Photos of readers

August 30, 2019 • 2:30 pm

Don’t forget to send photos for the “photos of readers” feature: at most two, and preferably showing you doing something interesting or characteristic of your life.

Today’s photos come from a reader known as HBB. The details (indented) were sent four days ago. It’s appropriate (though unintentional) that I posted this exactly 110 years after Walcott discovered the first Burgess Shale fossils.

The story:  I turned 60 years old early this summer and as a gift, my spouse arranged a trip to the Burgess Shale site in the Canadian Rockies.  She also put together a 5-day backpacking trip in Banff National Park.  The first picture is of our group on July 14, 2019 at the “discovery site” about 20 minutes’ walk from the mother lode at the Walcott Quarry.  The weather was miserable – raining/snowing with temperatures near freezing.  Thunder in the area also shortened our stay at the quarry.  I’m on the right in the black cap holding a fossiliferous piece of shale.  Our excellent Parks Canada guide is gesticulating on the left.  We saw Opabinia, parts of Anomalocaris, some “worms,” sponges, and three different trilobites among other things.  Despite the poor weather, I really enjoyed seeing the fossils in person and I’d love to go back on a sunny day.

The second image is of me on July 18, 2019 at a trail junction on our backpacking trip.  Those are icicles forming on the trail sign.  The thick mud on the trails is indicative of “early spring” conditions in the area.  Such is mountain weather.

By the way, I began teaching my evolution course here at the University of South Dakota for the 21st time this morning.  I have to say that I still get a kick out of looking over the lecture materials and thinking about how to put it all together for the students.


16 thoughts on “Photos of readers

  1. So sorry you hit bad mountain weather. I have driven through Field BC the last three years enroute Calgary around the first of August. The weather all three trips has been sunny and warm. The sight around Field town on a sunny day is truly spectacular.

  2. Looks like a very interesting trip. The University of South Dakota also looks like a very special place where the population of the school is nearly the same as the population of the town.

    1. Props to Parks Canada: I did the PC Wolcott Quarry in 2011. Mid August in perfect weather. The fee is very reasonable for a full day guided hike [even without the favorable US/Canadian exchange]. Parks Canada take reservations staring in January of each year for the three guided hikes [also Stephens Quarry, just above Field, which lacks most soft-bodied fossils, but has superb trilobites, and Glacier Canyon, again less diverse but an easier hike not requiring a guide].

      Not sure if I was just lucky, but I got my preferred date for Wolcott Quarry a little over a month out. Also note that a private foundation takes hikes to both Wolcott and Stephens, at significantly higher fees.

      I should have gone back — probably can’t now, with age 75 limit for the private hikes and more importantly knee issues that even 8 years ago made the 2500 foot descent torturous.

      Sadly, I lost most of my pix from the expedition — one of two camera memory cards just disappeared days after I got back. No explanation, though I suspect that our Manxie Sierra pilfered the card as a play item.

      Even in 2011, there was high security at the quarry. Just a few days before our group hike, two Czech backpackers entered without permission and helped themselves to some fossils. They were on camera all the way, also tracked by telescope from Emerald Lake, and were met by Parks rangers at the trailhead. They got away briefly only to be captured in Field. One guy jumped in the Kickinghorse River with a rucksack full of rocks — not the best idea..

  3. Excellent pics HBB! You look cold.

    I’m on vacation till September 9, and one of my goals is to get a couple of snaps interesting enough to submit. So far, the readers have set a high bar.

    Off topic, I’m signing off Twitter till then. I use the medium to follow the #NeverTrumpers, but a need a break from the negativity.

  4. Thanks everyone for your nice comments and additions. I was on the road yesterday and could not reply in a timely fashion. As Loren pointed out, the Parks Canada makes it very enjoyable.

  5. The Walcott Quarry has got to be a peak experience for naturalists. Teaching evolution must be the best!

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