Where the quiet places are

Our lives have a simple concept – How can we maximize our outdoor time?

Joan and I deliberately chose a life that allows us to maximize our time bank funds in the outdoors regularly. We want jobs that do not colonize our free time, live in an area with easy access to the outdoors, and still have places that don’t require sitting in traffic, jostling for parking spaces, and camping next to other people hoping to get away from other people, too.

Moab, esp. during this COVID year when everyone seems to come here to escape despite general recommendations, is not perfect, of course. But we rarely spend time in town and with all the busy tourist craziness you’d expect.

We get out, find a place to call home for the weekend, and see some amazing sites.

And this weekend proved no exception.

A weekend that started Friday by truck camping at a dispersed site in the Utah desert, walked into a canyon on Saturday morning, and walked out by headlamp on Sunday evening.

The tailgate covering is both a practical and an inside joke for Joan and me. The motto is good advice for anyone!

I don’t know the miles we hiked or the elevation gain. These trips aren’t about those metrics popular in much of the outdoor community.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in ABQ, run by the Pueblo people, gives much insight into the panels. Well worth a visit post-COVID.

These trips are about poking around, seeing what’s in the next alcove, and walking paths that go back generations.

I can’t begin to tell you the meaning of these images. But I can admire how 800 or more years later, they sill pull people down the canyon and beckon travelers.

And the astute observer notices the interconnectivity with other pre-Columbian cultures.

The faint red in the pictographs indicates macaws possibly—a valuable trading item from present-day Mexico. In Chaco Canyon, archeologists found Macaw skeletons.

Each panel tells a story. And that’s why I find the images interesting. What information are the creators of these images conveying?   Religious? News? Information? History?

At best, we can just guess. But these images connect to the past of this area and indicate more than a now lonely canyon for two backpackers.

This panel intrigued me as it showed more than the typical “V”-shaped male.

We continued further down the canyon and passed through an arch. Descendants of the Ancestral Pueblo tell that arches are a gateway.  In the physical sense and perhaps in a religious sense for those that hold those beliefs.

And the images nearby certainly seem to tell the importance of the arches in the people’s lives through the generations.

We continued to enjoy the exquisite light of late autumn on the canyon walls. The red rock seemed to glow, and the colors popped.

We then followed a wash into an alcove. And saw what drew us down the canyon—a kiva with what looks to be an older ladder. The lack of footprints on the kiva wall tells me that people who come this far down the canyon respect the area and the importance of this well-preserved and vital place.

The corrugated pottery potsherds, typically used for cooking, nearby also indicate the place is not just for ceremonial. But also indicating where people gathered as a community.

We sat in the area and enjoyed the solitude of a place still mostly undisturbed even after so many years.

We knew we’d finish the last few miles by headlamp.  But to come to this spot made coming back late on a Sunday evening worth every step.

Three miles or so from the waiting vehicle, Ma Nature gave us a light show par excellence with the last rays of the sun.

We climbed up out the canyon along an old cowboy path still in good condition, enjoyed some food on our tailgate, and drove back to our home.

And we eagerly await when we can do it all over again.

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