I finally got around to getting some pictures up from Spring Break. We stayed in Kanab and day-tripped out to surrounding attractions. The weather varied from so-so to crappy pretty much the whole weekend, but we managed to get quite a bit in.
Some of the best fossil hunting around can be found in southern Utah. Near Kanab, the problem is that nearly all the best hunting grounds are in the Grand Staircase-Escalante N.M. or the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area--both of which are off limits to fossil collecting. With a little research, I found a small section of State land just outside of Big Water near Lake Powell with excellent exposures of the fossil-rich, Cretaceous-age Tropic Formation. These ancient sea beds are full of 100-million-year-old oysters, ammonites, snails, shark teeth, and other sea creatures.
We gave the kids hammers (not really necessary) and let them loose. We found plenty of oyster shells, a couple of snails (gastropods), and a few small straight ammonites (baculites). No shark teeth of curled ammonites this time.
Above: oyster shell fragments from the Tropic Shale litter the ground (Eros photo).
With a bad weather forecast, we continued to head south into Arizona.
Horseshoe Bend was a pleasant hike but the wind on the rim was incredible and we didn't linger long.
OK, on the count of three, turn toward the camera, ignore the grit in your teeth and try to act natural. One, two, three...
Next, we headed down to Lee's Ferry. This is where the Colorado River begins its dive into the Grand Canyon. One of the very first tributaries into the Grand Canyon is Cathedral Wash.
Cathedral Wash cuts into the Permian Kaibab limestone, forming some fantastic narrows. There are several obstacles to overcome that I knew would be a challenge for the kids and a bit unnerving for the parents. The limestone has eroded into a series of ledges just wide enough to walk on that you can follow to get around the dry falls that seemingly block your path.
Skirting around the obstacles on the narrow ledges worked for a while and we got darn close to the river, but it was getting late in the afternoon and we had additional things to see that day on top of the long drive back to Kanab, so we headed back.
Above: Watch out for that...never mind. It took several minutes to find his shoe.
Above: Ava powers up a slickrock ramp in rare limestone narrows in Cathedral Wash.
Above: Susie and Kandi pose in Cathedral Wash with the massive Paria Plateau looming above.
Above: one of several balanced rocks near Lee's Ferry.
Above: Emma Lee's cabin at Lonely Dell.
Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee's Ferry is a testament to the fortitude of the Mormon pioneers, in particular, of Emma Lee. Emma was often left to run the ranch and ferry alone, and generally fend for herself and young children for months on end since her husband, John D. Lee, was constantly traveling or forced into hiding because of his implication in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. If you ever plan to visit Lonely Dell, be sure to read Emma Lee by Juanita Brooks before you go--you'll be amazed at what she went through.
Above: Around 1910, this boiler was used to pump water out of the Colorado and onto the nearby Chinle clay beds in a futile attempt to separate fine gold out of the clays. At the head of this operation was Charles H. Spencer. He had other costly mining failures in the lower San Juan and Paria (Eros photo).
Now mostly known as the put-in for river rafters, there is still plenty to see for the history buff at the ferry crossing including a few old boilers and Lee's Fort.
Above: The remains of Lee's Fort (Eros photo).
Above: what's left of the steamship named after mining mogul Charles H. Spencer. He had this boat built to ship coal from upriver down to his mining operation at Lee's Ferry (Eros photo).
The weather held up nicely for day 1. Unfortunately, we wouldn't have as good as luck for the rest of the trip.
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