Taking a Dip in a Mud Volcano

  On Saturday July 28th History on the Move visited the Tolsona Mud Volcanoes off the Glenn Highway near Copper Center, Alaska. Needless to say it was much different than what we expected. Beginning in a thin forested area next to the Tolsona Wilderness Campground, the trail to the volcanoes took us through a muddy bog and forced many off-trail excursions.

  Near the beginning of the hike, we began to notice how thin and narrow the trail was and in no time at all it had disappeared completely. As my professor searched for the vanished pathway, some of us turned back deeming our efforts futile. Despite this, Dr. Farmer-Kaiser found the trail and led myself, and the others who had remained, to the mud volcanoes. Stepping out into a clearing, we noticed three distinct mud puddles in the distance. These ended up being our volcanoes and it was  quite clear none of us were impressed. It wasn’t until we dipped six foot long sticks into the volcano showing us just how deep these things went.

  I then had the bright idea to build a bridge over one of the volcanoes using a thin log. Taking another stick and jamming it into the walls of the deep mud pit, I was able to balance on the thin beam over the volcano. My confidence growing, I thought it would be fun to sway and dance on the log. When I felt satisfied, I prepared to jump from the log back to dry land. Bending my knees, I made the hop across using a log sticking up from the volcano’s walls. It turned out though that this log was actually floating and not attached to the thick muddy walls. Suddenly I found myself plunging feet first into a mud volcano full of methane gas. Panicking I managed to grab dry land and pull myself out of the pit. By this time my classmates were celebrating both my hilarious fall and my escape from imminent filthiness. They tried to get me to go back in, but I had had my fair share of mud volcanoes for the day and decided to take a seat in a nearby field of tall grass. While the Tolsona volcanoes were not exactly the volcanoes we had pictured, we made the experience fun and memorable.

-- Weblog written by Stephen St. Michael

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