Monday, 16 April 2012

Hello HooDoos

Bob and I were treated to yet another hike, courtesy of Frank and Nan, one of our many good friends we have met on our adventure west.

What are HooDoos?  Time for a short geology lesson....

A hoodoo is a rock formation which is caused by differential resistance to erosion. This means that some parts of the hoodoo are harder than others and these hard parts last longer. In the hoodoos above, the tops are the hardest part and they protect the soft rock below from wearing away.
Most of a hoodoo is soft sandstone. In this soft sandstone, there may be layers (formed as sand was laid on an ancient beach and holes (formed as ironstones fell out). On the top of the hoodoo, there is usually a caprock. Caprocks are made up of many small layers and they are very hard. Caprocks protect the soft sandstone underneath from erosion. When there is no caprock, the soft sandstone erodes away very quickly.  Wind throws particles of sand at a hoodoo, knocking particles off that hoodoo.  When it rains, the water washes particles of sand off the surface off hoodoos.  Freeze-thaw cycles involve the expansion of water as it freezes. So when water gets into a little crack on the surface then freezes, it expands, causing the crack to get bigger.  This allows more erosion to take place.  Hoodoos are constantly changing shape, however, it happens so slowly that we usually do not notice it.  Ironstones are reddish-brown rocks that are very hard.  When the sand was being deposited on the ancient beach, living organisms became trapped in the sand.  This organic material slowly attracts molecules of iron mineral around it.  Slowly, over millions & millions of years, layer upon layer of iron, and ironstone concretion is formed.  Ironstones are so hard that when they are exposed on a hoodoo, the soft sandstone around them is eroded away & the ironstone fall out, leaving a hole.

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The holes in the hoodoos can result in very exotic and curious forms. These sandstone layers have been exposed for over 15 thousand years. During this time, they have been blasted, cracked, and washed away by erosion.

Now, back to hiking.  We drove to Fairmont, another small town in the Columbia Valley also, the home of Fairmont Hot Springs as well as a small, but very fun ski hill.
Are we there Yet?  Not like Ontario, the towns are separated by beauty and vastness surrounded by majestic snow capped mountains, cattle ranches.  Which brings another question.  Where are the barns?  I ask. Barns? There are no barns.  These four legged creatures stay outside day and night.  Not like home.  We put our cattle to bed in a barn nightly.  The difference?  Approximately a few thousand more cattle here in the west!  In Ontario, our pastures are usually under 100 acres.  In the west and Prairies they are ranches and can be the sized of small towns, if not cities.

We arrive at our destination without incidence and adjust our trekking poles as we begin to climb.  The environment is surprisingly Sub Arab, no ferns, no greenery despite the warm temperatures with a sandy soil beneath our hiking boots.  As we climb higher the sand become evident as if we were approaching the beach.  No water in store for us on this hike.  Only the river below us.
The Hoodoos ahead, majestic and Mid Evil almost prehistoric at times.  It's nothing we have ever seen before! A ground hog's view at that as we look down on the valley.  The sand is now thick and our toes want to clutch the grains from thousands of years of creation.

Spectacular, as we are humbled from the mystic views and formation of the rock and sand.  Incredible it is despite the lose sand and towers of sandcastle like turrets. 

Fran selects the perfect spot for a picnic.  A toast to the hosts!  The temperature has warmed to a summer's afternoon as we relax and enjoy Mother Nature at her finest.

We return that afternoon, back to winter, sunshine, more skiing as we approach the end of the season.

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