Joan and I have been busy the past two weeks. Just as well, the past two weekends had some iffy weather with a cold snap. Spring may arrive soon, and the license plates started turning green here in Moab, but spring did not fully arrive quite yet.
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Due to how busy we’d find ourselves, Joan gave me her blessing to take off for a few days solo.
I enjoy our time together quite a bit, and it’s one of the foundations of our strong marriage. But there’s something about solo trips I’ll never cease to enjoy. Meaning hiking at a pace that works for me, walking all day, and (most importantly) getting immersed in the experience deeply because it is me and my thoughts only. It is perhaps the most intense way I know of experiencing the wild places.
I planned a roughly 60-mile route for this trip that took in some old favorites, places I have not seen in a decade or more, and locations new to me.
And what did I plan to see? Red rocks and views, artifacts on near-abandoned jeep roads, Pueblo structures, and many other signs that people walked this way long before I did. As always.
Old cattle trails lead to nooks and crannies with many places hidden in plain sight of hikers who pass this way.
I followed the near-abandoned jeep track and saw an arrowhead in the faint tire tracks. I placed the artifact back and wondered how long it lay there, nearly untouched?
No surprise, I soon found a ridgetop structure overlooking the basin below.
In archeological reports Joan found, and we used to plan trips in this area, the text stated the more people lived in this area than found currently, by far. And a theory that the people who settled here left to get away from Chaco.
The following structure I visited showed the Chaco influence with its masonry and distinctive t-shaped doors.
The layout indicated a potential three-floors. And the size meant a potentially prominent building. And 700+ years later, only a handful of academic papers revealed any of its past use. So different than more well-known places not far from here.
I walked to a semi-alcove on my last day—a place with indications of camping and good acoustics. And tucked into the rock, I spied a pecked-in depiction of Kokopelli.
Unlike the tourist-friendly tchotchkes you can pick up in many places around the southwest, this depiction prominently displayed the fertility aspect of this ancient symbol.
My last morning did see the predicted weather moving in rapidly.
Luckily my route and waiting truck only meant a three-hour walk to get to the trailhead.
I pulled into our driveway not long before the sleet came and finished out the weekend with a welcome shower.
We have one more week of getting another phase in our lives situated.
And then we’ll again return to the backcountry.