Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 24, 2011

Horseshoe Canyon: Mrs Mouse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:49 pm
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Tricia took this in the middle of the night. I was looking for Mrs Mouse.

Scritch scritch scritch chew chew chew at 2 a.m. in a remote trailer can mean only one thing: I have a companion. I slipped out of my cozy sleeping bag in the general direction of the sound, and sure enough caught her plump body and beady little eyes in my headlamp just before she disappeared out the hole under the kitchen sink. Just her fleshy pink tail remained to taunt me. No steel wool around here, so I looked in the tool kit and selected a large hammer whose handle perfectly filled the hole. Jamming it in place, I hoped Mrs Mouse would be frustrated enough to give up.

No. Let us just say that guest Tricia and I, robbed of quality sleep, found Mouse’s tenacity aggravating. I would not be beyond killing an innocent creature if I had anything trap-like. Only three more nights to listen to her trying to get in…

I’ll keep my food in my car.

Feel free to tell a good mouse story in the comments section.

Horseshoe Canyon: Windblasted

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:43 pm
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I remember that the Little House on the Prairie folks were sometimes driven stark raving mad by the incessant wind. I understand… I understand.

Today: steady winds 30-35 mph, gusts to 50 mph. Again. Grainy bits of Navajo sandstone find their way into your eyes, teeth, ears, nostrils, shoes, lunch, and psyche. Oh, and every water bottle mouthpiece or Camelbak straw, oh yes. Sometimes I want to yell “STOP!” when the frenzied gusts are relentlessly sandblasting me. The towel I clean my face with every afternoon is covered in grit after one swipe. Secret wish: I want to be immersed in a bathtub of warmed oil and not come out until my skin has drunk up as much as it can hold… maybe a couple of hours, or all day.

If you ever wondered why the skin of cowboys looks like leather…


Horseshoe Canyon: Lithic Scatter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:41 pm
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Flakes of knapped chert. My special projectile point is the triangle in upper right. Click to enlarge.

I was in mid-squat with my pants around my ankles when something on the sand in front of me caught my eye. I knew instantly that it was a flake of chert knapped by some old soul a millennium or two ago. A foot away was another. And another. Zipping and buttoning myself back to presentability, I followed my eyes and began picking up flakes by the dozens.

I found a beautiful milky-white arrowhead that had one of its shoulders missing. It was a discard that never made it through ancestral Quality Control, but to me it was outrageously beautiful.

Because this campground is public land — which includes national and state parks and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land — artifact gathering is strictly prohibited. I just liked to pick them up, turn them over in my fingers, and wonder. I gave every last one of them their freedom at the end of the Explore… reserving a special spot for the arrowhead in case I ever want to try to find it again some day.

I speculated about what made this a good place for the ancient dwellers who created their points here. The plethora of outstanding artwork tells us that they used this canyon at certain times of year for habitation, so finding the chert flakes does not surprise me. Still, it was like discovering hidden treasure… treasure that connected me instantly with those who left it behind, not ever thinking that their bits of throwaway stone would fascinate ones who followed. Thank you, ancestral people.


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