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  1. #1
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    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!

    I live in Southern Idaho, home to some of the best Mtb trails in existence. It also is home to some incredibly epic geology. The pictures that follow are of one of our local trail systems, which happens to be at the bottom of a 500í deep canyon...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-4e51bcb8-10a6-47ed-a3bb-be8fbda3e490.jpg

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-b0507ccd-b5e1-40f2-86e1-72dee0f4187a.jpg

    These two boulders (also known as melon gravel) were deposited in their current locations about 14,500 years ago when Lake Bonneville surged through a natural dam and flooded the Snake River plain, carving out the canyon and leaving behind these boulders. There are thousands more examples scattered across the canyon floor; from car size to bigger than your house.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-08c6dca4-5f61-45f4-ba9a-26a5153c0fd8.jpg

    Mind the gap...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-3cf11d2c-f4d0-45bd-9385-5e338a826514.jpg

    Looking upcanyon to the bridge that spans it. Off to the left, you can see the snake river winding through the canyon...
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  2. #2
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    Beautiful, thanks for sharing!


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  3. #3
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    Looks amazing! I enjoyed the geology info too

  4. #4
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    Thanks for sharing! Sweet stuff!

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  5. #5
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    I'm a geologist and I approve of this message.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  6. #6
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    When old lake Bonneville let loose I bet it was a sight to see! (from far away )
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  7. #7
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    A bit of light reading- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonneville_flood

    Itís fascinating; the Snake River canyon was not eroded over millions of years like the Grand Canyon, rather, it was chewed out of the landscape by a single catastrophic event...
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    Iím sure itís an enjoyable ride. Thanks for sharing!

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    ...and the sky in the last pic is worthy of a meteorology post...
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghood View Post
    ...and the sky in the last pic is worthy of a meteorology post...
    Why, do you see a meteor?

    More geology, please. We don't have any. (It all got scraped away by a glacier)

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  11. #11
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    Rock out

  12. #12
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    That's pretty cool, I didn't know about that but it seems kind of similar to how the Scablands in Washington state were formed when the ice dam in Missoula collapsed. I saw a documentary on that one and for decades any geologist who even suggested that the erosion was caused in a matter of hours instead of centuries was scoffed at and kicked out of the club. Time and evidence eventually proved them right though. Ariel photos of the scablands show ripples in the landscape that are gigantic versions of ones formed in sand by moving water. Also giant boulders where they shouldn't be, weird and fascinating.
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  13. #13
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    Geology was my very first declared major in college. My dad's dad was a geologist/gemologist, so i grew up around it. They took soooo many trips out west for his studies/projects. I loved reading all of his old books and seeing the pictures of their travels.

    This has sparked a great new thing for me...never thought about combining my love of both activities. I have many of the "Roadside Geology of..." books. Would be cool to also have the "Trailside Geology of...." series.

    Great topic!
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    That's pretty cool, I didn't know about that but it seems kind of similar to how the Scablands in Washington state were formed when the ice dam in Missoula collapsed.
    I thought of this too. Years ago my wife and I stopped at a museum in The Dalles that had a display of painting depicting the flood. It was the first time I realized that hugely catastrophic events had a hand in shaping our landscape. It blew my mind.

    A smaller version that happened at what is now the north entrance to Yellowstone Park, near Gardiner.

  15. #15
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    If you go in the foothills of Salt Lake and look among loose rocks, you can often encounter aquatic fossils - like corral and ammonites. Kind of interesting considering it is now a desert.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    That's pretty cool, I didn't know about that but it seems kind of similar to how the Scablands in Washington state were formed when the ice dam in Missoula collapsed. I saw a documentary on that one and for decades any geologist who even suggested that the erosion was caused in a matter of hours instead of centuries was scoffed at and kicked out of the club. Time and evidence eventually proved them right though. Ariel photos of the scablands show ripples in the landscape that are gigantic versions of ones formed in sand by moving water. Also giant boulders where they shouldn't be, weird and fascinating.
    The Missoula floods occurred around the same time period, and both they and the Bonneville flood contributed greatly to the scablands of both southern Idaho and eastern Oregon/Washington. Hellís canyon and the surrounding areas were affected by both, iirc.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of the Sage View Post
    A bit of light reading- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonneville_flood

    Itís fascinating; the Snake River canyon was not eroded over millions of years like the Grand Canyon, rather, it was chewed out of the landscape by a single catastrophic event...
    There is a theory that the Grand Canyon was also formed when ancient lake burst and cut the canyon. That may not be widely accepted yet, but there are some gathering evidence to that effect.

    I am not a geologist, but I do appreciate the science more and more as I ride and see different dirt conditions in different places. On some trails I see the dirt changing from one to another the course of ride or how the section of trail is very similar to a bit of trail miles an miles away. I often wonder if they are the same strata of rock.
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  18. #18
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    its also crazy to think of all of the layers of rock that we can not readily touch, explore and investigate...and the age of all of it, and how it is all still evolving. The volcano thing in Hawaii is a great reminder of that...
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  19. #19
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    One of the things that makes Sedona so interesting is their soil, just amazing how that place is.

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of the Sage View Post
    A bit of light reading- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonneville_flood

    it was chewed out of the landscape by a single catastrophic event...
    Same thing happened to me last year ago after eating some bad Chipotle.

    I was lucky to spend a decent amount of time out there for work. Definitely a cool part of the world and better riding than it's often mistaken for brother state, Iowa.

  21. #21
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    Here's a nice bit of Washington geology.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-img_0637.jpg

    In the distance are mountains composed of the early Cretaceous Mt. Stuart Batholith. Paleomagnetic studies indicate that the granodiorite of the batholith formed somewhere south of the equator and was accreted to what is now Washington several million years later. The current shape of the mountains was a result of Pleistocene alpine glaciation.


    I'm standing at a pass composed of the Ingalls Tectonic Complex which is a Jurassic assemblage of ultramafic rocks and deep-water metasedimentary rocks.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  22. #22
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    Prescott College has a course in Bikepacking and Geology. The professor is on MTBR.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by owtdorz View Post
    Prescott College has a course in Bikepacking and Geology. The professor is on MTBR.
    My world just shifted on its axis.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by owtdorz View Post
    Prescott College has a course in Bikepacking and Geology. The professor is on MTBR.
    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    My world just shifted on its axis.
    me too...was not planning on going back to school, but now...
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  25. #25
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    Thanks for sharing OP. About once a year I make the drive from San Diego to McCall and always go up US 95 through SW ID. There's a lot of similar geology around the Jordan Valley and Owyhee river that I bet would be fun to explore.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Here's a nice bit of Washington geology.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In the distance are mountains composed of the early Cretaceous Mt. Stuart Batholith. Paleomagnetic studies indicate that the granodiorite of the batholith formed somewhere south of the equator and was accreted to what is now Washington several million years later. The current shape of the mountains was a result of Pleistocene alpine glaciation.


    I'm standing at a pass composed of the Ingalls Tectonic Complex which is a Jurassic assemblage of ultramafic rocks and deep-water metasedimentary rocks.
    My head hurts.

    Very interesting! (The parts I can kinda understand)

  27. #27
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    Moar rocks!!!

    Got a good picture of the boulder fields today. The trail is visible at the bottom of the frame, and we are looking to the west...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-320e4d87-a944-4355-9fd7-90ca30b72f7f.jpg
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  28. #28
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    Loving this thread! Maybe we can keep it going, as I'm sure we all see some amazing geology, from the tiny pebbles under our tires to the mountain ranges we suffer up and zoom down.

    Here's my first addition to the thread: TESUQUE FORMATION, part of the Santa Fe Group. The Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico is a rift valley, meaning that the river didn't actually make it's own valley, but flows down a valley made for it by the splitting of the Earth's crust. Up until a few million years ago, the Rio Grande was just a series of chain lakes, kind of like the Rift Valley in East Africa today. As the Rocky Mountains grew nearby, these lakes filled with volcanic ash, and eroded sediment, and oftentimes were ringed by sand dunes. This pic shows one of the sand dune areas, roughly 15 million years old, flanking a huge volcanic caldera just out of site on the left.Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-img_0099.jpg
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck80442 View Post
    This pic shows one of the sand dune areas, roughly 15 million years old, flanking a huge volcanic caldera just out of site on the left.Click image for larger version. 

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    Nice.

    If I try real hard, I can wrap my mind around 15,000 years. Almost. 15 million....might as well be infinity...

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck80442 View Post
    Loving this thread! Maybe we can keep it going, as I'm sure we all see some amazing geology, from the tiny pebbles under our tires to the mountain ranges we suffer up and zoom down.

    Here's my first addition to the thread: TESUQUE FORMATION, part of the Santa Fe Group. The Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico is a rift valley, meaning that the river didn't actually make it's own valley, but flows down a valley made for it by the splitting of the Earth's crust. Up until a few million years ago, the Rio Grande was just a series of chain lakes, kind of like the Rift Valley in East Africa today. As the Rocky Mountains grew nearby, these lakes filled with volcanic ash, and eroded sediment, and oftentimes were ringed by sand dunes. This pic shows one of the sand dune areas, roughly 15 million years old, flanking a huge volcanic caldera just out of site on the left.Click image for larger version. 

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    so friggen sweet!!! I love this stuff! Great info.

    A great reminder that it is not just "dirt" and "rocks", but stuff that has a living history and is still constantly evolving, living and breathing in a way....just much slower than we can concieve
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  31. #31
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    Today, I rode a trail that follows the main flood channel, which is aptly named the paleo channel. Itís the area of the canyon floor with the highest concentration of boulders and flood debris. The river is about 200 yards north of the trail, and the channel stays dry for the most part.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-058881a7-badb-44c1-b670-31a6890ab280.jpg
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  32. #32
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    Shameless bump with a picture of tonightís ride looking to the west...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-b7e1a60f-f738-4cc4-ada5-368c7374fee5.jpg
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  33. #33
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    Great thread Sage! I had the chance to ride there a couple years ago when I was at CSI for a conference. I realy enjoyed the trails. Verry different from most of the riding around Boise and stunning views. I also learned to weld from one of the men who built the bridge in the background. There is a lot of cool history there.

  34. #34
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    A couple pictures from farther down the canyon. The first is a volcanic crater from an eruption of the canyon wall. the second is the canyon floor where the water slowed and the smaller boulders began to settle out.
    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-iphone-084.jpg
    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-iphone-133.jpg

  35. #35
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    Fat bike in volcano...

    New Mexico is basically bisected by the Rio Grande Rift, a big split in the Earth's crust that starts somewhere around Leadville, Colorado (or maybe even the Colorado/Wyoming border) and runs south into Mexico. The highest mountains in the American Rockies parallel this rift and were created when one side of the long fault rose miles into the air and the other dropped downward, more or less anyway.

    In New Mexico, much of the rift zone consists of volcanoes large and small, including a huge collapsed volcano (Jemez Caldera) roughly 30 miles in diameter that last erupted with serious force a half million years ago or thereabouts. These days, one can ride a bike, fat or otherwise, across/through/around the inside of the caldera...a landscape of sweeping meadows dotted with old lava dome mountains and ringed by the ridge line of the crater's rim. It's basically a smaller version of the Yellowstone Caldera complete with waterfalls, elk herds, pumice cliffs, basalt boulders, hot springs and big chunks of shiny obsidian.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-img_8023.jpg
    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-img_8009.jpg
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  36. #36
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    Is this the Valles Caldera National Preserve? It is currently closed due to fire restrictions, but the bookstore/visitor entrance is open. Just click on the link for current information.

    We were there four or five years ago and rode around on some of the gravel roads; storms had washed out the trails we wanted to ride. As noted by chuck80442 above, it is an astoundingly beautiful place, lovely meadows, deep blue sky forever, crisp air, high elevation (not sure, but I think the meadows are around 8,000 or 9,000'; surrounding peaks go up to 11,000' +). At the time it was managed under the auspices of Dept. of Agriculture; in 2015 it changed over to National Park Service.

    I'll add in this trip report: It was a very regulated place (no camping or overnight stays) with a mellow management vibe. It's famous for fly fishing and those wishing to fish reserve a particular section of creek. I think those people could drive in with their own car to go to their designated section of creek, but no one else could drive in.

    However, they did have a 16-passenger van with a 4 (6?) capacity bike rack and they used that to shuttle hikers and bikers here and there, with the driver as a tour guide explaining the natural history and cultural history of the place. We got dropped off along the dirt road used by the fishing folks and pedaled off. They told us to ride as far along as we wanted, turn around and head back toward the entrance when we wanted, and somewhere along the line we'd get picked up by the shuttle, which worked out perfectly.

    We turned around to save our tires when the dirt road deteriorated into a bulldozed track (fun riding) that was littered, practically paved, with an amazing amount of razor sharp obsidian.

    I think the people working there enjoyed it because visitation was low and they could take their time to enjoy their visitors.

    The series Longmire did some filming there ("The recurring location of Walt Longmire's cabin is the ranch foreman's home at the Valles Caldera preserve....")

    Anyway, I hope the NPS has managed to keep this vibe going. It is an amazing place.
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    Not infrequently I find myself examining the local rocks and dirt close up, sometimes even tasting it. It's generally not very gneiss, but something I've come to take for granite, so much so that I no longer give a schist.

    (bad. I know. Sorry)
    Do the math.

  38. #38
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    Love this thread. Some great shots and geological history, keep it coming.

    One of my local gems is the Devils Backbone, Colorado. I grew up riding dirt bikes in the 70ís and 80ís forming the trails of what now is a world renowned mtb trail system closed off to motorized vehicles.

    A 2 mile long 200í tall [in some sections] sandstone rock formation.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-ccc91150-c704-4eae-a5f9-877572750ef0.jpg

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    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-4befad09-d272-4b23-84aa-63e6f052455c.jpeg

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-8e20af12-d3d0-4a4d-902f-2a463296d9e6.jpeg

    The above photos are not mine.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-df5d2eeb-a761-4103-a104-3ea14889f7ea.jpg

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-e23993e0-e438-4d25-9930-f995818457f0.jpg
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Here's a nice bit of Washington geology.

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	1203576

    In the distance are mountains composed of the early Cretaceous Mt. Stuart Batholith. Paleomagnetic studies indicate that the granodiorite of the batholith formed somewhere south of the equator and was accreted to what is now Washington several million years later. The current shape of the mountains was a result of Pleistocene alpine glaciation.


    I'm standing at a pass composed of the Ingalls Tectonic Complex which is a Jurassic assemblage of ultramafic rocks and deep-water metasedimentary rocks.
    I very much enjoyed this thread and all contributions. Curveball's commentary has expanded my vocabulary like nothing else I've read on this forum. Kudos. "Ultramafic"... awesome.

  40. #40
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    If you follow one of the black diamond trails along the river, it will eventually bring you to a rocky outcropping at the top of a ~50í cliff overlooking the river... a perfect spot to rest, hydrate, and eat some food.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-5bad18f8-8ad4-4298-9f35-9d7a0fe787fe.jpg

    This is the biggest boulder Iíve found to date... itís nearly as wide as it is long, and nearly 20í from the top to the bottom...
    If you look closely, youíll see my bike at the base.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-c274a079-7ffe-4cff-ae58-43a448eb878a.jpg
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-a5068177-3514-41bc-a43d-62748185aacf.jpg  

    Last edited by Sage of the Sage; 2 Weeks Ago at 12:48 PM. Reason: Edited photo- you can see my bike now!!!
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    You guys have some very nice riding areas!

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    Quote Originally Posted by owtdorz View Post
    Prescott College has a course in Bikepacking and Geology. The professor is on MTBR.
    He's a pretty good rider.

  43. #43
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    Yep, geology is awesome.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-8a3a7198.jpg  


  44. #44
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    Ride the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab route. Sooooo much geology!

    This appears to be an ancient waterfall. Those are my riding partners down there on the edge for scale.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-smp7083459.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    Ride the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab route. Sooooo much geology!

    This appears to be an ancient waterfall. Those are my riding partners down there on the edge for scale.
    given the right amount of rain, that could also be a current waterfall!!! Great pic!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sXeXBMXer View Post
    given the right amount of rain, that could also be a current waterfall!!! Great pic!
    Or a picnic table for T-Rex back in the day.
    Although with those little arms it might be a challenge reaching the salt and pepper.

    Great shot for sure.
    Last edited by DIRTJUNKIE; 1 Week Ago at 03:43 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  47. #47
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    Found some more boulders in the bottom of the canyon, including one that the trail goes through...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-53ca4651-e0e9-45d1-86c3-01ba84817595.jpg

    And a couple it goes over...

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-63160351-b7fa-4618-ba6a-eadcb6492d8c.jpg
    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-446def8f-771e-4922-8f49-18a939edcc41.jpg
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    Crazy to imagine those boulders settling like pebbles in a creek. We lived in Cache Valley, Utah for a spell and could see the terraces left by Lake Bonneville. Highway 191 (?) passes right through the nick point where the lake began draining en masse. Cool part of the world you live in for sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuck80442 View Post
    Crazy to imagine those boulders settling like pebbles in a creek. We lived in Cache Valley, Utah for a spell and could see the terraces left by Lake Bonneville. Highway 191 (?) passes right through the nick point where the lake began draining en masse. Cool part of the world you live in for sure.
    I was thinking about that last night. The amount of force required to move some of those rocks is mind-bending...

    Makes for some great riding though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of the Sage View Post
    Found some more boulders in the bottom of the canyon, including one that the trail goes through...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And a couple it goes over...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Now THAT looks fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Yep, geology is awesome.
    As someone who studied metamorphic petrology, that picture is awesome!

    Or gneiss as may be the case.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage of the Sage View Post
    Found some more boulders in the bottom of the canyon, including one that the trail goes through...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	53CA4651-E0E9-45D1-86C3-01BA84817595.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	126.0 KB 
ID:	1207601

    And a couple it goes over...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	63160351-B7FA-4618-BA6A-EADCB6492D8C.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	200.0 KB 
ID:	1207602
    Click image for larger version. 

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    So where are these trails, Sage? South of Twin Falls? In the Snake River Canyon? Or dloser to the NV border in the Owhee River Canyon?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    As someone who studied metamorphic petrology, that picture is awesome!

    Or gneiss as may be the case.


    Glad you enjoyed it. I found the overall experience there pretty gneiss for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob View Post
    So where are these trails, Sage? South of Twin Falls? In the Snake River Canyon? Or dloser to the NV border in the Owhee River Canyon?
    This is all at Auger Falls down in the Snake river canyon. Itís literally a ten minute drive from just about anywhere in Twin Falls.
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    Got a really good picture of the flood channel today from a new trail. You can see the depth and breadth quite well. Picture is taken facing north, and the river runs along the north wall of the canyon.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-f76908b4-9810-4fdd-b833-059a2c1c2de8.jpg
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    Here's a picture from one of the large outwash channels from the Missoula Floods in WA.

    Riding+Geology= awesome!!!-dusty-lake-ride.jpg
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

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