Thursday, October 23, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
|How will we deal with the hordes of people from the U.S. trying to invade our borders?|
Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site, and as gruesome as the name was, it was a fascinating place. From there we headed south to the border crossing at Carway. We figured since it had a name that there would be a town and facilities. We got there, and there was...one building. It was a duty-free souvenir/liquor/tobacco shop, and thank goodness, it had a restroom. Still, there were some picnic tables so we stopped for lunch and had a look around. We also wondered if the authorities were going to let us back into the United States. You never know...in the innocent days before 9/11, we were interrogated about whether we had any "Beanie Babies" in our luggage. I laughed at the question, and the border agent got very serious: "Sir, DO YOU have any Beanie Babies?"
The mountain was a dramatic welcome back into the United States. We only had a few more days left on our journey, but there was still much to be seen. The story will continue in another post!
Monday, October 20, 2014
|There is a seven story building in this picture. Can you see it?|
Northern Convergence tour of western Canada, and were making our last stop in the country at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site. At Head Smashed In and similar localities, the geology provided a safer way to hunt the animals.
About the name of the place. In the Blackfoot language it is called Estipah-skikikini-kots. Legend has it that a young man decided to watch one of the buffalo hunts from the base of the cliff. He picked a bad spot, and was crushed beneath the weight of the falling animals. The name doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the site as a destination when traveling in the region, but it is indeed a fascinating place to visit. It's full of history, but it is also a place of wide-ranging views and scenic beauty, and despite the name, serenity.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The Sierra Nevada Underground: How does a newly discovered pristine cave look? Finding out at Black Chasm
I explored Crystal Cave in Sequoia, which by virtue of being in a national park and being discovered by park personnel, was protected before catastrophic damage was done. It was developed for tourism, and millions of people have walked its passageways and yet it was protected by and large from the worst abuses.
Crystal Cave, Boyden Cavern, Mercer Caverns, Moaning Cavern, California Cavern, and Black Chasm. A stairwell and boardwalk were pinned to the edge of the chasm, allowing for access to the nicely decorated room beyond. A room never despoiled by vandals, or dirtied by sooty lanterns and torches.
More information about the cave can be found here. Tell them Geotripper sent you!
Friday, October 17, 2014
The local First Nation people did not like Turtle Mountain. They called it the "Mountain that Moves", and refused to camp in the area. The Europeans had no such worries, and mining of the coal was well underway. In the early morning of April 29, 1903, a shift of 17 miners was working deep underground. For weeks there had been strange things happening in the mine. Timbers holding up the tunnel walls would splinter and break for no apparent reason. Coal would occasional "mine itself", crumbling out of the seams overnight when no one was around. Small earthquakes were occasionally felt underground. The miners knew that the collapse of mine tunnels was an ever-present danger, so they may not have been overly surprised to hear the explosive concussion followed by an ominous silence. They were trapped, no doubt by a cave-in. They began to assess their situation. Soon, water was pouring into the tunnels, making a bad situation even worse.
The normal passage to the surface was blocked, but one of the miners knew that a second coal seam might be close enough to the surface that they could hack their way out. They started digging for all they were worth, gasping in the increasingly toxic air. One by one, the miners gave out. They weren't dead, but they just did not have the energy to pick up their tools. Only three of them were still working when they broke through to the surface. Rocks were still falling from above, so they couldn't yet escape, but they had fresh air, and they quickly cut another opening beneath a protective overhang. After thirteen horrible hours they emerged at the surface to find their experience was only a part of an even larger tragedy. A gigantic avalanche had buried part of their town, killing between 70 and 90 people. The miners had been given up for dead, so their appearance was some small bit of good news in the midst of the horrific event.
Northern Convergence tour, we were struck by the sudden appearance of an absolutely barren slope. It doesn't take long to realize why, as the highway crossed a huge debris field covered with gigantic boulders. It was the debris avalanche that destroyed so much of Frank back in 1903.
The slide was truly epic in scale. Totaling 30 million cubic meters (82 million tons), the avalanche was 1,000 meters (3,300 ft) wide, 425 meters (1,394 ft) high and 150 meters (490 ft) deep. It spread laterally over level ground, covering three square kilometers. The rocks had flowed over the surface like a thick liquid at speeds of up to 70 mph (112 km/hr). The entire event was over in less than 2 minutes.
We headed into nearby Pincher Creek for the night. It was our last night in Canada, but we still had plenty yet to see, on both sides of the border..
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
|A smaller erratic a few hundred yards from the Okotok Erratic|
|Pictographs are symbols painted on the rock. Petroglyphs are chipped into the rock.|
This is a continuation of our Northern Convergence tour of British Columbia and Alberta. In this case, I guess "convergence" refers to the two masses of glacial ice. We concluded our visit and headed back towards the Rocky Mountains and Crowsnest Pass to check out a not-so-long-ago tragedy. More on that next time.
*The Blackfoot legend is loosely rephrased from interpretive signs at the park.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
For Modesto Area Friends: Celebrating the Art of Science at the Science Community Center of MJC, Oct. 15, 2:00PM
I didn't sculpt anything, but I have a number of my bird photographs mounted on the walls in some of the meeting rooms. I've been exploring the rather diverse population of native birds who inhabit the wilder corners of our campus, and discovered some three dozen species so far and counting. You can see a lot of them at Geotripper's California Birds.