Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bobcats, Bluffs, Birds, Pods, Ponds and Flint - Friday, Oct. 9, 2015

Rain threatened the first walk of our Volksmarching weekend in Amarillo, Texas. The West Texas Trail Walkers Volksmarch walking club puts on a weekend event once a year at different locations in west Texas. This weekend three walks are scheduled: one at Wildcat Bluff Nature Center in Amarillo, Texas, and two at Palo Duro Canyon east of Canyon, Texas.

When we stepped out the door of our 5th wheel this morning, it was cold, windy and looked like it was raining to the north of us. We started out a bit later because of the weather, thinking it might improve. We both wore long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a coat. As we headed to the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center, lowering skies made it look like rain was imminent.



At the nature center, we signed in for the walks then headed out on the 10k trails dressed for winter. I decided not to bring my umbrella or my hiking poles. As we set out, we were in mesquite trees, but quickly emerged into prairie grasses and yuccas. It was easy to imagine buffalo once roaming these high plains.

Volksmarch trailhead and bundled-up Bob
Engelmann Daisy (Englemannia pinnatifida)
Aster (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia)
Whorled milkweed perhaps?
Enjoying the great outdoors
Below are yucca plants after they go to seed. We spoke to one gentleman who recalls his grandma gathering the yucca pods, cooking the pods, and making soap from them. 
Yucca pods
Wildcat Bluff Nature Center grasslands
Trail at the nature center
Wildcat Bluff Nature Center gets its name from the bobcats who have lived around the bluffs for over one hundred of years. It is also the site of a branch of the historic Santa Fe Trail where wagon ruts are still visible.

Wildcat Bluff
The bluffs
Cool rocks that fell from the bluff
Susan M. on the Windmill Trail
(She is our new Southwest Regional Director
and my best friend.)
Bob and I by the windmill
Carlen and Joanne F. (She is the former
Southwest Regional Director)
Painting on floor in Wildcat Bluff event center
Bob waiting for something to happen...
lunch after the walk.
The Wildcat Bluff Visitor Center has two resident cats Sebastian and Gracie. We met both of them.
Sebastian and I
Sebastian
The staff went looking for Gracie so we could meet her too. They found her communing with her distant relatives (sitting on top of a bookcase next to a photo of lynxes.)

Gracie with her relatives
After our 10k walk, Susan M. joined us for lunch at Red Robin. We enjoyed our time catching up with her after their trip to New Mexico for a different Volksmarch walking/hiking weekend. After lunch we were heading to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument 36 miles northeast of Amarillo and we invited her to go with us. She had other plans, so she headed to her hotel.


Our reason for going to Alibates Flint Quarries was to find out what this national monument could tell us about flint quarries in this part of the country. I grew up in California, Oregon, and Washington, so when we talked about flint, it was black volcanic obsidian glass. Spear points and other tools were usually made with the black obsidian.

At Alibates Flint Quarries, agatized dolomite was quarried from the ground by the Native Americans and used for weapons and tools. On Mohs Hardness Scale it is about 2/3rds of the way up the chart for hardness. Dolomite flint has many different colors, what we saw ranged from tan to light orange to dark brown.


Alibates Flint Quarries Visitor Center

Mohs Hardness Scale - Alibates Flint is very hard
Info on spokeshaves (tools)
How flint drills and awls were used

After we finished in the visitor center, we took a 1/4 mile nature walk around a hillock. We saw so many grasshoppers!! The hills have beautiful red soil.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Butterfly or moth?
There were other things to see in the park and trails to hike. We didn't have much time left in the day (it was 3:30 p.m.), so we drove to see Sanford Dam, Lake Meredith and the Spring Canyon wetlands.

The park ranger told us about Spring Canyon Birdwalk boardwalk. It was quite disappointing, probably because it was a hot afternoon and most birds are out early in the morning (according to the ranger). The boardwalk was very short and went to two little ponds.

Sanford Dam from the road below it

American coot at Spring Canyon pond
Pond area at birdwalk
The boardwalk - the whole length of it
Sanford Dam spillways
We found the sign below to be quite funny. This is the little lake/picnic area below the dam's spillway. We had to wonder what would be the attraction of scuba diving here.


Picnic area at the pond below the dam spillway
Lake Meredith viewed from the top of Sandford Dam
On the way back to Amarillo, we stopped at Dairy Queen for Blizzards.  Next up, photos and a review of Ft. Amarillo RV Resort.

Travel Bug out.




1 comment:

  1. I'll have to add the flint quarry to my wish list. It looks interesting.

    ReplyDelete

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