a thorn can penetrate lighter boots. Heavier boots will protect from this - but they are heavier.

There is a wonderful view from the top of the peak. Brew a feast of ramen noodles and green tea. Its beautiful and relatively calm. Change into shorts prior to starting down the mountain. Don't bother to melt snow. I can see there is still snow on the North sides of the cones lower down. Will now descend off the rounded topographic high. The general topographic high was formed when different lava flows coalesced. This is a beautiful peak and would love to spend the night here but must make more distance today.

Wonderful views of a peak that Arthur and I climbed last summer. It looks like it would have a crater but instead had a vent on the northeast side.

There are many varied shaped lava bombs on the south side of the peak - spectacular even by West Potrillo standards. At the bottom the rock colors change from the oxidized reddish brown to black. Pieces of Olivine xenoliths. They have a pretty green gem-like look to them. They have been carried up from the earth's mantle with the lava.

Coming up next minor peak are a series of small cliffs of spatter rim. The spatter rock forms when partially melted "blobs" of lava are thrown out and then stick partially together when solidifying. In places the 4-8 inch blobs stick together at the edges with gaps between them. When they land they stick together, but since they are partially hardened they retain much of their individual shapes. Sometimes there are gaps between the blobs (they only join at one spot) Other times the blobs are almost completely melted together. Since the process is highly variable many small caves form when the poorly attached portions erode out.

Strain a hamstring muscle slightly coming up the sixth crater rim. I guess this is where I'll camp tonight! Find a nice spot to camp. Seems I've dislocated a hawk that likes to soar here. Looks like it could rain tonight. Not probable but possible.

6 PM: It has gotten warmer each day and night just as the meteorologists had predicted. Also the camping spot is lower down now. Crater six is down off of the central plateau and not particularly tall as well. Camp in a nice stop behind some sputter rim out of the wind. Can see a beautiful new moon, just a sliver 20 degrees above the horizon as well as the earth light part. As Galileo observed the light travels from the sun to the lighted portion of the earth back to the night side of the moon then back to the night portion of the earth. Quite a journey! Probably won't have good stars tonight - too cloudy.

Soon after nightfall the wind changes directions from west to northeast. Now my site is exposed to the wind and its blowing much harder than ever on this trip. The good news is the clouds disappear and the milky way comes out in full splendor.