Friday, August 9, 2013

Jasper Forest - a photo documentary

What a good gig I have, working 32 hours a week for free RV space in one of the country's most beautiful neighborhoods. Considering that most of the time the job is rewarding, challenging, and fun, how could it be any better than this? 

Today, on my day off, when the rest of the working world was clock-watching, I drove to the Jasper Forest, once upon a time called the First Forest because it was the first large accumulation of petrified wood reached when traveling from Adamana, a stop on the Santa Fe railroad. Adam Hanna, entrepreneur and capitalist, conducted tours to the First Forest (Jasper), the Second Forest (Crystal Forest), and the Third Forest (Rainbow Forest). I've been to all three forests and Jasper is, in my opinion, the most spectacular. It has the most impressive concentration of petrified wood and the most colorful.

Bill the paleontologist led a group there early on in my sojourn here. It's been on my repeat list and today was the day. All I wanted to do was document the variety of wood found there so here is a sample:


OD green. Kind of unusual.

I just came across a 1950s visitor brochure called Agatized Rainbows. I see where someone would call it that.

It looks like regular wood, doesn't it?

This is the kind of rock I'd choose if I was in the market for arrowhead-making material.

This had tiny crystals that sparkled in the light.

Doesn't this look like wood chips from a chopping block? It's called "lithic scatter."

Lots of crystals on this one. Very pretty.


Soil legs will eventually wash away.

A close up of a larger piece.

There are many of these larger pieces around, most of them being about hip-high on me.

It's nearly impossible to walk without stepping on a dozen pieces.

I know visitors don't get all they can from the park. They have agendas. Vacation time is limited. There are other priorities. I was at Painted Desert Inn one day and a man was shouting at his family to hurry up. "We have to get to the Grand Canyon!" It really is a shame, and Jasper Forest is a case in point. There's an overlook that people spend maybe five minutes at, snapping pictures like this,

when this is what the Forest looks like on the ground, and anyone can go down into the valley to see it first hand. Every one of those dimensional items is petrified wood, and you've seen what it looks like when you're walking all over it.

[edited 8/10 to add this:]
The colors of the petrified wood are determined by the minerals present when the wood was undergoing the long process of petrification.
Red, tan, orange, purple, pink, and yellow - iron in a ferric state. 
Green - copper, chromium, and iron in a ferrous state.
Blue - copper and iron in a ferrous state.
Black and gray - carbon and manganese.

The difference between ferric and ferrous has to do with the oxidation state. That's the extent of my knowledge, with thanks to Wikipedia.


Thought of the day:

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. (Miriam Beard)