Stone Tree

“How tall we stand. Just like a stone tree deep in this land.”

Bill Miller

We had another great day of hiking today! Our destination was Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. This was a new NPS site for us and I’m glad we dedicated a day to it. If you come here looking for fossils you may be a bit disappointed, but the hiking is excellent!

Once again, I hadn’t really looked into the significance of this monument. I mainly chose it as a destination since it would be a new stamp for the passports and it provided the opportunity for an 8 mile hike with 800 feet of gain and at altitude of almost 9,000 feet. Getting aclimated to the elevation can be one of the hardest adaptations to hiking out here, but it didn’t seem to phase any of us today.

After gearing up we began at the visitor center, where they had a table of fossils that may have been from the area. We pretty quickly proceeded to the hiking trail and spotted the fossils the park was really established for, the stumps of Redwood trees. I had no idea that these trees were once native to Colorado, much less most of North America, Europe, and Asia. Of course the Earth had a much different climate 30 million years ago, but it was dramatic to see how much their range has shrunk.

The stumps were really impressive – they were the size of cars! We also learned about the history of some of the people who developed and studied the area. It was also in this area that we met a ranger who told us that his great uncle was Albert Michelson. Apparently this is going to be the trip where we meet a bunch of people who have connections to the world of physics!

Samuel Scudder – Your man for fossil identification and rockin’ sideburns.

We walked around the inner loop of the park and saw several more petrified redwoods before making our way to the outer ring of trails. While not quite like the hiking encountered in truly mountainous terrain we did get some whiffs of pine and some minor switchbacks.

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