My hike for August 10 was a visit to Lava Falls. This is a 1.2 mile loop into the lava beds at El Malpais.
Was I going to do it barefoot? What do you think?
This first picture will give you an idea of what the trail looked like.
That lava is around 3,000 years old (the youngest at El Malpais). A lot of the lava here seemed to of the sort called a’a. The word, which is Hawaiian, supposedly comes from the sound you make when you walk on it barefoot.
I have to admit that it was a bit pointy.
When lava cools, it often cracks, so there were a lot of cracks like this one.
There are also areas where the lava sinks as it cools, leaving these flow depressions.
You can see one behind me.
The official map shows the trail marked by cairns. (Cairns are a very western thing for marking trails—you just cannot count on trees as you can in the east.)
I was hoping that the cairns were spaced a bit closer than showed on the map. They were.
Here’s one of the places that gives Lava Falls its name. That’s pillow lava and it clearly flowed smoothly.
At the far end of the hike is a natural amphitheater. I have the shots to make a good panoramic, but am lacking the software to put it together.
UPDATED: Since getting home, I have access to my panorama-making software again, so here’s the panoramic shot looking into the amphitheater.
[Click for the big version!]
And here’s what it looks like from the middle of the amphitheater looking out the entrance.
The higher parts of the amphitheater were caused by gases rising in the lava “dough”.
While there isn’t a lot of life there, there were plenty of this kind of flower (which is next to a stunted pine).
Nearing the parking lot at the end of the hike gives a good view to the east, back where the sandstone bluffs and mesas are.
I made it back to the lot in one piece. And how did my feet do? I’ll let you be the judge.
Actually, my soles were a bit tender at that point. A mile and a half on little tiny points adds up. (Of course, the guide books say that the lava can shred shoes. Fortunately, my feet can’t read.)
One other thing: the lava was a bit hot, though there were clouds in the sky ameliorating that. I tested some of the lava. When I ended my hike, the lava on the edge was at 130°. Then as the sun came out that rose to around 140°, but it was still a bit hazy.
So those temperatures can easily be handled by bare feet.