Where dinosaurs roamed
Trip Start Sep 27, 2010
34Trip End Mar 23, 2011
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We can now say that not only have we walked where dinosaurs walked – we have actually walked in their footprints.
The Canyon lake Gorge (just about 4 miles north of our campsite) was formed by floodwater in 2002 when the Canyon Lake Dam overflowed from its spillway. So much water came over the top that it cut this "new" canyon in about 2 weeks, though the flood continued for about 6. This event shifted a volume of earth, rock, rubble and trees the equivalent to a football pitch 30 storeys high. In so doing layers of history were unearthed for the first time in history
We can only hike this gorge with a guide and a group has been set up to protect the newly exposed strata. We booked our hike after signing an exhaustive safety waiver and joined 15 others with 3 guides, at the visitors information by the dam ready to soak in some geology and history combined with exploring down through the canyon.
The link above has a super video of water coming over the spillway and the facts and figures about the canyon.
Jamie, our lead guide was a font of all information for us, starting off with a short introduction to the area and the event before taking us off down to the spillway itself. This “overflow” has now been reinforced with “concrete walls” – slots cut down through the limestone and filled with concrete many feet deep – maybe 30ft or more but I can’t remember now and I didn’t take notes :( - that’ll teach me to leave a blog too long (it probably won’t). It is just below this that we had the first dinosaur footprints pointed out to us. You know, if we were to have done this walk on our own we would have just gone right on by but when they are pointed out it is so obvious what they are – left, right, left… by the depth and distance apart they can work out size and speed travelled
Carrying on down through the gorge we took time to have many fascinating sights and facts pointed out to us. Fossils are found and then left for the next people to discover and enjoy, more are being exposed every day – nothing is taken out from the canyon (though a few exceptional examples have been put into store ready for when the proposed interpretation centre opens) There is a sea bed area where the ripple effect of water on sand is clearly seen here on the rock.
This is a continuously changing area, water is still running through the gorge though not over the spillway and now there are signs of plant growth, in the first few weeks, after the gorge was exposed all was clean and fresh, the sides are starting to collapse and expose new “finds” rains wash away some of this creating new waterways. I am sure that if we went on the hike again today we would notice many changes already. We felt as though we had been in at the birth of a “grand canyon” if ever you are in this area check out the tour, it’s well worth doing and a unique experience.