A Honeymoon on Top of a Volcano
Ashley Chance is the southeast regional coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation’s Artemis Sportswomen initiative.
When my husband and I decided to get married he asked if we could be wed in the place where he had experienced “the best day of his life” two years earlier. Wanting to usurp that infamous day in his memory with our wedding, I heartily agreed. We were married near the Valles Caldera in New Mexico and spent our honeymoon fly fishing its narrow streams and listening to elk bugle — in awe of the beauty around us.
The Valles Caldera is thirteen miles in diameter and is part of a large volcano field. It was formed around 1.2 million years ago when multiple eruptions spewed ash and pumice across a vast area of the American West — as far east as modern day Kansas. Calderas don’t have the typical conical shape that you think of volcanoes having, because they collapse as the magma escapes forming a crater. Its most recent eruption probably happened some 50,000 years ago, but geologists still consider the area to be active, as evidenced by nearby hot springs.
On my husband’s first trip to this special place, he caught a rainbow trout while listening to elk trumpet to one another beneath a double rainbow. That experience impacted him in a powerful way and he wanted to share it with me. There wasn’t a double rainbow on our honeymoon but it was the perfect place to reflect on where we’d come and where we were going.
I am a novice fly fisher and the Caldera is not a forgiving place for beginners with its strong winds and narrow waters. I tried my best to untangle the flies that never made it past the water’s grassy edge and crouched along the bank to hide from the wary fish, but found little success. I spent a lot of time sitting in the grass with my face turned to the sun just soaking up the sounds and smells.
This place is sacred to us now and holds one of the pivotal moments in our relationship. We talk about returning often and will certainly bring our children there to fish one day. Wild and beautiful places are important to our spirit and I feel blessed to have spent such a significant time in one of them. Public lands in the United States are truly national treasures and this specific place ranks at the very top for our family.
So many of our country’s parks and public lands written about in these love notes would not exist but for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This important conservation program was permanently funded when Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act earlier this summer. You can learn more about the Land and Water Conservation Fund here.
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