Friday October 31, 2014

Big Muddy Badlands


A badland is a type of dry terrain in which softer rocks and clay-rich soils have been eroded by wind and water. Canyons, ravines, gullies and other such geological forms are common in badlands. Badlands are often difficult to navigate by foot. They normally have a spectacular colour display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.

Last week the grade 10 students from Gordon F Kells got to experience badlands first hand. They took a brief camping trip to The Big Muddy Badlands, a couple of hours away.

The Big Muddy is a series of badlands on the southern side of the province. They are found in the Big Muddy Valley, a breach of erosion and sandstone along Big Muddy Creek. The valley is 55 kilometres long, 3.2 kilometres wide and 160 metres deep.

The valley was formed during part of an ancient glacial meltwater river of sorts that carried large quantities of water southeastward during the last ice age.

Nineteen kilometres south of Bengough on Highway 34 is Castle Butte, a 230 ft high outcrop of sandstone and compressed clay which protrudes from the flat prairie.

In the early twentieth century the Badlands formed the north end of the Outlaw Trail, a number of paths and rest areas used by outlaws in the American West going from Canada to Mexico. Outlaws including Dutch Henry and his brother Coyote Pete, Sam Kelly, the Pigeon Toed Kid, and the infamous Sundance Kid were often found in the area.

Today the area relies on ranching and tourism, such as our campers, as it has a very small population.

The students enjoyed two days of camping in the badlands. Their trip included visits to the Marshall cemetery, a lot of hiking, exploring caves and visiting what Saskatchewan’s nature had to offer. Despite the weather, the group enjoyed the excursion but were also grateful to return to full indoor plumbing.

“I ate prairie oysters while I was there. They weren’t the worst thing I ever had,” says Rachel Corrigan, a grade 10 student at Gordon F Kells. “Mr. Howe fried them in a pan on the barbeque. They weren’t bad, probably won’t eat them again though.”

If you are interested in visiting the Big Muddy or the town of Coronach, guided tours are the best way to see it all. Four different tours are available to suit your needs, with the longest tour being about 180 km round trip and allows you to visit nine different sites, within approximately six or seven hours, and the shortest tours taking four hours. Private tours are offered from May long weekend until September 30, at whatever time is suitable for the guide and tourists. Van tours are scheduled to go out every day in the months of July and August and leave at 9:30 a.m. from the Coronach Golf Clubhouse.



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