I was able to spend my days looking for caves at Craters at the Moon that have yet to be explored. I had one particular cave in mind. It wasn’t just any old cave I was looking for though, it was the Big Enchilava (yes that is its real name). Armed with a GPS unit, youthful enthusiasm, enough lights to light up the western hemisphere, and my caving buddy Lucy, we set out on our journey. Each mile we drove closer to our entrance point seemed to anger the very sky. The wind began to howl, clouds rushed in to darken the sky, but at least it was dry. The terrain we had to cover seemed less than hospitable, bringing images to mind of the black vomit it was once described as so long ago.
Even still, we were on the hunt so out we went. The journey was difficult at points but we made good progress. And then the rains came. Clambering over the brittle and sharp a’a lava flow we made our way gamely on, heads bent against the sheeting rain, watching the GPS as we got closer and closer to our cave. Eventually we reached our destination, geared and ready to explore this mysterious cave known as the Big Enchilava.
Within one foot of the cave coordinates is where disappointment struck. No visible caves as far as the eye could see, not even a small burrow entrance that could have been mockingly referred to as the Big Enchilava. Our hearts sank, but it had been a long trek so we decided to explore the area.
Our desire to find this unexplored cave led us on a merry hunt, covering as much ground as possible in the hopes of stumbling upon it. Windswept and soaked through, we had to give up the hunt. We were beaten that day, but the disappointment of not finding our cave left a smoldering desire to find, map, and explore this elusive cave fondly referred to as the Big Enchilava.
In reality, we had fruitless but exciting search for this cave. My resource management partner Lucy, and I, spent a cold but exciting day out on the lava searching for this cave that was at one time tagged on a GPS unit but has yet to be explored. It is always good to have a sense of humor when working in the field and your day doesn’t go as planned. I hope you enjoyed this little insight to my week and hope I can share a blog post in the future describing my locating and exploration of the elusive Big Enchilava.
Hello once again. My time here at Craters of the Moon continues to expose me to new and valuable experiences in the field of conservation. This past week I went on a 5 day hiking trip, aiding the park’s wildlife biologist in invasive species removal. The target is a plant know as Dyer’s Woad that, if left unchecked, has the potential to outcompete and reduce native plant population numbers. So armed with that knowledge and a 30 pound spray pack we ventured across the lava fields at the southern end of Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Days consisted of hikes ranging from 6 to 12 miles, following previous GPS data points that indicated potential plant hotspots. Some areas were devoid of Woad, others brimming with the vibrant green and yellow plants.
In the end, we sprayed and removed the seed pods from thousands of plants with the goal of reducing and minimizing the spread of the invasive Dyer’s Woad. The resilience in fending off all attempts to stop the spread of it is both amazing and terrifying. Hopefully, with increased awareness to the plight of our native landscape and continued removal efforts this invasive can be managed over time The experience is one I (and my shoes) will never forget.
Hello all, my name is Mauro Hernandez and I will be spending this summer at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco, Idaho. I am a recent graduate from the University of California-Santa Cruz with a Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies. I drove out nearly two weeks ago from my home in Fresno, California to Craters and couldn’t be more excited for this amazing opportunity. I will have the opportunity to work as both an interpretive ranger and resource manager.
This park looks inhospitable at first glance
until you travel further in, soon realizing that even in the desert there is life.
Beyond exploring, I have been in training, developing my various programs I will present to the public. I hope you follow along to enjoy this amazing experience with me, because there are more amazing things (especially pictures) to come.