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New Canyon set to open to public

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Offline STARLITDARKNESS3

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New Canyon set to open to public
« on: November 11, 2007, 11:51:56 AM »
Texas Set to Open New Canyon to Public
October 5, 2007 - 10:21pm

By MICHELLE ROBERTS
Associated Press Writer

CANYON LAKE, Texas (AP) - Geologic time has a different meaning when it comes to Canyon Lake Gorge. You could say it dates to around the end of the Enron era.

A torrent of water from an overflowing lake sliced open the earth in 2002, exposing rock formations, fossils and even dinosaur footprints in just three days. Since then, the canyon has been accessible only to researchers to protect it from vandals, but on Saturday it opens to its first public tour.

"It exposed these rocks so quickly and it dug so deeply, there wasn't a blade of grass or a layer of algae," said Bill Ward, a retired geology professor from the University of New Orleans who started cataloging the gorge almost immediately after the flood.

The mile-and-a-half-long gorge, up to 80 feet deep, was dug out from what had been a nondescript valley covered in mesquite and oak trees. It sits behind a spillway built as a safety valve for Canyon Lake, a popular recreation spot in the Texas Hill Country between San Antonio and Austin.

The reservoir was built in the 1960s to prevent flash flooding along the Guadalupe River and to assure the water supply for central Texas. The spillway had never been overrun until July 4, 2002, when 70,000 cubic feet of water gushed downhill toward the Guadalupe River for three days, scraping off vegetation and topsoil and leaving only limestone walls.

"Underneath us, it looks solid, but obviously it's not," said Tommie Streeter Rhoad of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, as she looked out over a cream-colored limestone crevasse.

The sudden exposure of such canyons is rare but not unprecedented. Flooding in Iowa in 1993 opened a limestone gorge behind a spillway at Corvalville Lake north of Iowa City, but that chasm, Devonian Fossil Gorge, is narrower and shallower than Canyon Lake Gorge.

Neither compares to the world's most famous canyon. It took water around 5 million to 6 million years to carve the Grand Canyon, which plunges 6,000 feet at its deepest point and stretches 15 miles at its widest.

The more modest Canyon Lake Gorge still displays a fault line and rock formations carved by water that seeped down and bubbled up for millions of years before the flooding.

Some of the canyon's rocks are punched with holes like Swiss cheese, and the fossils of worms and other ancient wildlife are everywhere. The rocks, typical of the limestone buried throughout central Texas, date back "111 million years, plus or minus a few hundred thousand years," Ward said.

Six three-toed dinosaur footprints offer evidence of a two-legged carnivore strolling along the water. The footprints were temporarily covered with sand to protect them as workers reinforced the spillway, but they'll be uncovered again eventually, Rhoad said.

The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which has a lease from the Army Corps of Engineers to manage the 64-acre Canyon Lake Gorge site, will begin offering limited public tours of the canyon Saturday, continuing year-round on the first Saturday of the month.

Early demand for the 3-hour tours is so high they are booked for at least six months. Rhoad said the authority hopes to train more docents so dates can be added.

Visitors will not be allowed to hike the canyon on their own because the brittle limestone is still breaking from the canyon walls.

Construction on a rim trail to overlook the canyon begins this winter. Officials hope to eventually build lookout points and an educational center.

"Are we there yet?"  ... by my Kids

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BigBendHiker

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2007, 12:24:32 PM »
Thanks for posting.  Will add this one to our list of places to visit in the next few months.


BBH

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2007, 07:50:34 AM »
I remember the 4th of July flood of 2002 very well.  I lived in Canyon Lake for 5 years during that time and that was the worst in the lake's entire history.  The bridge that goes over the spillway was washed out and the "gorge" they're talking about has been closed to the public ever since. It will be cool to be able to visit finally.

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Offline westtex

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2007, 07:56:44 AM »
I went to the gorge right after the flood.  It is wayyy cool, I encourage anyone that is nearby to go have a look.
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Offline presidio

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2007, 02:11:46 PM »
Quote
Texas Set to Open New Canyon to Public
The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which has a lease from the Army Corps of Engineers to manage the 64-acre Canyon Lake Gorge site, will begin offering limited public tours of the canyon...

Rhoad said the authority hopes to train more docents so dates can be added.

Visitors will not be allowed to hike the canyon on their own because the brittle limestone is still breaking from the canyon walls.

What a shame. Another place added to the list of places you can't go without someone to lead you, guide you, hold your hand, watch over you. What is it about these park and park-type organizations that makes them think they have to do this to the public?

So it might be dangerous. Big deal. Going anywhere outdoors is potentially dangerous. Whatever happened to the idea of personal responsibility and, more importantly, a sense of adventure?

If we had to emigrate west today to populate the west, we'd never get there because that was extraordinarily dangerous relying on your own resources, compared to taking a short hike that now needs an escort. What a bunch of pansies.

I don't wish anyone harm, but if you're so stupid about the outdoors as to need somebody to hold your hand while taking any kind of hike, then maybe you just need to stay home and play video games.

I wonder when they'll institute the access fee to pay for all the unneeded 'help'?

I guess canned, controlled, choreographed hikes are the new 'wild' adventure where participants can pretend to be daring outdoors-people, while leaving all the planning and decision-making to the handlers who will determine the quality of experience and where they will lead the sheep. How pathetic.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2007, 11:59:59 PM by presidio »
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline xseption

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2007, 09:54:03 AM »
I am scheduled to be on tour in the Gorge on Nov 29.

:cool:
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Offline STARLITDARKNESS3

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2007, 11:08:12 PM »
I am scheduled to be on tour in the Gorge on Nov 29.

:cool:

Xseption, how was the tour?  Could you give us all a report? Pictures would be great.  THanks... 
"Are we there yet?"  ... by my Kids

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Offline xseption

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Re: New Canyon set to open to public
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2008, 11:57:40 AM »
I am scheduled to be on tour in the Gorge on Nov 29.

:cool:

Xseption, how was the tour?  Could you give us all a report? Pictures would be great.  THanks... 

I did not make the tour since I was called back to Dallas for an emergency. I have rescheduled and I hope to be there soon.

~ edd
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