Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 29, 2012

Graffiti: my nemesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:34 am
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Scrubbing graffiti off sandstone while it’s 95 degrees in the shade is challenging. At least it’s a dry heat.

Spending the last two weeks on Graffiti Detail has deepened my passionate dislike of this stuff. Human nature wants to preserve a record of its presence in a place; graffiti is an ill-thought-out means of demonstrating that you were here. I’d venture to guess that the typical age of those who write on rocks (signs, trees, fences, etc) is 14-24 — well before their prefrontal cortex is fully developed and they can think through Cause & Effect more clearly.

A few minutes of circular scrubbing with a brush, water, and a handful of sand can get light surface graffiti off of our soft sandstone. If it’s incised more deeply, like pocket-knife initials grooved into a boulder, it takes much more elbow grease and multiple attempts. The brush-smear that remains is a give-away that a thoughtless person left their mark there.

You know, visitors photograph everything — including me removing graffiti, which always elicits a curious “What are you doing?” from folks wondering if I’m washing an arch. A splendid Teachable Moment ensues. My personal favorite: parents offering their youngsters for the removal efforts. Those children will never write on rock after working hard to restore it to its natural condition.

And, finally, in the category of “Imagine That”: previous graffiti-removal volunteers in national parks have inadvertently erased priceless historic signatures, so training is mandatory before one can tackle the curse of moderns leaving their marks behind.

Please… don’t write on things in public! I’d much rather be interpreting the park’s beauty for visitors than remediating what’s been defaced.

April 3, 2011

Protected petroglyphs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:36 am
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While it looks like a family portrait, the headdresses identify these people as shamans

My binoculars showed telltale footprints below, and I selected an off-trail route I thought would get me to them. I’d been trying to find these petroglyphs for two seasons already. Upon my successful arrival at these multiple panels of glyphs, I was met with a most entertaining sign congratulating me on my accomplishment, and a place to register my name. No maps mark the site as it would be defaced with graffiti if it were made public. They are in wonderful shape, as a result, and pure joy to look at. I promise I won’t make TOO many posts about rock art, but if you’re a regular reader you know my fascination with it.

The following day’s hike took me up to Hidden Valley, in the rimrocks surrounding Moab. The reward at the end of the trek is hundreds of yards’ worth of sandstone with petroglyphs of all kinds covering them in multiple sites. It just keeps going on and on, luring one farther from one’s vehicle in the hopes of finding just one more. Good thing I didn’t have my camera or you would have been subjected to more than you could handle.

Animals are a dominant theme -- especially ungulates

A successful hunt was commemorated -- or wished for

April 12, 2010

“I can not get no Feed”

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:08 am
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Poignant graffiti at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Intriguing century-old graffiti at Chaco — on a rock that many passers-by seem to have used for messages — says this:

Jean — I can not get no Feed — I can not wait For you.

What drama. It begs speculation about what animal(s) were feed-less, for how long, and where he eventually found feed. And… did Jean ever find them? Were other messages left elsewhere? How long did the crisis continue? What month of the year was this? And… why is it in a lovely cursive script instead of the typical block letters that can be more easily carved with a knife?

Along the petroglyph trail in Chaco Culture NHP. Surprised man? Celebratory stance?

I have a similar gut reaction when I view petroglyphs and pictographs. I want to know about the artists, and what they were representing, and how long it took them to peck or paint the rock art, and what their tools looked like, and whether they stood back with satisfaction on completing it. A millennium later, some things appear obvious, and others are pure speculation.

Dog? Coyote?

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