May 7, 2010

A New Series - 30 Days in the Rocky Mountains

As we settle down for the summer, before hitting road again in September, I wanted to keep this blog going. I am going to begin a new series detailing past adventures...Of course, I'll continue to write blog posts of our hike and adventures through the summer. But, I also wanted to keep it going on a more continuing basis and add a little spice to it this summer.

The first series I'll do this summer is 30 Days in the Rocky Mountains. It'll be a summary of the month long trip we did along the entire length of the United States Rocky Mountain Chain from the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas up to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta in June/July of 2003.

The trip was taken in our 2003 Honda CR-V with Linda, myself, and Maile packed in with as much camping and cooking gear as we could fit. We primarily camped in campgrounds and dispersed on random forest roads all the way up. We would cook our own food on our propane stove. We usually stayed in a hotel about once per week to shower, organize, and eat at a restaurant.

The trip began as we departed Page, AZ on a hot day in late June and headed south to Flagstaff and then across to Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrooke, AZ. At 6,000 feet, it was still over 90 degrees during our visit there where we saw 225 million year old Auracarea trees (similar to modern monkey puzzles) from an ancient riverbed, where the fallen logs accumulated on river banks and then were buried by sediment.

The Painted Desert represents sediments banded with Bentonite Clay, which are layers of volcanic ash mud that accumulated due to large volcanic eruptions in the region at the time. This material erodes easily and is virtually devoid of vegatation, exposing these beautiful colors.

That's a big petrified log

The petrified wood was preserved when dissolved minerals in the water seeped into the cells of the tree and crystalized around and eventually replaced the wood. Many of the details are still obvious including the tree rings and even the bark sometimes. The colors are based on the minerals, including reds for iron, white for quartz, and blues for copper.

This is the Blue Basin, where bentonite clay layers have petrified wood sticking right out of them

The region is very exposed and nearly devoid of vegetation. But, amazingly there are petroglyphs all over. I love this one of the ibis eating a person!

After this brief visit, we headed off to the Mogollon Mountains and Gila Wilderness of western New Mexico, which will be detailed in my next post.

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