Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Geologic Hazards of Utah!

Geology is not your friend.

There is perhaps no other "ology" out there that is trying so hard at any given moment to kill you. Even "murderology" isn't trying as hard. The problem is that geology has so many opportunities that the chances of escaping its murderous grasp seem slim. You can fall into it, you can fall onto it, you can fall off of it, heck, you can't fall anywhere without geology there trying to get a piece of the action.

Our tale today is one of caution. While it may seem impossible to escape geology's sinister clutches, the fact is that most of us will die from causes largely unrelated to geology or any geological process. Why is that? My friends, the answer is one of caution. In general, people are fairly cautious when it comes to geology.

The scene of our tragic tale is beautiful Kodachrome Basin in middlish Utah....somewhere.

The first thing you will notice when you step out into Kodachrome Basin is that you are surrounded by sandstone doing crazy things. Namely, forming large spires and peaks. Males may feel somewhat uncomfortable, but don't worry. Geology may be trying to kill you, but it's not competing with you for mates. The unusual spires....

are a bit of an oddity to geologists. Namely, they don't seem to know why they are there. For some reason certain sections of the sandstone are more resistant to weathering than the other sections and so they remained after all the nearby sandstone went the way of the dodo. Some folks believe that these sections used to be geysers, and the geyser water cemented the sandstone together, a-like so...

The rest of the people don't really care. How do I turn the date off on this camera? I hate this thing so much. Anyway, this post is about the dangers of geology, not about how much I hate my camera. Although it could be.

Geology, like most things, becomes dangerous once we let our guard down. It's like a cat, or an elderly relative. We grow used to having them around us, them BLAM! Someone's soiled a rug. And so it was with geology and three unfortunate fellows on a night just like tonight. Except back in 1954.

This is Bull Valley Gorge.

Bull Valley Gorge is a tight, winding slot canyon, one of many such affairs located in and around Kodachrome Basin. On the surface, it's no wider than 5 to 10 feet, but at a depth of nearly 200 feet it's a hazard waiting to become.....hazardous.

Three men were driving around the area in a new 1954 pickup truck without a care in the world. Some versions of the story say that they had been drinking fairly heavily, but I can't verify that. What we can be sure of is that they were having a grand old time. Unfortunately for them something else was out that night. Geology. Their truck sped along the dirt road until they came to the bridge that crossed Bull Valley Gorge. They crossed the bridge and started up the hill on the other side when something went wrong. For whatever reason, the truck stalled and began to roll backwards. Maybe it was bad gas, maybe it was faulty spark plugs, I don't know. But back the truck rolled.....right off the edge of the canyon.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "how is this geology's fault? It seems to me that it is guilty of nothing more than just existing". And you're right, it's not directly geology's fault. But that's what so insidious about geology. It always seems to be in just the right spot at just the right time to catch us unawares. And so it did to those three men. The truck plunged down a good 60 feet into the gorge before it became wedged in the narrowing walls. Two of the men fell out of the truck at this point and continued down to the floor of the canyon over a hundred feet away. The third gentleman remained in the truck. Sadly, all three of the men died, with the body of the fellow in the truck not being retrieved until the next spring. The truck was a different matter. Like some chubby kid trying to squeeze through a fence, the truck was stuck tight. And so, they left it.

And so it remained. Later, it became the base of a newer, better bridge that now crosses the gorge. All they did was shove a bunch of dirt and branches on top of the truck and BAM! New bridge.

And so we leave Kodachrome Basin with a message of caution. Geology can create incredible vistas, breath-taking canyons, and mediocre hills. But to the unwary, it is a childish imp, nipping at our heels. Wow, the Nite-Quil just kicked in. Look at that imp go! What a jerk.


Emily said...

I was JUST THINKING about that truck the other day. no joke. Mind meld, scott. Mind meld.

Also, fantastic post.

Cheetah said...

Ha! Right? I don't know why I suddenly remember this thing. I have a ton of pictures from it if you want them. Most of them are of Cosmo though.