On the morning of November 28, Susan and I drove through a pretty steady drizzle from Mesquite Springs campground to Ubehebe Crater, which is next to the road to Racetrack Playa, with long-wanted plans for me to bike its 26-plus miles of washboarded badness while Susan drove it.
Arriving at the crater we were confronted by cold and wind and the reality that the storm that had done not much more than sprinkle us on its outskirts was pretty much parked over the valley the racetrack road traversed, leaving the bracketing mountainsides nicely blanketed with snow, and me realizing the long and the cold and wet haul getting from the crater potentially above the snow line and down to the playa would be seriously lacking in The Fun.
So I climbed along the lip of the crater, grim and gruff and bummed that the challenge that initially drew me to this wonderful place back in the winter of 2002 would go postponed once more… to be done either next spring or fall under what I hope will be less meteorologically challenging conditions and thus more with The Fun.
Turning around to head back down to the camper, the sun peeked out from a break in the clouds, and in a heartbeat my camera was out to capture what I expected to be a brief illumination. It lingered a little longer than expected and I was able to end up with a rough three frames that allowed me to show you the whole 2,000-year-old hole:
Ubehebe Crater is 600 feet deep and half a mile across. Known as a maar volcano, the crater is estimated to be between 2,000 to 7,000 years old, and was created by steam and gas explosions when hot magma rose up from the depths until it reached ground water. The intense heat flashed the water into steam which expanded until the pressure was released as a tremendous hydrovolcanic eruption.