Not just another Volcano

Up in the northern part of New Mexico, one is immediately struck by the flatness and treelessness of the landscape, which is populated by an occasional mountain. As I went to visit Capulin Volcano National Monument, I passed the cows and the horses grazing openly in the fields and wandering onto the roads without restraint.

These would be followed by herds of antelope or mule deer, the occasional wild turkey, cotton-tailed rabbit, and other birds.

Arriving at the monument, I would climb the 1000 foot elevation and 2 mile road to the volcano rim by foot with Scottie, pausing to taste some flavorful berries along the path.

We circled the volcano rim, and descended into the mouth of the volcano (this is apparently one of the few places in the world where one can do this).

Inside the volcano, both Scottie and I observed the gophers that blend in so well with the lava that they are barely discernable in the pictures. They are an excellent example of biological adaptation, or possibly intelligent design.

From the 7000 foot high rim of the volcano, one can observe points in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.

In this respect, it at least visually outdoes Four Corners, NM. The flatness of the landscape is generally due to the lava that flowed out of the volcanoes,

and although Capulin is for 62 000 years, safely silent and extinct, the whole area sits on a bed of lava that may erupt at any given geographical point to produce another volcano.

The volcano is quite unique in that unlike most other volcanoes, it for reasons not yet understood, has been recovered in vegetation. The first step in the process is the repopulation with lichens, which then produce soil that can hold water and plant-life. This plant life supports not only the visible gopher and deer, but also as we indirectly saw – porcupine.

At the end of my sunset walk around the rim, Scottie and I were confronted with a herd of 5 mule deer at a distance of 20 feet. They gazed at us, apparently without fear, and although Scottie wimpered a little, he did not pull on the leash. I said a quick thank you to their spirits for sharing this moment and space with us. My camera had stopped working, so the moment was not captured except in my memory, and with these words.

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