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| Axel Heller | Trip Reports

2020 - Trip Report - How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

by Axel Heller

My summer excursion started mid-August, but not as planned. Friends bailed out mid-April, and I did the first half as we planned it and modified the last week. This is part one of this two week excursion.

My first stop was the Minidoka Interment camp for the Japanese “citizens” from 1942 to 1945, located in Idaho. This camp was just one of tencamps located in the US. Population was about 10,000 displaced Japanese. There were major differences in construction when compared to Manzanar just south of Lone Pine. The buildings were raised floors, and the outside walls were secured only with black tar paper with no insulation to the outside (brrr).

The visitor center is so new it hasn’t been completed.

They plan for it to open next year.

The guard tower was reconstructed in 2014. The remains of the foundation of the entrance building for visitors and the guard 

shack are about the only “true remnants” left of the camp.

Craters of the Moon National Monument is an area of extremely condensed volcanic activity. Being familiar with the volcanic activity in Inyo and San Bernardino Counties, this National Monument is located between the Cascades and Yellowstone.

The Shosone Indians would migrate across the lava fields along with the pronghorn antelope. Settlers going west cut a trail through the lava fields in the north to avoid the Indian attacks along the Oregon Trail. It was not used as often as there just wasn’t any surface water for the wagon trains.

The Devils Orchard is named because a minister going through the area was said to say “only the devil could create such a landscape.” Temperatures have been recorded as high as 150 degrees on the lava beds (enough to melt your shoes?) Many of the areas, mostly the caves, were closed due to instability from earthquakes in the regions since March.

There are several Kipukas (Hawaiian word), Islands of Life throughout the Monument. These areas were bypassed by the flows and showed the scientists what kind of flora existed over 2,000 years ago in this area, from grasses to dwarf buckwheat, limber pine, bitterroot, monkey flower and sagebrush among others. Lichen was one of the first plants growing breaking down the lava into soil.

One particular vent/cone was called the Sno Cone. This cone actually had snow inside despite it being in the middle of August in the desert heat.

Apollo 14 to Apollo 17 Astronauts trained here as they were all to land on the moon in volcanic areas of the moon. They learned what type of rock specimens to choose to best help the scientific community to understand the moon’s formation.

That’s it for now, next month the Tetons and Yellowstone. ~ Axel