Ranger Kathryn's Arches

January 29, 2012

A trek down Salt Wash

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 8:42 am
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Looking north up the lonely Salt Wash

I stepped onto the frozen surface tentatively, aware that the last creek crossing had four solid inches of ice to support me. Even though the water flowing underneath wasn’t deep, I sure didn’t want to break through and have miles to walk with cold wet feet. On my second step, the rather terrifying sound of loud cracks under my feet sent me lunging back to terra firma as fast as I could, to peals of laughter from my hiking buddy who had refused to go onto the ice until I did. Sometimes there’s a fine line between courageous and foolish.

Salt Wash lured me on my day off. It is part of Arches National Park’s backcountry, lacking a defined trail of any type, but able to be hiked by those undeterred by the need to bushwhack through plants and around obstacles. I was hoping to spy some mountain lion tracks, as it’s a location with running water and mule deer (the lions’ preferred meal). Alas, the only tracks we found were coyote and rodent. One common raven, one golden eagle soaring — and lots of tafoni, the honeycombed sandstone created by chemical weathering.

Still, a day in the wilderness is better than most days elsewhere.

tafoni: broken bits are fun to play with

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

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