Ranger Kathryn's Arches

June 29, 2009

Birthing scene in stone

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 6:41 am

It is not good to feel flummoxed for too long, nor to let flummoxed-ness decide your fate, so I decided to just keep doing what I would have done had not my purse been pinched.  Hot day, mid-90s, so I chose something with minimal hiking:  continue the Rock Art Tour.  I hadn’t been down Kane Creek Road but once, on the first day here, and it deserves a closer look.

As soon as that stretch of pavement leaves Moab proper, you KNOW it’s going to be different.  The wide, slow, and silt-laden Colorado stays alongside the road for a few miles, while sheer sandstone cliffs rise at steep angles on both sides.  I envision being in a kayak or raft, floating effortlessly.  Might do that next month.

Driving a few miles, I pass a rock art panel that I visited my first day.  It is one of the more vandalized ones; I do not stop again.  The second one is only a few feet long and a few figures, which I admire before moving on.  No new shapes or images or themes to photograph in that one.  

Apparently a stretch of privately-owned property abuts the BLM lands here, as I begin seeing the most sad-looking collection of trailer homes and travel trailers with tarps shading the roofs.  This continues for about a half mile or so — squeezed between the paved road and the jutting cliffs.  I photographed one person’s ingenious solution to not having a front porch:  a personal alcove with lawn chair, ladder-accessible.  Very cute.


private high patio (folding lawn chair in shade)

private high patio (folding lawn chair in shade)




footling breech birth, and superimposed sandal tracks (unrelated)

footling breech birth, and superimposed sandal tracks (unrelated)



 I pass what appears to be a deserted private campground, and again I am confused as it is a summer weekend and one would think it should have plenty of occupants.  The road turns to gravel.  Another mile and I realize that I am working my way into a canyon — Kane Creek Canyon, to be exact.  The road hugs the cliffside and has no guard rails on the drop side.  Some places are suitable for two vehicles to pass, others are definitely not; I would not want to be driving this at night!

My destination is a four-faced boulder with petroglyphs and pictographs on all sides.  I am relying on the tenths column on my odometer to get me there, as this one is not on the road as the others have been.  The description of how to find it is quite good, though, and soon I am at the wide spot in the road described as a locater.  A quick 75-foot descent to my right, and I am face to face with a nearly life-sized 2-dimensional native american woman giving birth to a breech baby!  (Wanting to yell to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, HEY LOOK NO C-SECTION!)  Was that what made that birth worthy of chronicling on rock forever?  Was it an important family in the band?  It is highly unusual subject matter.  And it is no ordinary breech, butt-first, but a footling breech, both feet first.  How odd to see it preserved forever out in the middle of nowhere.

Again, my sense as I looked around that canyon (with no other people anywhere to be seen) was:  You are your own keeper.  The desert would rather cook you and eat you, so be vigilant and proactive.  And then I slurped the last swallow of my FIRST water bottle before heading back.  Today I have a cold spare on board.

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