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"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Slot Canyons are Magnificient Manifestation of Erosion

┬ęBert Gildart: Over the millions of years, lands now forming California’s Anza Borrego State Park have hosted many inland seas, all which have left massive deposits that have eventually eroded into areas now referred to as badlands. Badlands, of course, are areas that have subsequently experienced immense erosion and much of that has manifested itself in the form of “slot canyons.”

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Slot canyons should be hiked slowly

Here, in one of our nation’s largest state parks, there are many such canyons, and one is located just a few miles from Peg Leg campground. We accessed this particular slot following a five mile drive toward Salton Sea, and then taking a spur road that dropped down a boulder-strewn road. Following a mile of bumpy driving, we came to a trailhead, and that’s the point from which we began our hike.

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Engulfed in Slot Canyon

SLOT NARROWS

At first the trail entered a wide open canyon, but within several hundred yards the walls began to squeeze in. Before long, the walls were such that we could spread our arms and touch either side. As well, the walls meandered — twisting and turning sharply. In other places, boulders fallen from above blocked our way necessitating a real scramble or a short climb.

Other than enjoying the beauty of such an erosional feat, our main objective was photography, and Eric Hansen had ideas he shared with our small group which consisted of Dan and Nancy and me.

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Sharing ideas

As well, we had ideas of our own and we in turn shared those.

Photography in such an area can be challenging. Extremely slow shutter speeds are required, and that means a tripod as well as a cable release.

MOONRISE

We spent much of the late afternoon hiking the area and were rewarded at day’s end with a rising moon. I exposed for the moon, and allowed the rocks to go a little darker. By using PhotoShop, I was able to add a little detail to areas that would otherwise have been blocked by shadows.

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Moonrise over slot canyon

We all agreed, the afternoon had been well spent and we returned with a great appreciation of the erosive capabilities of wind and rain, and occasionally, freezing and thawing. Raw as these badlands may be, they retain much beauty.

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THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Desert Details (Anza Borrego)

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2 Responses to “Slot Canyons are Magnificient Manifestation of Erosion”

  1. Rich Charpentier Says:

    Ah Bert….that’s one of the canyons I’m planning on visiting when I hit Borrego in a few weeks. Can’t wait to get out there, and you’re just helping to build the anticipation!

  2. Peter Says:

    I’m a layman, but to my untrained eye it appears that slot canyons are at least as likely to be formed by cracks in rock formations caused by local uplift, thence moderate erosion, but on a much smaller time scale than you suppose. I believe that if you look closely at the structure of the canyon walls, you will find the idea of bazillions of years of erosion and sedimentation less likely than you appear to now. That said,
    your pictures are lovely and I appreciate you sharing them on the web! Best wishes.

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