Nevada Here We Come – October 2019

Wednesday October 2: Clifford and I are leaving Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho this morning. We have been camped here for the last several days as we waited out the storm that descended on the northwest, but today looks like a good day to travel.

It is 26 degrees as I hike up the trail to the lava knoll and take a few photos at sunrise.

Lava knoll
Trail to Lava Knoll
Craters of the Moon at sunrise
Good-bye to campsite blossoms

Then we pack up and are on the road by 11:30, traveling US highway 93 through miles and miles of lava fields, which give way to farmland. After stopping for supplies and gas in Twin Falls, Idaho, we continue south into the more rugged Nevada landscape.

Our destination is Great Basin National Park, but today we are planning on stopping in Nevada at a wayside stop that we see on the map near Jackpot, Nevada. However, when we get there, we don’t see it, so we continue on, not knowing where we are going to spend the night. Eventually snow-clad mountains make an appearance in the distance.

Rugged Nevada landscape
Mountains in the distance

We watch for other wayside pull-outs and find a good one just before Wells, Nevada. We park and level Cougar, with a small stand of junipers making a buffer between us and the highway. We are pleased to find this relatively quiet and scenic place to spend the night. We even have cell service!

Wayside pull-out near Wells, Nevada
Scenic landscape

One More Day at Craters – October 2019

Tuesday October 1: It is 27 degrees this morning at Craters of the Moon National Monument where Clifford and I are camped. We had planned to leave this morning, but due to a forecast of possible snow flurries or freezing fog, our plans are changed. At first we consider leaving this afternoon, but with snow off and on this morning, we decide to stay.

Since we are here today, we take advantage of the opportunity for another outing. We drive to the spatter cones and take the short hike to look down into the gaping holes left by these eruptions.

Viewing platform at the spatter cones (did I mention it was chilly out?)

From there, we hike the trail that leads to the North Crater, but only go as far as Big Crater. One can only imagine the cataclysmic event that caused this caldera.

Trail to Big Crater and North Crater
Trail to Big Crater and North Crater
Looking down into Big Crater caldera
Expansive views of lava fields and cones

Then we stop at Inferno Cone, where I hike to the top while Clifford waits in the car. This turns out to be the best hike of all, as the top of the cone is flat with trees and shrubs and great long scenic views in all directions.

View from the top of Inferno Cone
Views from Inferno Cone
Old Grandmother of a tree alone on the top of Inferno Crater

Back at camp, we have chili for dinner and work on our projects: editing and journal writing for me, and Clifford is designing a program to model ionospheric propagation and ham radio communications. Snow flurries off and on remind us that we made a good decision to stay another day.

Chilly Day at Craters of the Moon – September 2019

Monday September 30: It is a chilly day at Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho where Clifford and I are camped. The storm we were staying ahead of caught up to us here yesterday with a skiff of snow and today the chilly temperatures remain: 26 degrees this morning, even though it is still September.

Views from the trail to the lava knoll

I go up to the lava knoll, but it must be too cold for my cell to work and no texts are sent. But I do take photos of the snow on the surrounding hills.

Snowy hills

We had planned to drive up to Stanley to explore the countryside, but after cleaning up mouse droppings (ugh!) and scouring pans and counters, we don’t have enough time for a drive. Instead, we walk over to the Visitors Center to watch a movie on Craters of the Moon. We see that this area does get a lot of snow in the winter.

Walk to the Visitors Center

We work on inside projects, and since Clifford was able to get his hotspot to work, we even get on the net for awhile to check email. I make another trip to the lava knoll just before sunset. Chilly, but the light is pretty.

Late afternoon hike to lava knoll
View from lava knoll

After dinner, I pack up the kitchen as much as possible, as we plan to leave in the morning. It has been fun here, but we want to get to Great Basin National Park before the weekend crowd arrives.

Skiff at Craters of the Moon – September 2019

Sunday September 29: Not only can I smell snow, I can see the snow this morning at Craters of the Moon National Monument in southern Idaho, where Clifford and I are camped. It is only a skiff, but foggy, which seems strange as there are no streams or rivers nearby. I dress warmly before walking to the restroom and then hiking up to the lava knoll where I can get cell service to send a text or two. Mostly I am excited to take a few photos in the misty ambiance.

Trail to the lava knoll
Trail to the lava knoll
Views from the trail to the lava knoll
Views from the trail to the lava knoll
Lone tree on the lava knoll
The wind picks up…
…and the fog deepens
Nearing the campsite

Today is mostly a day of inside activities, being too chilly to be outside with the heavy overcast and wind.

A good day for inside activities

A Day at Craters of the Moon – September 2019

Saturday September 28: When I open the door this morning, I smell snow. I don’t see snow, but I know it is not far away. I hike to the top of a knoll on the trail that goes past the amphitheater to the North Crater Flow Trail where we hiked yesterday. From that knoll, one can get enough cell signal to send a text, or even a photo now and then.

Heading to the knoll

Rain starts at midday, so activities are mostly indoors. For me: journaling, blog writing, and editing Regent’s Way, the next book in a great epic fantasy series by an author whom I know. Clifford gets his ham radio set up. His phone has better cell reception than mine, so his hotspot works intermittently and he is able to take care of some of his projects using the net.

Raining at Craters of the Moon

In the afternoon, the rain lets up and the sun comes out, so we drive the loop again and I take more photos.

Scenic Loop
Scenic Loop
Scenic Loop
Scenic Loop

Back at camp, before starting dinner, I hike up to the top of the knoll again as the light is really looking good to me. As I walk back to the campsite, the daylight ends with a striking sunset.

Hiking to the knoll
Sunset at Craters of the Moon

In the evening, Clifford starts the generator and we have power for lights and for charging our devices, which allows us to carry on with our projects. We are very fortunate, as we see neighbors in tents who turn in early to escape the dark and the chill of the night.

Craters of the Moon – September 2019

Friday September 27: It is 35 degrees this morning at the McFarland BLM Campground where Clifford and I spent the night on our way to Craters of the Moon National Monument in south central Idaho. Since we didn’t unhitch last night, it doesn’t take long for us to be packed up and ready to go this morning.

Dawn color at McFarland BLM Campground

The valley widens, the road is flat and straight, some of our easiest traveling ever.

Highway 28 southern Idaho landscape
Highway 28 southern Idaho landscape
Highway 28 southern Idaho landscape

We arrive at Craters of the Moon about noon and find that the sites are small, very close together, and most are designed for tents or small rigs. In spite of this, we find a nice pull-through spot with our own little ravine and lava piles that will provide a little privacy from nearby neighbors.

A pull-thru site with our own little ravine

After we get set up, we drive the scenic loop, stopping at a couple pull-outs to hike a bit.

North Crater Flow Trail
Rugged landscape
Devil’s Orchard Trail

We plan to explore a bit more another day, but for now, Clifford needs to nap after the drive, and I settle in to do some editing until the laptop battery runs out. After dinner I have time to write in the journal before starting the bedtime routine.

We are happy to have arrived and to have found a nice spot where we can hole up if the storm catches up to us.