National Geographic : 1917 Jan
Photograph by D. B. Church TIHE GLOOMY STRETCHES OE SOLUKA CREEK: TREES ALL DEAD I must confess that even after many crossings of this sinister stream without mishap I could never plunge in without a shudder of dread. So wide that from the middle we could see neither shore, its swift current everywhere churning the quicksand, it presents a formidable obstacle to a man carrying a pack. I was in constant fear lest some member of the party would be mired in its depths, for, although we seldom sank below our knees, we could plunge the full length of our alpenstock into the quicksand anywhere without finding bottom (see text, page 35). peared. Beyond that point there were no signs of animal life, except a pair of bald eagles, which reconnoitered our camp the first night, a few mosquitos, and, curi ously enough, a humming-bird moth, which seemed strangely out of place in such a valley of death. Clouds hung so low that everything above a thousand feet was obscured, but as we pushed up into the valley a feeling of tremendous awe possessed us. We had quite exhausted our stock of super latives in the lower valley and found our selves altogether without means of ex pressing the feelings that arose in us or of describing the scene before us. MORE EVIDENCE OF A TREMENDOUS FLOOD As we proceeded, evidences of flood damage rapidly increased; but we noticed that none of the tributary streams had been affected, and when we reached the forks of the river we found that the whole flood had come down from under the volcano itself, wreaking havoc in its way. A deep channel had been eroded in the pumice deposits. Part of the way it had washed out all of the pumice and had cut into its original bed besides. For miles where thick forests had stood the trees were sheared off at the surface of the ash (see picture on page 42, taken a year later, after the stream had cut away the pumice, exposing the stumps). The few trees which remained were bent, twisted, splintered, and broken in every describable manner. , In places, sheltered from the extreme fury of the waters, the trees were piled high with driftwood. The volume of water had been enor mous. We found high-water marks 25 feet above the bed of the stream where the valley was two miles wide.