Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 7, 2011

In which Kathryn ends up in the wrong valley

I took a girlfriend hiking, someone who hadn’t been up to Hidden Valley before. We had heard through some informal sources that there were some ancestral ruins there, but knew only very approximately where they might allegedly be hiding. Julia’s an anthropology major, and we’re both crazy about ancient cultural things, so we elected adventure over predictability. We were going to try to find some “old stuff,” and following established trails wasn’t going to cut it.

Did kangaroos ever live in Utah?!? (Hidden Valley petroglyph)

Exiting the main path at what looked like an appropriate sandy wash, we began to head upward for a bird’s-eye view. Surely a granary or a kiva would be more visible from a higher vantage point. We crested the rocky ridge and followed it along, as I told her that “that huge wall of Entrada sandstone over there is covered with petroglyphs for us to study.” Yes. It was. Only there are multiple huge walls of Entrada sandstone that look similar, and I was pointing to the wrong one. Off we went.

Thus commenced an off-trail adventure following game trails and gut instincts until we found a way to scramble over one cliff wall and into the correct valley. Please don’t laugh; this is my life. After successfully accessing Hidden Valley at last, we celebrated with Clif bars under a juniper tree, a good chuckle, and a most thorough exploration of every detail of the marvelous petroglyphs. Never did find a structure, but isn’t the joy in the journey instead of at the destination?

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 27, 2010

Hidden Valley, above Moab

Exploring is a favorite pastime. When I was young, I read in National Geographic about people who found ancient structures smothered under the Peruvian jungle; I fantasized about being there assisting scores of machete-wielding workers hacking the centuries of vines off of the pyramids, terraces or dwellings. How exquisite would that be?!?

OK, so my ‘reality’ version of that is going small-scale exploring. I’m privileged to have a local friend who knows all manner of obscure places to go verbing — (hiking, canyoneering, climbing, swimming, eating, etc) — and who is more than willing to share his inside knowledge. Ed asked what I wanted to do: high or low? dry or wet? sun or shade? and when I answered “high and rocky” he knew right where to take me after work.

Hidden Valley does not appear until you’ve climbed for 45 minutes or so up one of the enormous walls that hugs Moab. En route, however, there is some dynamite rock scrambling that gets you onto the top of a sketchy tower overlooking the entire Moab valley. There is no way I could/would have topped it without an experienced guide handy to explain how to scale it, and to spot me as I did it.

The handholds (nice clefts in the rock) were stout, but I kept thinking that they looked like a nice place for a Black Widow to hang out. (FYI: I’d take ten scorpion stings before a BW bite. Nasty neurotoxin.) Ed asked at several junctures how I was doing with this undertaking as I found myself challenged at a few points on the short steep ascent; some folks are fearful around heights, or when finding themselves on steep rock walls being held up only by their own body. Me? I was energized. This was really fun. Pushing myself to see if I can do it — yeah, my knees got scraped up, but we’re not deducting style points.

The reward was worth it. That’s the triumphant photo from yesterday’s 200th blog entry. Here are a few more to fill in the gaps.

Destination: highest tower in the distance directly above me. Ed's name for it is "The Nursemaid."

Ed sizes up our ascent. What route would YOU choose?!? (I couldn't see a likely one.)

Yes, it's very vertical, with a roof. Handholds and footholds are key.

Sweet view of La Sal Mountains and entire Moab valley from top. Exhilaration!

The first Scarlet Gilia is (are?) blooming!

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