ent up Buller Creek recently, not to Buller Pass, North Buller Pass, Red Peak or any other mountain. We trudged all the way up the north fork to look at rocks. For years, our geologist friend Gord had been urging us to visit this particular Devonian reef, some of which are reservoirs for oil and gas, though not this one.
A few comments first. At the new bridge over Buller Creek we crossed the proposed line of the High Rockies Trail at red pin flags. There’s also a connector from farther back along the trail. Looks terrible ground to run a trail along, all mossy and bumpy with deadfall. Farther on, the arnicas were in full flower among the black trees of the burn set a few years ago. The burn extends to treeline and eastwards at a higher level to the T-junction of Buller Pass and North Buller Pass trails. This definitely lessens the scenic attraction of the waterfall and pool just before the junction.
Leaving the burn behind, we walked up North Buller Pass trail, and after passing the waterfall headed up the scree of the left hillside to cliffs and oddly-shaped hoodoos of dark grey and brown limestone of the late Devonian Cairn Formation. Close up, the rock is riddled with windows Gord says were likely pockets of organic material that naturally weathered out, a little different to the windows we usually see that have been eroded out by rain and frost. Spent a couple of hours lurching around on loose stuff between hoodoos admiring in situ examples of amphiporas which were invertebrates that grew in “thickets in quiet back-reef lagoons” when the future Alberta was located close to the equator and the climate was tropical. They are a form of Stromatoporoids, now known to belong to the sponge family. It was interesting to learn that late in the Devonian, a catastrophe of some kind — the latest thought is that it was a meteorite strike — wiped out many of the invertebrates that perhaps perished from lack of oxygen in the water.
One last comment. The scree we were lurching around on was loaded with fossils—nearly every rock exhibited amphipora or corals. But there is no need to climb that high; the fossiliferous scree extends down into the trees, even into the creekbed.
Take a look at the excellent book Alberta beneath our feet: The Story of Our Rocks and Fossils, editor Brian Hitchon, publisher Geoscience Publishing. The book is out of print, but available at 9 libraries in Calgary.