Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bald Eagle State Park

It was 70° F this past Friday as we headed out for a nice spring weekend getaway in central Pennsylvania. The "PA Wilds" area as they like to call it, in north central Pennsylvania. We stayed at the very nice Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park. Five of us, myself and four women, for a weekend of kayaking, hiking, and enjoying the start of spring.

But nature had other plans.

That's our friend Marie's car with both the kayak and they snow on it. (My new ride is in the background.) We didn't get much snow but it was enough to reinforce the idea that it was still winter in this neck of the woods.

We did a bit of hiking. And we took a tour of a local distillery, sampling their wares, to keep warm of course.

And we went fossiling. Saturday morning the park had a program on finding fossils that we took part in. And we found fossils. Marie in particular had a good eye for the small shells that made up the majority of what we found. But we all found stuff.

Here we are off to search for ancient treasures. That's Pat and Eleni in front with Marie a bit behind (Patty was in the room taking a nap!). We were headed down to the lake. The lake is a flood control lake maintained by the Army Corp of Engineers. The water level is lowered each spring in anticipation of snow melt, but as there was little snow this year the lake shore was extended, exposing all manner of things, including fossils.

In fact, when we asked about the fossiling possibilities at the park, Cody, the fellow who checked us in when we first arrived, told us we could find old fishing gear that had been dropped into the lake, bicycles (!), and even shoes and boots, including baby shoes. He assured us that the bodies would not be attached said footwear.

And sure enough one of the first things Pat found was a child's sneaker. She was quite proud of this find, as can be seen in the image below.

Image Courtesy Marie Raupp
But all of those rocks at her feet, and up and down the lake shore, held real fossils. We just had to find them. Here are some I found.

This is a typical find, with brachiopods (shell like items) and crinoids (tube like items).

Another brachiopod.

We also found corals, some of which are shown in the following two images.

The park employee who led the expedition, alas I've forgotten his name, called fossils "snapshots of an ancient world". So the image below would thus be a snapshot of the sea floor 500 million or so years ago.

All these fossils are from the Devonian period, long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. To me, the prize fossil from this period would be a trilobite, which can be and have been found at the park. But they are rare finds. But I looked and looked. And I found several intriguing fossils. Including ...

Perhaps a trilobite head?

A tail, surrounded by brachiopods?

An imprint of the body?

Tantalizing yet ultimately unsatisfying finds. I'll just have to keep searching.

Other finds included this odd item. Here is the "top" view:

And now the "bottom":

  More coral.

And these two, which I'm not sure of what they are.

Most of these were sizable chucks of stone, too heavy in aggregate to carry back to the lodge. And as this site is a state park one isn't supposed to collect fossils anyway. So what I have are these images. The fossils are still on the lake shore. Waiting for others, (perhaps you?), to find them.

Good luck. And I hope you find a trilobite!

No comments: