Talking Rock Tours 2018

Feet and Miles Tour, April 15-22. This tour maximizes the hiking. In Bryce, we’ll do 8 miles. In Buckskin, we’ll cover 21 miles. At Grand Canyon, we do a ten and a twenty mile hike. The formal geology instruction will be concentrated in the first couple of days.

Itinerary. Snow Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway, Buckskin Gulch, Grand Canyon.

Geology and Campfires Tour. April 29-May 6. Same campgrounds as the above tour. But the hiking will be limited to five or six miles/day max. A more leisurely pace overall. Better food.  More time for interaction with our geology professor, Gerry Bryant.

God, Rocks, and Souls Tour. Five days in Death Valley. Wednesday evening through Sunday morning, May 9-13. Darwin Falls. Eureka Dunes. Badwater. Canyon treks. Geology. God. Desert/Nature Spirituality.

For information or reservations: or 253-350-1211.


Itinerary, Miles and Feet Tour

April 15 – 22, 2018

The focus of this tour is hiking. Yes, we’ll talk geology. We’ll notice geology. We’ll visit dinosaur tracks. And we’ll hike. Lots of hiking.

Bryce Canyon. Buckskin Gulch (a slot canyon). Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway. Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Grand Canyon.

To the bottom of Grand Canyon.

Here’s the itinerary.

Sunday. Arrive in St. George, Utah.
By air: Fly to Las Vegas and take a shuttle to St. George.

Sunday afternoon. Explore Snow Canyon State Park on your own. Lava caves, sandstone exposures, sandy washes.

Sunday evening. Camp in Snow Canyon. Lecture: Geology 101 and local geology.

Monday morning. Hike to Snow Canyon petroglyphs. Led by Gerry Bryant. Geology: Erosion, lava flows, topographic inversion, lag deposits, desert varnish, diagenic color changes.

Monday afternoon. Contact between the Kayenta and Navajo formations. Drive to Bryce Canyon.

Monday night. Camp at Bryce Canyon. (No showers.)

Tuesday morning. Dawn on the rim. After breakfast: Intro to local geology. Midday: Hike eight miles.

Tuesday afternoon. Drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

Tuesday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Wednesday morning. Dawn at the dunes.

Wednesday midday: Moccasin Mountain Dinosaur Trackway.

Local exploring of dunes, creek beds, and peaks.

Wednesday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Thursday. Buckskin Gulch. 20 mile hike.

Thursday night. Camp at Coral Pink.

Friday morning. Drive to Grand Canyon.

Friday afternoon. Hike to Plateau Point. Eleven miles round trip. 3000 feet of elevation gain.

Sabbath. Hike to the bottom of Grand Canyon. Down South Kaibab, up Bright Angel. Fifteen miles, 5000 feet of elevation gain.

Sunday morning. Drive to Las Vegas airport.

Cost: $600. Includes local transportation, food, entrance and camping fees, geology professor.

Contact info:  John McLarty. 253-350-1211.



Burroughs Mtn Neighborhood

It’s geology, all right. Lave flows, gravity flows (rock falling to pieces and creeping down cliff and down slope just because gravity says so), pumice drapes, stream-cut channels and sediment-filled basins–all under a sky preparing for the evening’s star show, lit by the last light of our local star, the star that beckons the moisture up from the ocean’s surface which is dropped as snow and collects here and turns into sculpting glaciers or streams. It’s geology at its best and most glorious.


Talking Rocks Tours

We study rocks, of course.

On some of our tours we run trails, ten to twenty miles a day.

On some of our tours we take a meditative approach. Slow, leisurely departures. Desultory walks savoring the glory of places and the company of people.

We are even working on a tour that allows people to stay in motels and “do the outdoors” only during the day.

On all of our tours, there is rich conversation and laughter. Under the stars, over lunch, while washing dishes, around the campfire.


Adventist and Scientist

In a recent Facebook conversation with a minister, I made the point that nearly all Adventists who attend Adventist schools through college and then go on to complete a Ph.D. in biology or the earth sciences reject a short geochronology–whether that is a chronology of all matter or of just the phanerozoic rocks.

In response the minister said he didn’t see why a Christian would study biology or geology since it is a known fact that those sciences undermine belief in the literal historicity of Genesis 1-9.

The conversation between us was courteous and respectful throughout, but once I clearly understood his idea that certain sciences should be precluded from Christian study, I realized there was no point in talking further. I value science as a tool for investigating the world–even when the truth it reveals corrects my understanding of the Bible. He believes that science is a useful tool for investigation the world only if the truth it reveals agrees with what we already know from the Bible.

I do not know how to bridge that chasm.


Dinosaur Track, Valley of Fire

Yesterday morning I went looking for a set of dinosaur tracks I photographed last year.


(Actually, I don’t know what kind of animal it was, but it was contemporaneous with dinosaurs.) My camera had recorded the GPS coordinates. However, I was unable to find it this year.

But while looking for the tracks pictured above, I spotted another track way made by a larger animal. A real dinosaur, this time, I think. (You might need to play with the angle of your screen to see it clearly.) Note the rings around the heel. This is characteristic of the deformation caused by a foot stepping in moist sand.

IMG_20170706_VoF Dino

Most likely, the print we are seeing does not include the top layers of the original track. Those layers are missing and what we are seeing is the print made in layers below the surface as the pressure was transmitted down.

The Navajo Sandstone is full of animal tracks. These were not dead animals washed together into a heap by a flood or The Flood. They were living animals running around.


The pictures were taken in Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The official name of the sandstone here is the Aztec Sandstone, but it is now recognized as an extension of the Navajo.




The Bible and Geology (and science in general)

Yesterday, I preached a sermon that addressed the role of secular knowledge.

The video is here:

Sermon at Green Lake Church, June 17, 2017

I also wrote a manuscript, but in this case, I think the spoken sermon is far more pointed and captures what I was intending to say, than the written sermon. In short: I referenced the Bible’s description of Solomon’s wisdom for which he is so celebrated. His wisdom was entirely secular. First, it was knowledge of the natural world–what we would call science (1 Kings 4:29). Second it was political or judicial (1 Kings 3:16). Kings in the region sent ambassadors to “go to school” under Solomon. The ambassadors were not coming for sermons. They were coming for lessons in natural science and political science. Once in Jerusalem they would be exposed to the spiritual treasures of Israel, but they came because of Solomon’s secular knowledge–knowledge that could be validated or falsified by direct experience.

Today, we who are believers can hope to gain a hearing among nonbelievers if we demonstrate solid competence in areas of secular knowledge.  When we demonstrate incompetence in areas of secular knowledge, we undermine our overall credibility. Why would someone listen to us speak about God, the highest of all truth claims, if we demonstrate stubborn resistance to truth in areas open to investigation and direct observation.

This is where we stand as a church in regard to our current “Adventist geology.” Adventist geology is demonstrably false. Noah’s Flood did not create the Phanerozoic portion of the geologic column. (“Phanerozoic” refers to the portion of the geologic column in which fossils are abundant.)

Noah’s Ark in the Navajo

The picture below was sent to me by Tom Anderson, one of the participants in our 2017 Talking Rocks Tour. He noted that he had been so preoccupied with looking for dinosaur tracks that he failed to see the obvious feature on the sky line. It was only after he arrived home and was reviewing his photos that he realized he had a picture of Noah’s Ark.  Hope you can join us for the next tour, this fall or next spring. Who knows what we might find.  🙂

2017_Geo_Trip (22) groupShot (1)

Stories within Stories (and mysteries aplenty)

I came across this rock east of Austin, Nevada.


I don’t recall ever seeing anything just like it. This was at a small quarry and the material appeared to be useful for fill or maybe road surfacing. My first impression was this was fossiliferous limestone. However, when I looked closely, the features that I imagined to be shell fragments gave no evidence of being shells. Instead, they appeared to be shards of limestone in a matrix of gritty limestone. The outcrop was a limestone breccia. (I spent a little while scouring the area looking for fossils. I did not find any fossils.)

There is a story here. My read: Limey mud was deposited. This requires still water, not flowing water. The mud was exposed to air and through evaporation began hardening into limestone–a process that would work its way from the surface downward. After the surface (millimeters to a centimeter) hardened, a flood shattered the surface and swept the mixture of limey mud and limestone shards together into another slack water area where the material settled. Again, it was exposed to air and through evaporation began again the process of turning into the rock we see today.

Polemic Note: When Sean Pittman writes that the carbonate interdune deposits (these are limestones containing varying proportions of sand) form by “settling” from the waters of the flood he is ignoring the limey breccias that are sometimes found on these interdune deposits. These breccias are evaporite deposits–skins of hard carbonate that formed over soft mud, skins that there then broken up by wind action and pushed to the lee side of the interdune surface where they resumed their drying and hardening. This is not readily reconciled with Flood geology.