Walking the ancient paths

As I’ve said many times before, Joan and I could live here for over twenty years and not see all there is to see.

Every bend of the canyon wall brings something new, engaging, and unforgettable.   And not just places where we’ve never seen before but also places we’ve visited in the past.

We learn more, see more, and our appreciation of the area deepens.

As such, Joan and I went to an area we’ve visited many times over the years and into a canyon system that continues to entrance us.

We started the day with a moody and overcast sky. So unlike what people think of as Colorado Plateau weather.

It started to drizzle, get windy, and a bit cold. Enough so where we both donned our rain gear.

But the desert still managed to give a splash of color.

One on the canyon floor, we continued on our way. Ancestral Pueblo structures and images abounded.

Every ledge and alcove reveals something from the past that we can see well into our present day.

The sun came out for a bit, and the canyon showed the lush greens and brilliant colors of a desert spring.

Time to take off our warmer clothes, have lunch, and enjoy the warm sun on the red rock.

We pushed up the canyon and often saw things on the cliff walls. Out of reach for us without ladders or scrambling on the rock too far eroded versus hundreds of years ago.

We made camp and settled in a quiet night at the bottom of the canyon.

The following day we continued to stroll up and down the canyon and the walls.

We spotted something on a higher ledge, scrambled up, and saw something I had not seen before – a Kokopelli-style pictograph but with a staff prominent throughout the Colorado Plateau and featured famously on the Procession Panel found on Comb Ridge.

I won’t begin to interpret the images and their meaning. I can’t.

But hundreds of years later, I find this lesser found take on a well-known fertility symbol intriguing.

Beyond the historical interest,  we continue to return to this area as the scenery never disappoints.

And we continually get reminded that other people, no doubt, also found enjoyment in these canyons long before we walked here.

We continued to roam the canyon and see what we could see.

In particular, I always find the yucca cordage and lashing intriguing—practical and aesthetically pleasing use of the natural materials in this environment.

And high up on the cliff, I scrambled up to take photos of a well-known structure. The Chacoan t-Shaped door stood out on a narrow choke point that, no doubt, made access more difficult during turbulent times.

And around the corner? Green plaster-like coloring with geometric designs that, again, seem both functional and pleasing to the eye.

My family’s many generations of craftspeople would appreciate the artistry combined with practicality they applied to their work.

We again made camp for the evening and made our way out the following morning.

We spotted a unique sight in this area that I last saw over four years ago during winter.  The two-story, cliff-side structure seemed no less impressive.

I did not enter the structure, but I did peer in and capture the orange light and the ancient timbers of the second story.

And with no fading winter light, but instead the bright spring light, we noted images I did not notice in the past.

We saw a well-known panel that went far along the cliff wall not far away and down another canyon.

Faint images at one end, among crumbling rock and other potential structure locations, indicated that this wall held many images from the past.

But what remained impresses—a bit of the Great Gallery from a later period.

The vibrant colors still caught the eye’s attention hundreds of years later.

After our trip, Joan found academic papers that some of these images potentially indicated a more violent time.

Another side canyon brought us to a panel that continued with the bird motif found throughout the area.

I found it interesting that the handprints seemed reminiscent of ones you often see in Canyonlands.

And more examples of pictoglyphs that I suspect, much like Greek and Roman statues with vibrant color in the past, no doubt seemed more common before time faded the pigment.

And we could see other signs of the creators of these images.

I attempted to get to one last ledge I spotted earlier. I had hoped that the now-dry stone would allow a more manageable approach.

Alas, I found the scramble just outside my comfort level for the ascent. Perhaps there’s a different approach for next time?

But my zoom lens did allow me to take an up-close photo of the flute player and tantalized what we may find on this ledge in the future.

Joan and I climbed the switchbacks out of the canyon and enjoyed the view of where we had hiked for the past few days. The clouds, sun, and red rock again emphasized the memorable scenery of these canyons.

We followed the old two-track back to the vehicle.

We saw a BLM ranger by the kiosk, and we did not seem surprised as it was peak season.  After a friendly chat and exchanging info for future trips, we enjoyed our post-trip tailgate nosh. And planned our next trip on the drive back. 🙂

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Steve Cockburn
Steve Cockburn
2 years ago

Absolutely amazing !! Thanks .

eddy de wilde
eddy de wilde
2 years ago

Intriguing historical remnants adding to an already fascinating landscape. Thanks for sharing this Paul & Joan.