Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Atlas Coal Mine -- Drumheller, AB -- May 26, 2009

Just a few more kilometers down the road from the hoodoos.

Atlas Coal Mine..... long defunct and now a museum. It was closed when we got there, but I couldn't resist a quick photo of that wooden tipple (being the coal mining geek that I am).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hoodoos -- Drumheller, AB -- May 25, 2009

Just to the east of Drumheller are the Hoodoos, geological structures that look like pillars with "hats". These formations are common in badlands areas, and are built when harder sediment exists on top of softer material. Over time the softer material erodes away, but the "pillar" is protected by the "cap" of the harder sediment. Over time the hoodoos will also erode away.

Smaller hoodoos, or "hoodoo rocks"

Close up of the "cap":

The area immediately around the area looks pretty cool too:

These are not small structures!! (And many around the world are much bigger)


These hoodoos are iconic enough they've been used in a number of videos, including Tom Cochrane's Life is a Highway

Friday, February 5, 2010

Drumheller Trail -- Drumheller, AB -- May 25, 2009

Exiting the main building of the Tyrrell Museum does not mean the fun is over. The museum also offers an interpretive path/trail. The land is so stark and dry it's tough to imagine what's left to see, but the 30-45 minute walk is well worth the trip.

(Though on a sunny day, come prepared -- there is no shade at all on the trail and the sun is unforgiving at the best of times).

One of the highlights of the path was the hoodoos -- rock and sand formations created over thousands of years. These weren't the big hoodoos -- they come later -- but that distinctive mushroom shape is so fascinating we had to stop and look:

The layers of time are unmistakable:

Two more mini hoodoos:

It's such a stark, dry land, yet somehow there are still colours everywhere:

But wait... there's more....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Horsethief Canyon -- Drumheller, AB -- May 25, 2009

A few kilometers outside of Drumheller, just when you think you're hitting the bald prairie again, this massive expanse of land opens up as far as the eye can see.

Horsethief Canyon. It's known for its spectacular view as well as the bright yellow canola fields that surround the area (unfortunately we were too early in the season). Just before the highway turnoff to the viewpoint, the oil pumps begin to dot the prairie landscape. Amazing how everything ties together.

Horsethief Canyon is aptly named. Horse thieves used the canyon to hide their stolen horses until they could be sold. Hard to imagine being able to find anything here.....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tyrrell Museum -- Drumheller, AB -- May 26, 2009

The Royal Tyrrell. If you're into dinosaurs, geology or natural history, this is the place to be. While this is technically not a "hike" or even outdoors, it's a must-see attraction in the area, and hey, it's educational! The museum was recently renovated and the exhibitions upgraded, and there is so much to take in it's sometimes tough to make sure you see everything.

But first, let's meet the creatures that greet us at the door:

Earlier in the museum tour, there is an exhibit covering the research and some of the science behind these long extinct beasts. Just when you think it's all starting to go over your head, they throw in a nice interactive touch, or simply something that will blow your mind. Such as having a grown man stand next to the leg bone of a dinosaur:

The biggie: Tyrannosaurus Rex. I did not know until this particular visit that a full T.Rex was found in Southern Alberta... in the Crowsnest Pass, which is one of my favorite places in the world.

The photo quality is not so hot here thanks to the glass case, but this was too stunning not to show. I can't remember the name of the animal, but the smaller skull is of an alligator. Not sure I want to envision what the larger beast could be:

There was even a room dedicated to prehistoric undersea creatures, most smaller than the eye can see. The whole room glowed as each type of sea beast was highlighted and explained.

Even the floor below us had "life" to it:

Prehistoric ammonite - donated by a local company. It's about the circumference of a small table. The colours are stunning:

Another display within the museum:

This next area was brand new to the Tyrrell: the remains of a giant sea creature recovered from southern British Columbia (I believe). It took up an entire room at the museum, and no photo can compare to seeing this beast laid out. The outline represents the size and shape of where the missing pieces would be. The skeleton takes up the entire hall, and you can tell by the people at the end of the shot how big this creature was.

The halls are arranged by timeline, and one of the last stops is skeleton of a wooley mammoth and a sabre tooth tiger, bringing us to the beginning of the ice age.

From here we left the museum and went outdoors, where there was still so much more to see...