Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 25, 2011

Horseshoe Canyon: Treasury of Barrier Canyon Style rock art

This grouping: "Holy Ghost & Attendants." It is thought to be the earliest depiction of depth and perspective in rock art. The transparent figure is 7 feet tall and spatter-painted, possibly depicting a robe of fur.

The elongated spectral figures stared out at me with blank alien eyes, and I didn’t know who was watching whom. Arrayed on a panel along 200 feet of Navajo sandstone were dozens of anthropomorphs and animals painted onto the rock, mostly with iron oxide pigments. Late Archaic hunter-gatherers 4000 years ago made this special canyon their seasonal home on the nomadic circuit to collect and hunt. They had plenty of leisure time for their shaman-artists to create some of the most compelling rock art in North America.

I’ve had the privilege of hiking to Horseshoe Canyon’s panels seven times. Each trek brings new discoveries — fine hummingbirds hovering around shoulders, an abraded bighorn sheep herd, indented peck marks in the exact center of the chests of ten figures, or what appears to be a worshipper bending before a ‘man’ with remarkable wings. This place is not called “The Louvre of the Southwest” for no reason.

What part of our civilization will people four millennia hence find? Please comment; I’d like to know. (Sadly, all I can think of is the huge garbage island floating in the Pacific…)

March 24, 2011

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…


July 26, 2010

Mesa Arch: Showcasing my sister’s photographs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:19 am
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First rays of sun strike Mesa Arch. Look at that beautiful Navajo sandstone.

Mesa Arch sits precariously on a cliff wall, six hundred feet above Buck Canyon, facing due east. When the sun peeks over the La Sal Mountains, the first rays hit the red sandstone wall below the arch and bounce upward onto its underside. A fabulous deep copper color appears to emanate from within the very rock itself. How one could forget one’s camera when sunrise at Mesa Arch is on the agenda, I don’t know… but I did. Maybe it was because I was trying to wake up a few tired campers and get them moving at 0520. At any rate, my sister Becky took these photos. Some of them are her own compositions, and some she got by following around a Frenchman and shooting from his locations.

I must say, our favorite quote from that morning was his utterly sincere assessment of his younger California girlfriend, as he turned to snap her photo:  “Ah, she ees more beautiful zan zee arch…”

Gorgeous view of Monster (R) and Washer Woman Arch (L) in distance

This copper color lasts only a few minutes each morning. Arch dimensions -- about 50 by 15 feet.

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