Truth be told, I'm not enthusiastic about this walk. My feet are killing me and I'm tired. Susan has done this walk before and says she remembers that this is an easy, paved, flat walk around the rim of the crater.
We arrive at the Capulin Visitor Center at 8:29 a.m. No one is around. The Visitor Center is closed for remodeling and there is a temporary hut set up where we can pay and check into the park. The sign on the door of the hut says they open at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. Alrighty then, we'll just settle in an read for a half hour.
Cars, vans, and trucks arrive in droves between 8:30-9:00 a.m. Boy Scouts and their leaders pile out of the vans. Everyone is standing around waiting for the temporary Visitor Center to open.
Since we were the first vehicle there, I walked to the door of the hut. I talked to some of the ladies. The Boy Scouts are starting a week-long camping trip and their first stop is Capulin Volcano.
I picked up a park brochure and would like to share a little bit about the volcano itself:
"The Capulin volcano erupted into existence 60,000 years ago. Firework-like rooster tails of glowing, super-heated lava spewed high in the sky, solidified, and dropped back to Earth. The falling debris accumulated around the vent, forming a cinder cone volcano.
"Capulin's birth occurred toward the end of a period of regional volcanism that began 9 million years ago. You can see hills, peaks, and other formations from this period throughout the 8,000-square-mile Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field...
"The cone is chiefly loose cinders, ash, and other rock debris formed by gaseous lava that cooled quickly. The volcano's symmetry was preserved because later lava flows did not come from the main crater but from its boca (Spanish for mouth), at the cone's western base."
|"It's flat," she said. Now tell me,|
does the top of that cinder cone look flat to you?
After we checked in at the Visitor Center and picked up our walk instructions, we hopped in the van and headed up the road to the top of the cinder cone. "The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round." And the van went 'round and 'round, and up and up 1,300 feet from the floor of the surrounding plains. Going up, we were on the side looking straight down...no guardrails in sight. Luckily, no one was coming down yet.
When we reached the small parking lot at the trailhead, we saw an elevation sign:
|Yes, you read that right: 7,877 ft.|
We fuel up with a few handfuls of trail mix, put on hats, sunscreen, and take our hiking poles with us. We walk around the corner to head up the trail and there's a chain with a sign that says, "Trail Closed." What? No way.
Just let me say that when you're with a group that includes Boy Scouts, Scout leaders, retired military, worrywarts, etc., you do not just cross the chain. Oh, no. Mustn't break the rules.
In case you're wondering who the worrywart is, that would be me. My brain goes crazy wondering why the trail would be closed. Perhaps the trail collapsed and the hiking is dangerous, maybe there's a nest of rattlesnakes, and maybe, just maybe, they forgot to tell us in the Visitor Center.
Then a thought crossed my mind, "We have a brochure, maybe there's a phone number that we can call to find out." Sure enough, there was a phone number to the temporary hut. Darren placed the call while a bunch of us stood around wondering why they didn't tell us the trail was closed before we all drove up there.
When he hung up, he said, "They forgot to remove the chain. The trail is open." Thankfully, there was no lock on the chain and we were able to hike the Crater Rim Trail.
The trail was steep up from the parking lot. I was huffing and puffing within 200 feet. The views were spectacular so after a brief rest, I pushed on to try to catch up with Darren and Susan.
|Looking out over ancient lava flows|
|Lava-capped mesas to the northwest|
|Rabbit Ear Mountain|
|Susan waiting...for a moment|
|Here you can see the Crater Rim Trail is not flat|
|Susan and Darren charging on ahead.|
|Unknown (to me) wildflower|
|Sierra Grande, an extinct volcano rising|
2,200 feet above the plain (10 miles from Capulin)
|Looking down into the crater and at parking|
|Susan and Darren are up ahead on the trail|
|Proof I made it to the top|
|We had perfect weather for long-range views.|
|Different colors of lichen|
|Lichen are fascinating!|
Next, we'll hike 105 feet down into the crater on the Crater Vent Trail.
|Down into the crater we go|
|Down by the blocked vent|
In Amarillo, we checked into our motel rooms and waited until early evening to do the 5k Amarillo Volksmarch. Darren swam some laps in the pool in the hottest part of the afternoon.
We had agreed to meet up for the walk at 7:00 p.m. I went to their room at 7:00 p.m., but they weren't ready to go. During our drive today we had a time change and they thought it was only 6:00 p.m. They would come to my door when they were ready.
The walk started in the heart of downtown Amarillo and we had to drive a few miles to get there. We parked in a lot near a bar and a restaurant. It was Sunday so downtown was like a ghost town.
The first part of the walk was okay. A number of old, interesting buildings were on our route. An interesting fact I learned from one of the history markers is that from 1892 to 1897 Amarillo was the largest rural shipping point for cattle in the nation.
|"The Heart of Amarillo" - see photo explanation below|
Potter County Courthouse (in the two photos below), is the fifth and final iteration of courthouses in Amarillo, Texas. In the 1920s there was an oil boom in the Texas panhandle. At that time, Amarillo's population tripled, business increased, and eight skyscrapers were added to downtown. This "new" courthouse was built in 1930-1932. More than 500 laborers, local residents of Potter County, applied for work on this job.
Old Art Deco buildings are pretty cool. I love the detail work in the concrete. On Potter County Courthouse below, I was particularly taken by the longhorn hiding behind the entry light. I took a close-up of it below so you can get a better look.
|Potter County Courthouse|
|Longhorn detail - Potter County Courthouse|
|Globe-News Center in Amarillo, Texas|
|"Madam Queen" - No. 5000|
|One of the world's largest steam locomotives|
|Formerly Santa Fe's Railroad Station|
|To infinity and beyond. R.I.P. Rick Husband|
|Amarillo National Bank|
In addition to that, a street sweeper machine came along late that Sunday afternoon blowing a wall of dust toward us. We hurriedly walked in an alley over to a different street so we wouldn't be covered in all that dirt. I started sneezing violently and we were at least 1/2 block away from it.
|Cute use of painted bicycle rims|
|Historic Santa Fe Railway Building|
|Pointed arch - Fisk Medical Arts Building|
Gothic Revival architecture
(now a Courtyard by Marriott)
|Formerly Fisk Medical Arts Building|
It will be nice to be home with Bob. I missed him on this trip and wished he could have shared it with us.
Thank you for following along. My next Volksmarch driving trip with Susan and Darren will be in August to Grand Island, Nebraska, for a five-walk weekend centering around eclipse events. Stay tuned, there's lots more stories coming your way.