Thursday, October 1, 2015

Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracks (& a Scary Fall), 9/21/2015

When we visited the Moab Visitor Center, we purchased a brochure ($2.99) about dinosaur tracks in the area surrounding Moab. Below is a list of the six sites and the length of the hike.
  • Poison Spider Dinosaur Tracksite, (.5 mi),
  • Willow Springs Dinosaur Tracksite, (.12 mi),
  • Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail (.25 mi),
  • Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracks/Trail (.5 mi),
  • Dinosaur Stomping Ground (3 mi.), and 
  • Bull Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite (.25 mi).
Detailed information about each (trailhead location, directions from Moab, site attractions) can be found in the brochure. Some are accessed on unpaved roads. 

After visiting some rock art, we made our way to the Poison Spider Tracksite (about 6 miles north on UT 191, left on UT 279 for 6 more miles). There are two rock slabs with footprints the contain tracks of 10 different meat-eating dinosaurs, ranging in size from 17" to nearly 5' at the hips. Not sure how this was determined, but it is believed that the animals were walking at about 3 miles per hour.

Below are photos of the upper part of the cliff where the tracks can be found, the trail, and a view of the Colorado River from the cliff. 

While ascending the trail, Sadie (our doggy) spotted this Western Gopher Snake slithering in the rocks. They are constrictors (not venomous), hunt small rodent and birds, and can grow to 8'. 

The area around Moab was covered in huge sand dunes (about 190 million years ago) with wet sand, shallow ponds, and small streams. The dinosaurs that walked the flats left their footprints that were covered by the shifting sand. This preserved the tracks turning the stone into blocks where the tracks can be seen day. First are two photos of the upper block.

And these two photos are of the lower block at this site.

John and I both enjoy imagining what it must have been like in this region those many millions of years ago. It is wonderful to see the physical evidence of those times. 

We were hiking along a nearby trail when it happened...a freak accident causing me to plunge headfirst toward the edge of the cliff seen below.  

I was hiking along a very narrow part of the path wearing my sturdy and well-used North Face hiking boots. I put my right foot directly in front of my left foot (single file). The loop at the heel of my right boot (shown here); 

Got caught on the top hook (for laces) of my left boot; 

And the result was that my two boots latched together; 

Causing me to tumble headfirst towards the ledge (center of photo).

Fortunately, my head slide into a rock stopping my downward progression towards the edge. I was not seriously injured but had brush burns on both arms and legs, some lumps on my head, a very sore neck (still have that), and a swollen wrist (still have that, too). We went to the doctor the next day and the x-ray he ordered showed that it was only a sprain. He gave me some meds for my neck and I just need to wear a splint on my wrist for a few weeks. John rescued my glasses; and my camera was not damaged (yay!)

Unfortunately, this little incident curtailed our exploration of the remaining sites. We'll see them the next time we are in this part of the country. So the lesson learned is this, DON'T BUY HIKING BOOTS WITH HOOKS (eyelets are preferred). Also, I did not have my boots laces all the way to the top hook, and this is ultimately what likely caused that accident to happen. So, if you have hiking boots with hooks, be sure to lace them all the way to the top. 

Additional information about the dinosaur tracksites around Moab can be found at the website below.


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