Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 3, 2013

There are places a Prius shouldn’t go

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 5:33 pm
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Olive, the mighty Prius, goes where no other Prius dares. She has only a few scars to show for it.

Not having a 4WD vehicle in the West can be annoying; I find myself coveting my sister’s FJ Cruiser all the time whenever I need to get somewhere rugged. But with good instructions from friends who have been around, Olive (99,000 miles and counting) continues to explore vistas that other Priuses won’t.

The first time she did this, I was camping in a remote BLM campground and had to cross a shallow stream four times to reach my site. As in, drive through the water, not go on a bridge. For seven days. Dozens of crossings. I found out Olive could handle that.

Last summer, I had her at 10,000 feet in the mountains when a couple on ATVs zipped by. Incredulous, they slammed on their brakes and got off to ask if they could photograph my Prius in a land of pickups. Olive happily posed, unaware that she was out of place or being secretly mocked.

Ilsa leans against the Secret Spire, San Juan County, UT. Differential erosion is the reason this sandstone piece stands alone.

Ilsa leans against the Secret Spire, Grand County, UT. Differential erosion is the reason this sandstone piece stands alone. Click to enlarge.

Last week, my daughter and I found ourselves on a narrow sandy jeep road atop a godforsaken mesa, in search of the Secret Spire. Side roads here are often unlabeled, and we weren’t exactly sure we were on the right one. Afraid to slow down and risk getting mired, I just kept going, and going, and going… and, yes, the Spire was worth it.

There’s one thing she’s attempted and backed away from: a debris-laden mudslide spanning the highway. I absolutely love my Prius, but you know what? That FJ Cruiser is looking sweeter all the time.


Leave a comment if you’ve taken your vehicle where it shouldn’t have gone.

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

March 19, 2010

Eye of the Whale Arch, Part 1

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:25 am
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Eye of the Whale, as seen approaching from the NE

It’s spring break. I don’t care for the crowds, so I’m trekking to an arch that is a bit harder to get to unless you have a 4WD vehicle. Into my pack I throw the usual accoutrements: a liter of water, chapstick, hat, granola bar, tupperware of peanut M&Ms/cookies, an apple, my camera, a good book, a light jacket, and my purple practice rope.

Cetaceans (my favorite order of mammals) are found in this desert, frozen in sandstone. Ahab-like, I will hunt down the biggest and most well-known of them all.

I drive past Balanced Rock to a remote parking area, smiling amusedly at the 3500 tons of slickrock teetering gracefully on the eroded neck below.

A rutted, rocky 4WD track scars the desert. It saddens me to see what these tens of thousands of tires have done to the landscape, but I remind myself that these are multiple-use areas and I must share them with the jeepers. This is a difficult but useful exercise. I see large four-toenailed footprints in the sand — tracks of a coyote, I think, loping off into the blackbrush.

Not a sound exists out here except the rub rub rub of my pack against my back. Not a bird, not a car, not a voice. This is the way I like it.

From the back side: Eye of the Whale

February 26, 2010

Ranger Victoria’s welcome invitation

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 11:03 am
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After two bear hugs in the Vis Center, Ranger Victoria asked me if I had brought my skis. My ‘no’ did not deter her, as she had snowshoes in her trunk that I could borrow. “As soon as I’m off work, let’s go up to Salt Valley road and work our muscles a bit in that time between sunset and total darkness!” Ooooooh! I’m never one to turn down an adventure, and I was itching to get into the park and see my precious formations again. (“My” formations. Of course.)

As Vic drove the 18 miles, she commented that it has been overcast here for a very long time and that the sun came out upon my arrival. I grabbed my camera out of my waist pack and began shooting out the window at 45 mph. The alpenglow lit the sandstone afire… and my heart afire.

Sandstone at sunset

Can rock get any more beautiful?

Balanced Rock, one of my favorite subjects

Such detail at 45 mph!

That is one happy ranger.

I dare you to click on this one!!

Ranger Vic

Who'd have thought I'd be snowshoeing on my first day back?

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