Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Canyonlands

**Before I get into the post, check out the new layout! Isn't it nice? I changed the blog (again) for two reasons. One is that I feel like the gray color scheme is more my style and true to the original look of the blog (from way back in the day.) Second, the new design allows for much larger pictures. The main platform of this blog (besides my incredible wit) has always been the photos. With this new layout, I have the opportunity to show off pictures at a scale never before imagined! Hope you like it!**

I thought it appropriate that the first post in the new, more picture-friendly layout would be that of my recent trip to the Canyonlands. I went down last weekend with my cousins, Chad and Ryan, my uncle, Brent, and Chad's friend, Blakely.

We hit the road at 4:30am on Friday with a collective 10 hours of sleep under our belts (about 3.5 hours each.) Cloudscapes like this kept us entertained and awake. :)

We arrived to clear, windy weather in the Canyonlands and, after setting up camp, hit the trail at about noon.

The desert was in full bloom! Bands of neon yellow and lavender followed us consistently as we wound our way through the canyons and flowers like this one pictured above were not a rare sight.

We stopped to drink under an overhang and I couldn't resist shooting this moss. It was quite large - about a foot wide and six to eight feet long (most of which you can't see in this picture.)

This is what you see most of the time when you're in the heart of the Canyonlands. The trails wind up and down large, pillowy mounds of sandstone. The horizon, salted with pillars and mesas of every shape and size imaginable.

I wasn't entirely pleased with the composition of this shot, but it's the best that one can expect when shooting in timer mode through a camera perched on a backpack. (You'll notice I'm not wearing mine.) Regardless, it gives an excellent idea of what elephant canyon - our final destination - looked like.

If I were a cactus I would choose, like this one, to live under a rocky awning.

Chad and Blakely pose in a cave-like crevasse in the rock. Places like these were plentiful and so fun to explore. :)

If it weren't for the fact that it was bolted into the wall, I might have assumed that this ladder was built by the Indians. It's rudimentary wooden construction didn't offer much in the way of confidence...

Ryan is cautiously making his way around a very deep crevasse - one that I nearly (stupidly) jumped over. I happened to be leading the group when I came upon what looked like another harmless dip in the rock and nearly started running to jump over it, when at the last moment I realized it wasn't as shallow as I had assumed but at least fifty to sixty feet deep.

This was the most well preserved of all the ruins we saw. It's a granary called "Roadside Ruin" used by the Anasazi Indians and could be anywhere from 800 to 2500 years old. It's excellent condition is owed to the fact that it's fenced off and carefully monitored by park authorities.

Our second day of hiking followed the bed of Salt Creek - a beautiful, but exhausting walk through deep sand. Shallow water stood in sections of the creek and hardened the sand. Our legs rejoiced. :)

Freaking awesome!!! Pictographs!!! Worth any amount of fatigue.

The white pictographs were done by inhabitants that lived from about 400 to 1300 A.D. The red pictographs underneath were created by inhabitants that lived even earlier (as far back as 2000b.c.) Look carefully for the red ones. You can see what looks like a large smiling man, a smaller man with bended knees, and a deer.

These hand prints also date back to the earlier inhabitants. It's crazy to think that at least three THOUSAND years ago people were up at the same rock, pressing their hands to the walls. I couldn't help but imagine their lives. Hunting daily in these canyons for food, knowing nothing but the walls of sandstone that surround you, living as a tribe for hundreds of years here. Our civilization is still so young in comparison. (Don't worry, I'm not touching. My hand is hovering a few inches above the rock. I would NEVER touch or deface these priceless relics.)

We were exploring far up away from the creek bed in the valley behind the Peek a Boo pictographs and found some ruins! Sadly, they weren't pristine at all, but had long since crumbled. You could tell, too, that the dirt underneath them had been thoroughly dug up (and likely sifted.) We figured they'd been looted sometime in the past 20 years. :(

This ruin sat adjacent to the others and was in the same condition. Regardless of their destroyed state, it was SO COOL to find ruins out in the middle of nowhere.

Above the others, on a cliff far away from the prying hands of modern man, sat another ruin! The incredible thing about it is that the rock door still stands, undisturbed, where it was placed hundreds of years ago!!! Can you see it? It's about a quarter way down from the top of the picture on the right side. From the back we saw logs and another rock door as well. :)

More of the beautiful desert flowers.

Down the road from our camping spot was a beautiful little creek. I say beautiful because after a day of hiking, your body becomes embalmed with filth. When covered in a grimy concoction of sweat, sunscreen, and dust one does not feel at all comfortable. This waterfall provided us with a welcome shower and we were able to sleep clean and happy. :)

Brent, Chad, Ryan, and Blakely pose with the waterfall. SUCH an oasis...

This is my "Good crap that wind is cold!" expression. The wind would whip around in this little basin and spray off the creek, offering a moment of startling cold in the desert heat. Refreshing the first time. Cold thereafter. Still, you notice I'm smiling. No complaining there...

Brent brought his home-made telescope (Yeah!!! Isn't that just the most awesome thing you've ever heard of!?) so we were able to see the moon, Saturn, the Donut Nebula and a globular cluster. I had a hard time taking a picture through the eye-piece, but this is what the moon looked like. :)

This was taken Sunday morning as we were leaving. I already want to back and explore some more...

On our way out we stopped at newspaper rock. If you're able to, I recommend you read the sign. It's all very interesting. My favorite part: "Unfortunately, we do not know if the figures represent story telling, doodling, hunting magic, clan symbols, ancient graffiti, or something else." I'm glad they admit that.

Isn't that just fantastic? I stand in awe.



  1. The moss looks like some alien worm. Awesome.

  2. Those are some amazing photos, Barry. Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  3. 2000 B.C. to 2010 A.D. = 3,000 years??? :-)

  4. Okay, okay... it's four thousand years from 2000 b.c. I was playing it safe assuming that it was at least 3000 years. I have changed the wording, though, to appease you. :)

  5. this is the perfect time of year to go, not too hot. Are there campgrounds nearby? Nearest town?
    Love the photos!

  6. AMaaaazing pics Barry. Seriously you are such a pro!