Spring trip to the desert, part three
Jan 05, 2023
As I continued down Grand Gulch from the rock walls on either side became steeper, and the ruins and rock art appeared more frequently. In fact, soon after leaving the ruins at the mouth of Kane Gulch I quickly came to another set of ruins, and then another. Sometimes they were high up along the rock walls, inaccessible to me. Other times they were lower down and made exploration easy.
Eventually, I came to a huge rock art panel that spanned the length of a lower alcove. There was a stunning variety of figures and handprints. Some of them pictographs, which are figures or handprints painted it onto the walls like the ones at the top of the page. Some were petroglyphs, which are pecked into the walls with a rock so that they are chipped into the surface. In the case of some of these, the figures were slowly blending back into the rock making them almost ghostly.
A type of pictograph that has always fascinated me are the handprints that are outlined in the rust-colored pigment that the Anasazi used. They would create them by filling their mouth with the “paint” mixture and spitting it out as they held their hand against the wall. Basically, an early form of airbrush. I always find these beautiful and fascinating.
Along with the rock art there were ruins as well, along with pottery shards, and corn. This part of Utah is a kind of open-air museum, and I don't think there's anything quite like it anywhere else in the United States.
And I also found some of the grinding stones used for grinding the corn.
Grinding stones and pottery shards
Continuing further into the Canyon I decided to stop and make my camp for the night. An impressive set of ruins, known as Split Level Ruins, was just a short distance from where I laid out my bed roll. Being that I was close to them I got an opportunity to photograph them a couple of different times.
Remaining wood beams on top of Split Level Ruin
On my first post about this trip <HERE> I spoke about the signs of the drought in the Lake Powell area. On this part of the trip, the signs of the drought were evident as well. I spent much of the next day hiking further down into the Canyon to find the only close by remaining spring so that I could replenish my water supply.
Then on the following day on my hike out, I came across a place where there had once been a large pool of water. Many years ago, in the mid-90's a buddy and I had backpacked down into this area, and we had swum in this beautiful pool of cool water. A welcome break on a long hot trip. Now it's obvious that there has not been water in it for many years.
Former oasis in the desert
These were the main effects of the drought that I could see on this trip. As I hiked back out the final morning the Cottonwood trees looked lush and green despite being in a dry stream bed.
Sunlight through the Cottonwood trees
And the desert flowers are so resilient
Thus, as I came to the end of the trip, I was struck both by the beauty of this place, and the reality of the changing climate that is sure to bring more alterations to this Fragile and amazing place. I'm grateful that I've been able to enjoy it for so many years and yet I wonder what's in store in the future.