Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tule and Cap Rock Canyon

Yes, there are more canyons in this part of Texas, however they are not as big as Palo Duro. We drove 260 miles on Saturday checking them out. John did admit that our trip could have been a bit shorter had he realized that there was only one entrance to Cap Rock State Park! Other than that one park and Palo Duro State Park, the rest of the land is owned by ranchers and farmers. Most of the land is quite rugged, as you may notice in the picture of above, and only fit for cattle ranches. The other picture I have here is of a cap rock. In my last posting I talked about the composition of the rock layers in the cliff walls of the canyons. What I did not mention is that there is also mudstone and siltstone in some of those layers which makes for a rock formation that is quite friable. Cap rock is the top layer that erodes slower than the rest of the layers which are underneath it, as you may see in the rock formation pictured below. The Caprock Escarpment is a long narrow rocky formation as high as 1000 feet that forms a natural transition between the flat high plains to the west and the lower rolling plains to the east. Our drive yesterday covered a small part of that escarpment.
Some of the erosion which occurs happens by fierce winds blowing across the plains. The wind we had today had to be at least 50 miles per hour. Fortunately we did not have that strong of a wind yesterday when we were hiking in Cap Rock Canyon. Still, there was a lot of grit and sand blowing into our faces, adding to the fine red sand which we were walking on. Pictured below is another awesome formation which we saw yesterday, it also shows the eroding effects of wind and water.
In Tule Canyon is Mckenzie Lake, which currently has a very low water level. There are many warning signs around it saying that for the present there is to be no water skiing or diving down into the water from the cliffs.

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