Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 28, 2012

Impressions from ancient days

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 2:36 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

Eight toes in one picture.

Antiquity is a tantalizing thing; Jurassic antiquity is one of the more alluring, especially if you’re standing on a spot where dinosaurs once patrolled the land.

High in the La Sal Mountains, above 8200 feet, lies a trackway of these old creatures. Past a jerry-rigged stick-and-wire gate keeping cows out, the path meanders through oak scrubland to an open area of flat rock. The instant I set foot upon it, my brain shouted YOU HAVE SEEN ROCK LIKE THIS BEFORE AND IT CONTAINED DINO TRACKS. And, sure enough, a minute more brought me to the impressions.

They were large. VERY large. Bearing water from recent rains, the tracks crossed each other, great beast-feet striding in various directions. Putting my shoe next to one of them, I couldn’t help but speculate about its height… two or three Kathryns tall? What color was its skin? Did it make a snuffling noise as it walked? How did it hold its tail? Did others scatter ahead of it? Were there bigger ones than these? Were babies unutterably cute? What plants surrounded the Jurassic travelers in this locale? What kind of dinosaurs made the prints???

My hand span is 8 inches, pinky to thumb.

Not having any answers for my set of curious questions, I pressed my nose against the trunk of a stately Ponderosa pine, inhaled its unmistakable vanilla scent, and recalled how much I love the West. Every new day of this wondrous life brims with things to explore and discover; I am blessed, so very blessed.

 

Advertisements

September 3, 2012

Imagination: ignited!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:49 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

What ARE those depressions in the rock?!? Click to enlarge.

Hiking alone always lights up new areas inside my brain. In a backcountry area of the park recommended to me by a law enforcement ranger, finding my own way across pathless sandstone, I was keenly aware that I was the only human out this way. I had what I needed: water, Clif bar, hat, radio, spare battery, whistle — no need for a map since I was following the edge of a giant hole in the earth.

This is an area beyond Upheaval Dome, which is a geologic enigma in itself — crazily jumbled layers of rock in an otherwise-orderly sedimentary landscape. I can’t even tell which layers of rock I’m hiking in out here, since the deformation that took places eons ago turned it all inside out. I found myself descending a slickrock slope alongside what looked for all the world like tracks in ancient sand or mud. DINOSAUR TRACKS, my mind screamed. No. It couldn’t be. Yes, it sure looks like it. Arrgghh, it’s in the wrong layer of rock. What kind of rock IS this, anyway? Wait. Chemical weathering. It’s just erosion. No, erosion doesn’t happen in left-right-left-right sequences. Gosh, it looks like a pair of them, whatever they were… going for a walk together. Sweet! No. Too deep. But… maybe…

Finding dinosaur tracks would be a Very Cool Event. Wary that I was wanting that badly enough to distort my objectivity, I took some photos and headed back to the visitor center. One permanent ranger was skeptical, reminding me that no tracks could have survived the forces that made a two-mile-wide crater. Another permanent ranger had a sparkle in his eye and whispered, “I think I’ve heard that there ARE dino tracks out that way.” Which is just the way I must leave it. I’ll probably never know. Mystery is very, very good.

Feel free to double-click on the photo to enlarge it, and tell me what YOU think caused these sequences of holes. (This means you, Sawyer!)

 

Blog at WordPress.com.