I've been intrigued by this little group of volcanic hills in Aden Lava Flow Wilderness Study Area ever since I first saw them on Google Earth. They are not part the Aden Flow and sit atop an older flow, isolated and rising about 100 feet above the flat plains sparsely vegetated with mesquite and creosote.
One of the hills didn't resemble the many cinder cones in area. It was significantly smaller, a bit steeper and had a sharp, perfectly circular rim. It didn't resemble the larger shield volcano cone of Aden Crater either. From above it looked more like miniature stratovolcano.
So off I went. It was cool enough on Friday after heavy overnight rains. Blue sky was woven with thin clouds and the temperature was initially in the upper seventies and never exceeded 86 degrees.
It was a long drive in order to circumvent the JCJ Ranch, which had a sign trumpeting it as the " Home of the Lean Cows." No kidding. There looked like there was very little feed in the harsh desert landscape, where sand, silt and gravel were all that was in between the widely spaced, but happily flowering creosote.
I parked and began trucking the 1.5 miles to the crater. Lizards constantly scurried and jackrabbits warily moved from hiding place to hiding place. Ocotillo were thick with their green summer leaves.
I had seen a couple of rattlers on the roads while driving, but encountered none while walking.
I climbed up to the jagged, rim of the mini- volcano first. It was composed of very rough lava twisted into fantastic shapes.
I found the USGS spike right away, and then walked down into the crater bottom 15 feet below.
Walking out the other side and I circled around and began heading down to the central depression of the entire cluster. Blocky boulders of smooth, dense and gray basalt were exposed on the hill on the northeast side. This struck me as strange in this land of cinders and rough lavas. In the bottom there were iron spikes with with candy cane covers slipped over them driven into the expanse of bare, light colored dirt.
I walked out along a ravine that drained east. A fissure where lava seemed to freeze in mid-air was on one side. On the other, was a hill of cinders, nearly completely bare except for large ocotillos.
I would have liked to have stayed longer, but I was worried that if the clouds went away, the heat would come up fast. They didn't and it didn't, so after sighting the 4Runner it was a pleasant walk back.