Canyons less traveled

As Joan and I continue to explore this magical area called the Colorado Plateau, we continue to find more places we have not seen and away from the well-known spots. And it does not take long to travel to them.

From the time we left our home and pulling into a camp spot for the evening on a dirt road, it took two hours total, including a gas stop.

I still remember dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic on a Friday night leaving Boulder, wondering if I’d find a parking spot, and essentially writing off anything within two hours of my home without some creative shifting of hours within my limited time budget.

I never tire of getting giddy at the fact that we can access so much public land and so quickly.

We almost always camp out on the Friday before a backpacking trip. We find an additional night out in the quiet beauty of the high desert extends the weekend and makes time spent out there that much more memorable.  And we never find any difficulty finding a spot for a quick evening camp.

These quick camps also give us easy morning access to the canyons for a morning descent.

Joan in her happy place – Looking at maps and plotting out a route in the canyon.

We can quickly leave our camp and be at the trailhead quickly for the planned backpack.

Not long after reaching the canyon bottom, we almost immediately came upon one of the larger Ancestral Pueblo complexes I’ve seen outside national park units.   Sitting silently on the cliff face and with a very large and distinctive pictograph, it overlooked the canyon floor.

Inside the cave existed a well-preserved plaster and stick granary—something I’ve seen before as reproductions in museums but less commonly while hiking.

Not far away, we saw an expected panel that looked to depict a hunting scene:

And with a depiction of atlatls next to a spiral where a shadow already started creeping towards:

And we spied some dancers very similar to what we saw earlier this winter near a break in the cliffs that lead to this canyon complex:

Another alcove also contained a larger complex with various structures.

One showed a “homey” touch of what appeared as corn cob indentions in the masonry.

Besides enjoying the cultural landscape, we also relished the signs of spring in the canyon with desert wildflowers blooming and the plants’ greening in the canyon bottom.

After an evening under the stars, we made our way out of the canyon but, as always, noticing things we missed the first time.

Including a very faint but unmistakable motif found throughout this region – An elder or similar leading a procession from someplace to somewhere.

You can see a version of this staff at the excellent “Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum” in Blanding, UT.

Eventually, we made our way back out of the canyon.

Not ready to head home, we parked at an outlook, enjoyed the shade of some pinyon pines, and spent two delightful hours taking in the desert landscape.  Sitting, relaxing, and just watching.

Why rush to head home when it is so stunning out here?

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Eddy De Wilde
Eddy De Wilde
3 years ago

Hi Paul and Joan it must be a special feeling to be walking under those overhangs where generations passed their lives and then were swept away.