Tumbler Ridge?s Walkley and Zimmer families have a passion for the outdoors, whether it is in the form of hiking, cross-country skiing, tubing the creeks or caving. Once dinosaur footprint discoveries were made in the area, they added a new kind of adventure: exploring the canyons for these and other fossils.
On one memorable day they were boulder-hopping up a previously unexplored canyon, when suddenly Ruth Walkley realized she had stumbled on something significant. On a beautifully rippled rock surface were a series of unmistakable dinosaur footprint impressions.
She describes the moment, ?I couldn’t believe my eyes! A whole trackway of dinosaur footprints on one rock, so very clear and obvious. The funny thing is that everyone else in our search party, Fred, Esther, Sheena, Sharai and Bruce were all ahead of me, making their way to the falls just beyond that is now called Ripple Rock falls. All of them, probably, had stepped on the rock as they moved up the creek. To this day, I’m sure, Bruce still thinks that he had a big part in the find because just as he lifted his toe off the rock with the prints to climb on, I noticed the prints and called Fred and then louder, FRED, COME LOOK AT THIS!?
Just downstream from this trackway is a shorter ankylosaur trackway. It is comprised of a series of natural casts, making for an impressive contrast with Ruth?s trackway, which consists of impressions in the rock surface. This one was discovered by nine year old Sheena Walkley. Sheena explains, ?I was just walking up the creek on the rocks when I looked down and saw that I was standing on some dinosaur tracks. I knew at once what I was looking at because I’ve seen lots of tracks before.?
When these discoveries were brought to the attention of the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation, palaeontologists Rich McCrea and Lisa Buckley, were taken to the site. McCrea comments, ?The information gathered from this ankylosaur trackway will add to our knowledge of the ankylosaurs that were once living in the area. The more information we have, the more accurate our interpretations are of the behavior and biology of these extinct animals. Discoveries like these, made by outdoor and fossil enthusiasts, are a great aid to palaeontologists.?
The Walkleys named the previously unnamed creek ?Everlasting Creek? for the succession of surprises and waterfalls seemingly around every corner. Just above Ruth?s trackway is an attractive waterfall which they named Ripple Rock Falls, behind which American Dippers nest, with a hummingbird nest close by. Like many of the trackway sites around Tumbler Ridge, this one is in an incredibly beautiful setting.
The heavily forested canyon is narrow and tight, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to helicopter the 2000 pound trackway slab out to the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre (as is being done with similar discoveries). Instead, the slab will be left in its natural setting for now.
The magnificent setting, combined with the impressive trackway, make this an ideal addition to the Cabin Pool and Wolverine sites which are popular destinations for the Museum Foundation?s dinosaur footprint tours. In this case, however, there are no plans to build a hiking trail. Rather, an existing game trail will be used, which leads close to the site. It is much steeper than the other trails, and rated as challenging. This weekly ?adventure tour? will only be offered to groups of fit individuals, but the reward will be well worth the effort.
Thanks to these passionate explorers, a more complete picture of the Tumbler Ridge dinosaurs is emerging, and residents and visitors will have another magical site to explore.