When you look down Red Rock Canyon towards the parking lot, it appears the green Earth busted an angry vein and ripped open its heart to blue sky and mountains. We were confronted by this rocky bloody slash in the earth, after driving 15 km. through
Blakiston Valley, along a winding, peaceful road in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.
It’s initially startling to see Red Rock Canyon.
Although the red-purple canyon walls are dry under the blazing sun, the vivid colours draw you in, like a bumpy, long and multi-hued bruise.
What makes some of the rock redness strange, is the rock, Grinnell argillite, when it gets wet, has a slick, earthy terra-red colour. From afar, the water mirrors like strange, deep red blood oozing from underneath the ground. But closer, it’s just clear water skimming over the rocks. Under the right natural light, the glacial water shimmers deep turquoise-indigo blue– like a jewel backlit by a mauve canvas.
We walked along a path that edges the whole red lip of the canyon. The hiking guide book said it was a 20 minute hike. Right.
I must have loitered around Red Rock Canyon for almost 2 hrs. to shoot photos. A few people dragged down their tripods and SLR cameras onto the canyon floor. Others
Eons ago a river, now reduced to stream, carved out a canyon. Since the canyon is near the junction of two mountain passes and valleys, it was a popular stopping site for the aboriginals and later, for explorers.
We were there during early September. At this time in late summer, the stream was at its lowest point which was ideal for bedrock wandering. And less pools of blood stream water trickery bubbling over the stones.
Red Rock Canyon is ringed by mountain peaks thrusting up, some with red-green striations. Argillite rock was created millions of years ago from hardened mud. Both colours are caused by iron deposit where red mineral, hermatite is the oxidized state, whereas green is chlorite mineral that is the unoxidized state.
Our 9 km. hike from the canyon area through the valley forest, was graced with ever-changing views of mountains with red mauve blush of argillite across some of peaks, peeping through some hanging valleys and forested sides.
Red Rock Canyon –a place to hang out under different light play and seasons without snow cover. A place that vibrates in life colour and conjures up metaphors of menstruation, Earth heart line, rippling rock musculature and mountain pulse.
Parks Canada. Waterton’s Scenic Parkways. Includes some advice. Parks Canada manages Canada’s official national parks.
Waterton Lakes National Park: Geology and Geomorphology.