Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.

A couple of former colleagues from the university library and wonderful friends joined me this morning for an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert. We did this a few weeks ago when things were less serious about social distancing, but were even then put off by the number of folks out in groups on the various common hiking trails in the area. I’m told that’s gotten even worse now with some being closed as a result.

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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.

As an antidote, I suggested we head to a lava flow wilderness area that I’ve been by a few times in the work truck (we have some weather stations out in the general area). This is a newly designated wilderness area within the national monument. It also has a large crater near the Western edge.

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Aden Crater is indeed a larger hole in the ground. Call it maybe 1/4 mile across rim to rim.
Aden Crater is indeed a larger hole in the ground. Call it maybe 1/4 mile across rim to rim.

We met about 7 this morning and I led their respective Honda HRV and Civic out to the place. There’s a lot of clay out here, so this time of year is fine in regular cars, but I wouldn’t be out here in less than a proper 4X4 with AT or mud tires with any chance of rain. I’ve nearly gotten the work truck stuck in muddy places out here days after it rained this winter. I did take it slower over the washboard than I otherwise would’ve in consideration of the sedan and CUV behind me.

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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.

Due to our abnormally wet winter, is it strangely green out here with all kinds of plants blooming (the Navajo paintbrushes were blooming two weeks ago, and the Mexican poppie bloom was last week in this area, but lots of other stuff still was. Not that I’ve spent some time out here for work lately...)

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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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Views were fantastic, and the socially distanced company was great.

Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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We had the area to ourselves the whole time.This is further out from anything than the Subaru sets tends to venture around here. That may also be a factor of there not being any signs directing folks specifically to the wilderness area, and the county road signs are hit or miss out here in general. There are easier places to navigate if you don’t already know your way around out here. I’ve only previously seen the occasional rancher and Border Patrol unit out here.

There also aren’t any designated trails here. The wilderness area is 27,000 acres of chose your own adventure through the lava fields, with additional BLM and state trust land for basically as far as you can see in every direction. We covered about 9.5 miles wandering around this morning. It was wonderful. You could cut this distance in half getting to crater and back with a good 4x4 following a trail around the perimeter, but the HRV and Civic were going no further than a clear spot to park off the side of the county road so we walked it in.

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Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.

Trains, too. They waved. We waved back. It was a moment.

Illustration for article titled Aden Lava Flow Wilderness, an appropriately socially distanced walk through the desert.
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Pajero for your time.

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