Saturday, February 09, 2008

Winter Escapes

The sun is bright and it’s warming through the 40s F (single digits C) already, but the north yard is locked in snow and it’s clearly still winter. My neighbors are off to the sunny beaches of Cabo San Lucas today, and that puts me in mind of our local beaches.

Even I’d agree that there’s nothing like stretching out in the warm sand on a winter or just-barely-spring day. You might think beaches are rare in Colorado, but that’s only the case if you take the modern view. For those of us who live in the past—the really distant past—sandy beaches abound.

To find them, you just have to ask a geologist instead of a surfer. Far more of the former than the latter in Colorado anyway, I suspect.

The sand of these Dakota beaches does not welcome or warm the toes, and probably isn't quite as comfortable to lie on. No sand castles will be built here: this beach was loose sand about 100 million years ago. Not only is this beach too far from the sea now, and some 6,000 ft vertical (more than 1,800 m), but it hasn't been horizontal for more than 65 million years.

Let's take a few steps back, get the trees vertical, and look at it again. The Dakota Sandstone may have provided beaches where Cretaceous dinosaurs chased each other, as evidenced locally by fossilized footprints, but it'd be a challenge to run along it these days.

More pictures of the Dakota hogback at the January 23 post. Dinosaur footprint picture at Dinosaur Ridge.

This spring hike was previously reported at Eldorado Gold.

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