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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Death Valley - Ubehebe Crater

Hi Blog!

There are so many things to see in Death Valley. It is impossible to see them all in one visit. We had to make choices. We had driven by Ubehebe Crater on our way back from the Racetrack. We had so wanted to walk to the bottom of the crater, but we just didn't have enough daylight, so we decided to make another trip out Scotty's Castle Road and make a day of it.

The crater is half a mile wide and 500 to 777 feet deep. The age of the crater is estimated from 2,000 to 7,000 years old, which makes it exceedingly young and meant that we could see lots of evidence of the eruptions. Here is our first look down into the abyss.

The crater was formed when this area was volcanically active. Magma was moving towards the surface, and it might have erupted and formed a volcano or a cinder cone, but it encountered groundwater along the way. The hot magma superheated the groundwater, converting it to steam, and blew one giant hole and several smaller holes in the ground. Here Kathy begins the hike up around the rim of the crater.

The trail was pretty narrow in a few places.

The smaller explosions left smaller craters.

Bigger explosions left bigger craters!

Rain and wind weather the sides of the craters filling in the bottom with gravel and sand. Kathy volunteered to stand in the middle of the crater for scale.

Here is our first look down into Little Hebe Crater.

Little Hebe is a spatter cone that grew in the middle of one of the largest maars in the south group. The only significant deposit of lava in the volcanic field is contained in Little Hebe. Here Kathy holds a very lightweight cinder, full of gas holes.

Here you can see the 1/2 mile trail that winds its way around Little Hebe.

You need to hike away from the crater in order to see what is left of Little Hebe's spatter cone shape.

After working our way all the way around Ubehebe and Little Hebe, we reached the trailhead to the bottom of Ubehebe Crater (more affectionally known by us as Boobyhead Crater). It only took 10 minutes to shuss our way down the loose gravel trail. It was at least 10 degrees warmer inside the crater since very little wind makes it to the bottom. Here Kathy converts her hiking pants into hiking shorts to cool down!

Yeah! We made it to the bottom of the cater. Let's celebrate with a selfie!

If you would like to see what we saw, then click the link to the video: 360-degree view from the crater floor.

It was a slow steady slog up the loose gravel trail. We used a lot of the techniques we learned in snowshoeing - take turns breaking trail, step into the other's footsteps, use your rest step, take breaks and stay hydrated. The 10 minute trip down took 20 minutes on the way back up! However, the change in perspective was well worth the effort.

Strange things cross your mind when you are hiking in the desert sun. Just saying the name Ubehebe, Ubehebe, Ubehebe conjures up dancing babies.

I can't stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Girl, you just don't realize
What you do to me

When you hold me
In your arms so tight
You let me know
Everything's alright

I'm hooked on a feeling
I'm high on believing
That you're in love with me

Goodbye Boobyhead Crater!

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