Amazing… I know I have said it before, but I do have to now officially declare we have the MOST FUN when we are in nature, in the dirt, wild and free range. Drumheller we love you.
Off we went with map in hand travelling the Dinosaur Trail loop extending from Drumheller. We learnt all about the creation of coal to finding our own fossils to yes, the amazing, absolutely amazing coulees. As I said yesterday, the mountains are created by the bottom washing away, leaving world class canyons in its wake. (Should I say rivalling the Grand Canyon or Bungle Bungles?).
This place was created in the last ice age only 22,000 to 17,000 thousand years ago when the glaciers melted, lakes formed and burst which flooded the valley numerous times. This exposed the 70,000 million old rock formations, colourful layers and ancient fossils. One of the trail signs said the thick tropical forest flourished 300,000 million years ago. OMG this has been one of our most fantastic days on the trip.
We started our day at the last historical coal mine site in Alberta. We all learnt how coal is actually made by ancient fern forests that fell into the swamps and created the layers in the coulees. The mine is owned by the local Hysterical Society and the do a fabulous job. The mine has been restored, mine shafts reopened and a great underground tour to appreciate this bygone industry.
We checked out the Hoodoos. Similar to our Pinnacles in WA. They are created by a mix of soft and hard layers interacting as a result of erosion leaving the tall standing pillars. Neat enough.
Along the trail there are numerous stops like the suspension bridge and the ghost town of Wayne. Well actually it has 28 residents and of course a happy fully operational old time tavern. At the suspension bridge we scoured the coolees and found some unconfirmed small pieces of fossilised wood. The layers in the coolees are just spectacular. You can see from the ice age, to the ancient fern forests, volcanic ash explosions to the dinosaur era to present day, and everything in between. Layer after colour changing layer exposing the story. And you can just explore it all with your hands and feet layer by layer. Some are soft and crumble while others are stone hard. Colours range from milky white to black to reds and much more.
Now you know we are in prime fossil country. The reason we were attracted to coming all this way to a dinky little town in the desert. It would rate as an all time blow our heads off to find petrified wood, plant or the holy grail, a dinosaur bone.
Next stop on our trail map was Horseshoe Canyon. A fantastic canyon singing mouth frothing ancient story. The white layers at the bottom were created in the last ice age as the glaciers melted and ground the stone, swamps dried up, coal seams and bone dinosaur discovery layers all with the local farmer harvesting wheat on the top present day layer. We trekked down to the Canyon floor to examine the layers with our hands and yes, look for more fossils. Eureka we struck gold with Bailey picking up fossilised plants on the surface. Bailey was so excited he nearly wee’d his pants. I was not far behind. He said he has been waiting his ‘whole life’ to find his own fossils just like this.
There was much to look at and take some great photos as keepsakes. We also found a largish bone imbedded in a big rock that was maybe a dinosaur fossil. Anyone can go fossil hunting here. How amazing is that! Real life awesomeness.
Luckily the sun stays up late. We continued our journey checking out Horse Thief Canyon, taking the dinky ferry crossing and enjoying sunset. The also checked out the open stage theatre. Just great to explain and show the kids what an outdoor theatre looks like. This reminds me of Rome and Athens plays we see on telly.
Home to hot bath, soup out of a can, red wine, pumpkin pie with pressure can cream on top. Doesnt get much better than this!