©Bert Gildart: The Tohono O’odham Indian Nation considers the land embraced by the volcanic field of El Pinacate to be the place of all creation. Last week we made the hour-long drive from Organ Pipe, Arizona, to this “sister” park, and after spending a day in Mexico hiking and driving this magnificent area, we understand.
El Pinacate is a one of a kind volcanic field, containing the the highest concentration of giant maar craters in North America. Giant maars, such as El Elegante, were formed when basalt magma interacted with water in the sediment. This in turn generated violent steam explosions that broke through existing lava flows and created the current craters. As the description on the interpretive board explains, “These craters did not generate lava flows, but huge quantities of rocks and old lava flows were ejected and spread around the crater. Remains of cinder cones and old lava flows can still be seen on the interior walls of craters.”
L to R: Ocotillo cacti serves here as foreground to the Maar Crater known as El Elegante. Seneti cacti so common here at El Pinacate grows only in Organ Pipe. Another image of the crater known as El Elegante, considered unique in the world because it is a Mar volcano.
Leaving the security of the good old U.S. was a big deal for us. We’ve heard so many negative things about travel in Mexico that we did so with some trepidations, but our concerns were generally unfounded.
True, when we crossed the border and passed through the Mexican town of Sonoyta, the transition was like day and night. Poverty jabbed you in the eyes, but you can drive by all that in a matter of minutes. Then you come to a substantial highway sign that says “Hassle Free Driving for Americans.” Put in other words, the state of Sonora has realized that they have a better chance of generating a flow of American dollar by treating us with respect rather than stopping us and faulting us for questionable driving infractions.
Mexicans, of course, also appreciate natural history and we met a number of families touring El Pinacate. Every single member greeted us with smiles and expressions of friendship: “Hola. Como esta.” Or: “Bien dia.”
We returned to Organ Pipe after a very active day. We concluded that we had truly seen one of the most remarkable expressions of volcanism in the world, and came to believe that it was so extraordinary that, indeed, to have been born from such an upheaval would have been a majestic thing.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy