Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 16, 2010

Desert textures

Barren lands have much to offer in the realm of visual textures, if one is open to discovering them. Let’s have a look at the fascinating surface qualities and tactile treasure of southeast Utah. All these photos were taken within the last week; click to enlarge.

Handsome jutting layers found in Little Wild Horse Canyon

Iron concretions on the False Kiva trail. Some consideration has been given to whether they are dinosaur eggs.

Incised petroglyph on sandstone. Maybe 9" across, 0.25" deep. Spirals indicate migration.

Mud-biscuits (my term) under a shaded overhang. Drying layers exhibit aesthetic curling edges.

Tafoni (honeycombed holes in sandstone) line both sides of Little Wild Horse.

Some tafoni invite occupancy... especially if climbing is required.

Weathered roots from dead junipers are exceedingly textural.

Deeply cut canyons at the White Rim layer, Island in the Sky

The thin left "knee" of Delicate Arch inspired its name

March 26, 2010

Little Wild Horse Canyon, almost

Little Wild Horse Canyon, near Goblin Valley State Park, UT

No rain within 50 miles. That’s the requirement for entering slot canyons, which are deeper than they are wide, and are formed by violent running water in sandstone or limestone. Little Wild Horse Canyon, 90 minutes west, was our destination.

The trailhead is disturbingly popular, with half a dozen vehicles already there. Rats; I like the illusion (since I can’t have the reality) of having a place to ourselves. We sign in at the register so that they’ll know we were there if a flash flood carries our bodies into the next county.

I won’t go into the details of the “almost” in the title, except to say that we missed a right-hand turn and ended up in left-hand Bell Canyon instead of the slot we wanted. It was miles before we figured out our error, so we backtracked a short way into Little Wild Horse with the few minutes we had remaining. It was mesmerizing, mysterious, beautiful.

Utah has more slot canyons than anywhere in the U.S., due to its climate and geology; I think there are a few discovery trips I need to go on.

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