Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Who Knew The Hoodoos?

Hoodoos 3Leaving the Royal Tyrrell Museum, I decided to take the "southern route" which would take me past some hoodoos before ascending out of the river valley and back onto the prairie. There is a little pull-out on Highway 10 where you can get out and walk around some hoodoos. It's been a while since I had seen hoodoos, and I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity.

The best area for seeing hoodoos is just south of Drumheller. On the way there, The Voices demanded a "pit stop". For them, this means at least 5 minutes of looking around and taking photos. I couldn't really afford the time, but once they start whining there is just no shutting them up. So I pulled over to make a couple of captures of some hay bales in a farmer's field. As usual, their first effort was sophmoric.

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I did like their second effort, though.

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As I mentioned above, the heavy erosion by what is now the Red Deer River makes for good fossil finding. But because the erosion occurs at different rates (the rates depend upon the hardness of the rocks), some very interesting formations are made. Look closely at this pic and you will see some people in it; kids of all ages love to run around on these rocks.

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A hoodoo is a rock spire caused by erosion. Specifically, they form when a much harder rock sits on top of a softer rock, resulting in a mushroom-like structure. But there is a big but: the erosion has to ease up, else the hoodoo quickly erodes away and there is nothing left to see. That's why we usually find hoodoos in places like the Badlands. These are areas that were once wet (lots of hoodoo-forming erosion!), but are now quite arid (so there is something for us to see!).

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These hoodoos are now fenced off to keep people from further damaging them. Accidentally, of course. This would be yet another example of the tragedy of the commons.

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The fence restricted my movements to a few viewpoints. As if that wasn't bad enough, there were enough visitors crowding these viewpoints to make it quite hard to get a good composition. At one point I noticed that the shadows we cast were similar to prehistoric cave paintings. While I am feeling old now that I am over 50, this was not quite the look I was going for.

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In the end I settled for a silhouette that looks like a steam train: a hoodoo plays the part of the stack and clouds above it play the part of puffs of smoke from the stack.

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Speaking of trains, it was time for my train to leave the hoodoos. I jumped in my car and headed up out of the valley and back up on the prairie. I needed to get back to Calgary in good time in order to head up to the mountains.

But The Voices had other ideas...

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