Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 USASA Nationals Recap Part 2: "Look! Rocks!"


I arrived in Colorado on Wednesday, March 28. After unloading my gear in the room and meeting with Jb (who had just finished practice day #1 on the boardercross course), we left Copper Mountain to run some errands. Through this particular area of the country, I-70 is one of the most spectacular drives because of the geology.



Waterfalls near Vail
My face was pretty much glued to the window during the entire drive, and every time we drove by a distinct feature (waterfall, rock layers, etc.) one or both of us would point and shout, “Look! Rocks!” We had some errands to run in Vail, and in between Vail and Copper there were some gorgeous waterfalls along the road, which were more like ice falls at this time of year. Jb pulled off of the highway so I could take some photos.

The drive in between Copper and Vail primarily cuts through the Pennsylvanian-Permian Maroon formation, which formed from sediment debris that washed off of the mountain range that existed in this region prior to the current-day Rockies. The Maroon formation (essentially pre-Rockies mountain debris) is a dull red sandstone and conglomerate interlayered with red shale. The layers underneath the Maroon are Pennsylvanian brown and gray sandstone and shale. Closer to Copper Mountain, glacial deposits at the top of the mountains cover the older rocks so it’s more difficult to see the layers.

Rock layers and waterfalls along I-70 between Copper and Vail. 
Yes, there were two huge mountain ranges in the same spot, well before the Rocky Mountains arrived. These pre-Rockies mountains formed during the Pennsylvanian, roughly ~300 million years ago, and eroded over time though the end of the Permian (245 million years ago). Then during the Cretaceous (146-65 million years ago), mountain building began again in Colorado and brought us the Rockies. Thank goodness for those tectonics…because of Earth moving around and working its crust, we have some spectacular mountains to ride.

Start of boardercross course at Copper Mountain with gorgeous view.

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