Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alphabet Soup

Photo: Bumpass Hell Mud Pot

Sulphurous blasts of steam shoot up from holes in the ground, fogging the area with a lingering, eggy aroma. The kind of smell usually released in the bathroom. Primordial as Hell. To be exact Bumpass Hell, a valley of churning, roiling mud pots located in Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. Mt. Lassen is less than an hour to the east of Redding, where I reside, and is an active Volcano. Statuesque pine and fir trees outline the valley and crawl up the encompassing slopes. Life seems to have abandoned the lower areas. But billions of years ago, this might not have been the case. Biochemists are recreating one of the most important events in the evolution of life: when hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and oxygen came together in the primordial soup to form DNA, amino acids and the remaining building blocks of life.

The beautiful surrounding terrain and Bumpass Hell stand together like a gorgeous young lady and her homely friend. Bumpass Hell is barren and dangerous. But, to biochemists, it is indeed a precious place. If they are correct, the extreme conditions here are the key to the momentous coupling of the components of life. To them, this is one of the richest places on Earth--bubbling in its kettle, the closest chemical ingredients from which life may have grown over 4 billion years ago.

I live in a geologically fascinating area richly laced with origins of creation. This is but one example. 4 billion years? I have a hard time imagining 4 billion of anything--let alone years. I grew up exploring this area. It is right in my front yard. When I step into this region, the world I know disappears. Who says time travel isn't possible?


Film clip: Bumpass Hell Mud Pot

video

18 comments:

Baino said...

Oooh I love blurpy mud. It's like Rotarua in New Zealand, very stinky. They use the mud for mineral masques, did you grab a bucket for the spa?

Brian Miller said...

hot mud...marvelous! lol. actuall would be pretty fascinated to check it out.

Ronda Laveen said...

Baino: Now that you mention it, I should have grabbed a bucket full of the stuff. It would make a great masque.

Brian: It is a trippy area. Feels very ancient.

subtorp77 said...

Wouldn't mind a hike through here, at all! And hang the smell; I worked on a cattle ranch!-LOL!

Megan said...

California truly has a bit of everything, doesn't it?

Love the word "blurpy."

:)

Ronda Laveen said...

Subby: If you could handle the stench of a cattle ranch, Bumpass Hell will smell like perfume to you.

Megan: I agree..."blurpy" is such a descriptive word.

otin said...

I live in a place where they would say..."Wooo EEEE! Looky at all that Mud Ya'll!" LOL! Ever smell a paper mill????

Ronda Laveen said...

Otin: Oh, YES I have smelled a paper mill! I live in timber country. Until about 12-15 years ago when the timber industry declined and the Spotted Owl became an issue, there were several paper mills here. It was one of our few industries that employed a number of residents. The smell is one you will never forget and can cross the county in a matter of hours. Pee U.

Mrsupole said...

That is one active mud pot. I was wondering if they allow you to take any mud from there and if it works. Who knows you might discover something. You seriously do live near a lot of interesting places and they all seem to be within an hour or two hours drive. Wow, we just live near Disneyland. I'm just kidding, I know there has to be something besides theme parks around here. I need to get me a guide book and when I feel better, maybe I will start exploring up in those mountains around us. It just seems like those mountain lions are everywhere and they kinda eat us for dinner. And those bears, they come down all the time too. Maybe someday I will have to get brave and so back up that Palm Springs Tram again. I will have to post about that experience someday. You know since I have a fear of height and all.

This is what probably keeps me from the mountains. Anyway I am glad that you had a busy first day, I hope they continue. Looking forward to seeing the pictures of the inside. Sending lots of wishes for the business to continue to grow.

God bless.

Ronda Laveen said...

Sherry: Seriously, I could go 15-30 minutes in any direction and find some cool place. Within an hour or two there are hundreds. Hey, those theme parks are okay, we travel your way to have fun. That isn't something we have. There's Marine World about 3 hours south and Great America another hour after that. We just get nature theme parks.

Thanks for the good wishes and hope you feel up to postin about the Tram soon.

Leah said...

How fantastic. I felt a connection with the primordial when I swam (well, swam on top of) the Dead Sea. And this is even more so than that. Amazing, really.

Mary said...

There are so many things I miss about California...thank you for letting me visit.

Ronda Laveen said...

Leah: I remember seeing the photo you posted of yourself swimming in the Dead Sea. It WAS amazing and beautiful. It would be hard for me to describe what primordial feels like but you know it when it when you are surrounded by it.

Mary: My pleasure, Mary.

Evening Light Writer said...

I was entertained by that clip, I kept playing it over and over but I'm not quite sure why. Probably, my brains are still packed in a box somewhere..or I'm just fascinated with geological anomalies? I kept thinking that looks like a boiling mug of hot chocolate...

Ronda Laveen said...

Mindy: It does look like a boiling pot of hot chocolate or pot of fudge in the making. I kept watching the clip too but not sure why either. It was just kind of soothing and mesmerizing. Are you moved in yet?

Candie Bracci said...

wow this is so cool Ronda!:)

tony said...

I Would Love To try That Funky Mud!

Ronda Laveen said...

Hi Candie, thanks.

Tony: you are so right. That is some Funky Mud!