Mount Baker: Discovering Hidden Cinder Cones and Crater Lakes
|Program Series||Field Excursions|
|When||Jul 06, 2014 from 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM|
|Add it to your calendar||
Cleverly disguised beneath a fuzz of towering old growth forest, a seldom-visited double-cratered cinder cone lies in reach of thousands of hikers on Mount Baker’s south flank. The only cinder cones in the Baker volcanic field are at Schreiber’s Meadow, a mere half mile from the bustling parking lot and trailheads. It’s accessibility makes it unique in that the only other cinder cones in the region are near Glacier Peak and require a multi-day hike.
The Schreibers cone erupted 8,800 years ago. It rises 180 feet (55 m) above the soggy, partly-forested Schreiber’s Meadow. The eruption of basalt magma that formed the cinder cone showered a distinctively orange layer of cinders and ash around the Baker area, followed by a lava flow that flowed 7 miles to the Baker River valley. The cone and its deposits are the only easily accessible basalt on Mount Baker. This geology field trip makes a cross-country trek of a half-mile to the rim of the cone. The loose cinders that fell back to earth around the erupting vent piled up at the angle of repose, and the cinder cone’s slopes reflect this beneath the towering hemlocks and subalpine firs.The final ascent of 130 feet is steepish but there are plenty of huckleberry bushes to grab on to. From the rim, we’ll descend to the little lakes nestled in the crater, and hike up to the opposite rim. Time and energy permitting, we can walk all the way around before descending the way we came.
After the hike, we’ll drive down the road to get a good look at exposures of the cinders and the lava flow. Some of the lava entered a now-disappeared large lake in the Baker River valley, and we will compare the subaqueous and subaerial portions of the flow.
Our instructor Dave Tucker researches volcanic deposits in the North Cascades and is a director of the Mount Baker Volcano Research Center. A resident of Bellingham, retired mountaineering guide and geology research associate at Western Washington University, Dave has done geologic field mapping throughout the Mount Baker area.
This field excursion is for folks interested in geology who desire a taste of off-trail travel in the North Cascades. Bring sturdy shoes, trekking poles and a sack lunch.