Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snow Canyon Camping, day 2: Petrified Sand Dunes

When we selected Snow Canyon as a camping destination we read up on "things to do and see" while visiting.
Various hikes were listed; one of them was to the Petrified Sand Dunes.
The idea of a petrified sand dune was quite puzzling to us.
Here's the view as one drives into the State park.
There were regular sand dunes to see on the way in.
Why should some dunes be regular and others petrified?

After a light breakfast we drove a couple of miles further into the park from our campsite.
We parked in a small parking area and loaded up Luke in the back pack.
The hike from the road to the Petrified Dunes was quite short, maybe a quarter or half a mile long?

The trail was well marked and well traveled.

The dunes didn't look too big at first.

I was enthralled at the layers of rock hard sand with creases of plant growth.
I also thought the random black rocks perched here and there were amazing.
Can you imagine rocks the sized of a kitchen oven flying through the air and landing on the dunes *millions* of years ago?
Wonder if any humans were around to see that happen.

I wondered if there was a natural spring that somehow flowed down the dune creases that enable plant growth or if it was just rain run off that was enough to support plant growth.
Either way the plants were growing as neatly in a row,  as if a landscape designer had carefully placed them just so.
Check out how the layers of sand were bending and tilting.
What amazing winds created such designs!

Beautiful other-worldly place.

I could have spent hours taking photos of all the textures and designs.

The temperature seemed warm although it was barely in the 80s.
The sky was a rich blue which looked especially vibrant next to the white yucca and the red surfaces.

I suppose by mid summer the tender greens plants and flowers would be all dried out.
I am glad we got to see the dunes in springtime.

The Fearless Four and 8/9ths (Bernie, Jeff, Rachel, Luke and Calvin) moved up the dunes on a lot faster than I did.
Of course they were not stopping for a photo every two steps like I was.

Layer upon layer upon layer...
I am amazed at how the sheer sand layers could pile up over time and harden.
How many grains of sands were there?
I believe God would know.

Here's the view from one side of the dunes.
Remember the white and the red forms are made of the same materials only the white one doesn't have iron oxide in it to "rust" into the reddish tones.

Some layers had marble sized rock bumps.
The bumps eventually would come loose and roll together in piles.
One thought was that the bumps were formed when rain hit the sand, the same way round bits are formed in flour if it is sprinkled with water.

(I think there should be some Bible verse inserted into this photo...something about thirst in a dry place....)

A very, very few ancient trees grew out of the red surfaces.
They were bend nearly horizontal from the wind.

I still do not know why the distant cliffs have upright finger shapes while the dunes are horizontal mounts.
Or why the mound ahead of the rest of the gang looks like there had been seriously large tires driving over them sideways.

A view from another direction.
This shows the road in to the park skirting the tallest mountain in the photo.

You can just barely see our blue tent on your left side of the photo.

Now what kind of crazy winds could possible form these swirls?

Picture time!

I finally caught up with everyone to join in the family photo session.
Luke had been given one of the marble like rocks.
He found it much more interesting than the far off scenes.

Isn't it awesome???

It is probably too treacherously slippery to climb up here in the rain but boy would I love to see this little pool filled with water and reflecting a sunset.

Why do some places seem to easily support plant life while others remain bare and desolate?

One of my most favorite shots of the day.

A little better view of the campground with large RVs more apparent than our little tent.

Another favorite shot.
So many curves and angles, creases and layers!

This is another favorite shots.
I want to see how it would look in black and white too as the curved forms behind her match the curve of the baby bump beautifully.

Another view of the dry pool.
I imagine in heavy rain there are lots of mini waterfalls spilling over edges everywhere.
A determined bush/tree.

Precious life in a harsh world.
Without knowing the rocks are marble sized one might think this is a full sized tree among boulders deep in a canyon!

The rocks landed and that was that for a million years.

The striped yellow and orange bed adds a bit of visual comedy to this scene.
One hardly notices the nearly blood red bit at the base of the mountain.

I also wonder why the dunes formed there on the plains instead of all over equally.
Was there something under all that sand that caught and held it in place originally?

The rock bumps, pimple like on an otherwise smooth surfaces.

Another photo I like.
The bit of lichen growing on the one rock...victory of life again all odds.

One of the ancient trees.
Bernie was loving the bonsai look.

I happened to take a closer look at one of the rocks that had been placed explosively high up on the dunes at some point in the long gone eons ago.
The circle on the edge...isn't that cool?
Like a whirl of a finger print of God.

Another view of the whirl.
As you can see by the rock next to it, that sort of design is not common.

Each tiny ball has its own history...when it formed, when it broke loose, where it has rolled to.

A lot of the balls gathered in one place.
Walking there was quite a challenge, like walking on ball bearings.
Rachel slipped on one of the balls and thankfully gracefully recovered without mishap.
I watched where each of my steps were landing after seeing that happen.

A view from another direction, this time looking out to the black magna rock layers.

Another view where the black rocks really stand out against the striped red and white layers.
For some reason I want to think the magna would come first and sand layers later.
Shows you what I know geologically speaking.

I'd like to be here to listen when the tiny rocks roll.

Just to hear the tiny clicking as the sphere rolls and then the soft pop sound as the rock lands and settles in.

Or would they all roll at once, making a shish plink sound as they flowed along together?

Looking at the top of this area:
What caused some parts to be darker than others with such a distinct line demarking the color borders?

It is easy to think the shadows are from clouds on the white-ish mountains.
Except there were not any such scattered clouds to make such a design.

Colors that must be wonderful to see from the air.
To think the black magna could have covered all of it and kept it from our view.
I like this photo a lot too.

Stay strong and resolute little tree!

Delight in the beauty of the world little ones!

Be astonished that the damage that the inferno of long ago made could one day become so stunningly beautiful.
He makes everything beautiful in His own time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

According to the Bible, God numbers the grains of sand and knows the number of stars in the universe.
Researchers at the University of Hawaii have figured out that there are roughly 7.5 x 10 to the 18th power grains of sand on earth, or seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.
Of stars, the count is estimated at 70 thousand million, million, million stars in the observable universe.
Here's the kicker:
For the unbelievably large numbers of stars, you will find the same number of molecules
 "in just ten drops of water."
(from Spectrums: Our Mind Boggling Universe, from Infinitesimal to Infinity by David Blatner.)
Now there's something to think about next time you are in the shower!

Luke prefers to think about just one single rock.
I think he has chosen wisely!

(No rock climbing allowed in the park.  Whew...)

Another favorite photos.
All the curves lead my eye through the entire picture.

Ah shoot.
I should have centered the spot in the frame where the red curves all converged.

Beautiful natural mosaic underfoot.

See the arch?
It is a peek-a-boo!

A tree that died still is artful.

Were the dead tree be seen any place else I don't think it would have the same visual impact.
If it was in the corner of my yard I suppose I would be asking for Bernie to rip it out so I could plant something else in its place.
Here...I hope it remains as it is for eons.

The spiking yucca is eye catching even with dramatic view behind it.

A rock that in the garden would be a focus point for observation and thought.


I thought the black rocks in the back ground looked like the record of  shadow movements cast by these three.

What did the yucca say to the dwarf tree?
(I have no idea but it could be a great set up for a children's book.)

Baby rocks nursing on the mother rock.

A rock kind of shaped like Texas?
It was big.

Vertical and horizontal layers.
With a pocket garden tucked in too.

Lichen color dabs add a lot to the pocked rocks.

There was much discussion about which rock we would chose to own if we could.
Also a lot of humbling for me at this point as I chose to slide down the dune face on my bottom.
Just wanted to be safe!

I suppose the bubble like holes once held real gas bubbles?

Very artistic.

Angles that I think would almost defy geometry equations.

How many windstorms deposited all these sand layers?
I suppose one could count.
For the rest of your life...

The green seemed shockingly bright.

We were out there around 9-10 in the morning and the clouds that started to form toward the end of our time there were welcomed as the reflected sun really made us hot.
If only I could have gone back again at sunset when the place would look completely different with shadows cast in a different direction.
Or perhaps in winter when snow would etch the red layers and create a whole new look to the place.

Well, this trip we would have flowers...

Tiny things like this which will only bloom for a day.

Oh so much to stare at!
To turn just slightly was to gain a whole other perspective and view.

The path on the ground was just soft sand that recorded our every foot fall.

Our time on earth...as fleeting as those foot prints when considered over the history of  creation and time.

What a place!