Driving up to the state park, we had a dramatic sunrise.
We were able to start walking at 8:15 am. The temperature was cool and we were in shade most of the way out on our out-and-back walk. The scenery was spectacular, especially with the sun coming up in the canyon.
Red, layered with white, grey, ochre and light green demonstrated the effects of eons of mostly water erosion. The oldest layers of rock in the canyon, Cloud Chief Gypsum, can't be seen in the Capitol Peak area, but can be seen in a few areas. Here at Capitol Peak, the lower Quartermaster and upper Tecovas formations are exposed. Quartermaster comprises red claystone/sandstone and white layers of gypsum. While above the Quartermaster, the Tecovas Formation is composed of yellow, gray and lavender mudstone and sandstone.
|Capitol Peak and a hoodoo on the left|
|Capitol Peak with the hoodoo on the left|
Combination of the Tecovas Formation with the Quartermaster produces triangular Spanish Skirts. See below. Fascinating geology on this walk today.
On the other hand, the formations drew my attention away from my feet as I gazed in wonder at what was around me. Below is the Lighthouse Formation for which this trail is named.
|The Lighthouse in early morning light|
|Quartermaster Formation: sandstone/claystone with gypsum|
|Together at last.|
We only had three mountain bikes pass us on the way out to the checkpoint. On the return trip, however, the mountain bike race was in full swing. They were flying down the trail. It was actually quite scary to be on the same trail with them. Many spots weren't very wide. Thankfully the bikers were going uphill in some of those areas so they couldn't go very fast. The sides of the trail had cacti with big spikes, so we couldn't step to the side very easily. On the downhills, the bikers were racing hard and flew around the corners. We did our best to stay out of their way.
From the Lighthouse Trail, we had a great view of our nemesis from yesterday, Fortress Cliff. Yes, we hiked from the canyon floor to the top of the cliff, traversed back and forth across the top, before we headed "down." Fortress Cliff showcases sandstone of the Trujillos Formation and the Ogallala Formation tops it off. The Ogallala is composed of sand, silt, clay, and limestone, which compose the hard caprock. [NOTE: The layers from top to bottom are: Cloud Chief Gypsum, Ogallala, Trujillos, Tecovas, Quartermaster, shale.] Fortress Cliff is shown in the photo below.
|Fortress Cliff, yesterday's nemesis|
Once again we drove through areas of cotton fields, wind farms and oil rigs. We made a quick stop for a photo of cotton. Thanks, Bob, for snapping this photo.
|Cotton on the plant|
After we unhooked the Beast and set up Rigamarole, our day ended with this beautiful sunset.
Tomorrow...searching for Monarch butterflies at San Angelo State Park.