Thursday, June 7, 2012

Petrified Forest Trail

Today I picked the Petrified Forest loop for our trail. We had seen some petrified stumps at a museum on the drive a few days ago.

I saw some pieces of petrified wood on yesterdays hike but just small pieces. On this hike there are two forests of petrified stumps like this one.
Today weather however isn't cooperating and we are getting a little drizzle and rain on and off.  The rain creates mud like I have never experienced before. It sticks to your books and grass gets caught and more sticks to that until your feed weight 20 pounds.

And the mud is super slippery on the rocks.

This hike is in a different portion of the park and the hills have a lot more tree and vegetation.
This is a Buffalo Wallow where a Buffalo rolls in the dirt to keep clean and also as part of a mating ritual

Part of this trail is on the high plains grassland. It is flat and there is nothing but grass.

As we walk across a long expanse of grass we can see some lightning and heavy rain off in the distance.

We've seen a lot of mushrooms, which I normally like to take pictures of, except most of them were growing on the Buffalo Patties.

This one was nicely growing on the ground.

A little more rain came as we crossed another long grassy stretch. The wind seemed like it would be blowing the clouds away from us but they kept getting closer.

Eventually the rain slows down a bit.

Here we are coming into the second forest which is bigger and has more stumps than the first one.

If you look on the right in this picture you can see the trail going down a grey ridge. Except that it is thin super slippery mud and if you fell off to the right you would slide and slam into rocks and stumps. So we end up going down a different way, partially sliding on our asses which get very muddy.  
After the excitement of getting filthy we are rewarded with lots of petrified stumps.

They are old cypress trees from millions of years ago when there was a sea here. Stumps are left behind as the softer mud and rock is washed away.

Because they protect the ground beneath them the stumps are often left sitting on little columns of softer rock.

This also happens with other harder rocks leaving lots of tables and other formations.
Except for the rain this was a good hike, it would have been much nicer with some sun.

We hikes about 11 miles and headed back to the campground to cleanup.

Pie and Ice cream was in order after that. They had fresh pies at the same place we got ice cream yesterday, they seem very happy to have some business.  The business owners are eagerly awaiting the tourist season.

Tomorrow is back to driving and we will be crossing into Canada again. So probably will be a little while till I can update more posts. We are rendezvousing with my brother in Edmonton sometime in the next 3 or 4 days. Along the way I am not sure we will be doing more than single nights (Canadian Walmart here we come!).  After 2 days of hikes my feed will thank me for a day or two off.

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