Before Humans Arrived

The Pre-History

During the 1980s, Michael J. Fox starred in a series of “Back To The Future” movies which proved to be quite popular. I remember hearing many conversations about what period a person would like to experience if time travel were really a possibility. I invite you to allow your imaginations to wander and to imagine what we R-Ranch Pardners would see if we traveled back 180 to 250 million years ago to Johnsondale. This period was known as the Triassic Age when Johnsondale, as well as all of California, was entirely covered by ocean water and part of the continental shelf. At this time in other parts of the country and world, dinosaurs were roaming the earth. Since the R-Ranch was entirely covered by ocean, where did all the mountains come from that surround us today?

If we hop back into our “time-machine” and move forward to the Cretaceous Age (65-145 million years ago), and if we could observe what was happening under the water that still covered the Ranch, we would see the birth of our granite mountains. The plates that make up the bottom of the ocean floor are in motion causing liquid rocks to form. It takes between 1 and 10 million years for these molten rocks to cool, which causes coarse crystals to develop into what is known as Plutonic rocks (named after Pluto, god of the underworld). The continuing movement of the ocean-floor plates raised these underwater-rocks up out of the water to form our mountains. Throughout the ages, the action of weather, rain, wind, etc. wore off all the overlay that the original rocks had, leaving the massive granite as we see it today.


One Million Years Ago

If we now continue our travel “back to the future” and arrive at the Ranch 1 million years ago, we would see that the ocean had receded. The glaciers from the Sierras did not travel as far south as Johnsondale. The mountains were not as high as they are today because erosion is not keeping pace with the continuing uplift of the mountains. The rivers were much more significant and flowing with abundant water due to glacial runoff and the enormous amount of rain. The Sequoia forest and other flora were similar to those in the Yukon and southern Alaska area. The R-Ranch had a cold-climate type of vegetation, redwoods, and evergreen pine. There was no manzanita or oak. Even the animals were different: the saber-tooth tiger was abundant as well as the dire wolf, a type of ice-age wolf. It was during this period that humans (Homo Sapiens) made their appearance.

 

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