Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Horseshoe Canyon

Dean and I each have bucket lists...things we really want to do before we can't...whenever that is! Horseshoe Canyon Hike in Southern Utah has been on his for a couple of years now.

Access isn't easy...just off of Highway 24 near Goblin Valley you'll travel on a mostly graded dirt road for about 30 miles. The road is almost passable with a two-wheel drive vehicle depending on the road conditions, but Dean was real happy we were driving the Big Truck. You will most likely not pass a soul...well maybe a cow soul. That's it! You'll notice I used a lot of ambiguous words like mostly, almost, and most likely...that's exactly how this hike rolls.

Once you arrive there is a great information kiosk at the trailhead, but literally nothing else to let you know you are driving the right direction. Dean and Chet are making sure we check in. In the very recent past, a couple people have passed away attempting this hike...either getting lost or not having enough water. So it's always a good idea to sign the trail log.

Exact dates unknown...but human presence in Horseshoe Canyon has been dated as far back as 7000-9000 B.C.  Later inhabitants included the Desert Archaic culture, the Fremont culture, and Ancenstral Pueblo People. It is believed that the canyon was abandoned by Native American peoples by 1300 A.D.

Ancient people hunted large mammals such as Mastodons and Mammoths across the region. This is a dinosaur print preserved in the rock. The tracks are thought to belong to an Allosaurus which was the most common carnivore to exist during the time these tracks were formed.

It's easy to see how someone could get lost on this trail if you weren't paying close attention. There are cairns placed frequently along the rocky trail to help you out.

A steep hike down 780 feet into the river bed means a steep hike out at the end. Make certain to save some energy and water for that!

The hike isn't really that long, about 8 miles round trip...

depending how far you go up the river bed.

But don't be fooled! Nearly the entire time you are sloshing and slumping through loose red sand, which makes 8 miles feel more like 12 when you are done.

The views up the canyon walls are stunning. However the views alone are not the enticement for this particular hike.

The first gallery of pictographs are high on the east canyon wall. So high that we missed them on the hike in, didn't see them at all until we were hiking out. The three of us made all sorts of speculation as to HOW and WHY the ancient people painted these figures in this location. Did they rope down from the top or build scaffolding up from the bottom?

The next site called Horseshoe Gallery is a little bit hidden as well. Look on the left...there is ancient man's best friend. 

These vivid pictographs were probably our favorite. The art in Horseshoe Canyon is primarily pictograph...painted on the rock surface. Which is unlike petroglyphs that are carved into the rock.

Because paint is less durable than carving...pictographs are rarer since they are more likely to fade away under intense desert sun. Which makes the amazing images that remain on Horseshoe Canyon walls even more special. "Hunter shoot wild animals with big horns and tiny tail."

There is talk...that the artists who painted these pictographs might even be from another planet. I mean...I'm not saying this is an alien...but...!

Just a little further into the hike we came upon the Alcove Gallery...aptly named because it was in this cool little alcove.

We didn't miss this one because there was a giant cairn marking the location.

These pictographs looked entirely different than the other sets. We decided they must be painted by different ancient people.

Alcove Gallery has incurred both natural and man-made damages to the site. Oil drillers and cowboys from the early 1900's carved their names into the wall next to the pictographs. And who knows what lies beneath some of the crumbled debris from the falling canyon walls

About another mile further, we found the treasure of this canyon...The Great Gallery. The most photographed and reproduced panel in the canyon. The Museum of Modern Art in New York even has a reproduction of this panel.

We met a volunteer Park Ranger along the trail who scoffed at us for not bringing our binoculars. But who needs them...

there are existing binoculars at the site chained to a log that you can borrow. Take that Mister Park Ranger.

The Great Gallery displays dozens of detailed, intricate and even mysterious pictographs in different shades of red, brown and even some white.

They range in size with some up to 8 feet tall and extend across the canyon wall for over 200 feet.
The images are truly stunning. You have to wonder what it all means? Who put it here and how long ago? There are so many details you could study the panels for hours and still discover more.

This part of the panel is known as the Holy Ghost...with one distinctly looking spiritual figure among the others. Chet transcended their culture and flashed the figures an ancient gang sign or something like that.

We thought the Holy Ghost could use a little Jiggystick in that hot desert sun.

Oh hello ancient archaic desert dwellers who left us these cryptic drawings.

It was a fantastic that I highly recommend. We saw very few other hikers that day, which makes the hike even more enjoyable as you soak in the serenity of this ancient place.

Just don't forget to follow the cairns on the way in and out and remember your Jiggystick too! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Passing and Then Not Passing Chimney Rock

A few weeks ago we were stunned and saddened to hear of the death of Dean's cousin Tammy. She along with another couple were killed in a horrific car accident while vacationing in New Zealand. No stranger to the importance of having family by you when grieving...Dean decided we absolutely needed to attend the funeral of his sweet cousin.  Tammy's children were inspirational and uplifting as they each reminisced of the mother they will dearly miss. Tammy was sparkle and jewelry and sunshine...I am sorry for her passing. A rose among the thorns, Tammy had seven brothers, and I think they were each happy to see their cousin Deano. Just my opinion, but if you ever find yourself vacillating on whether or not to attend a funeral...You are probably won't be missed if you stay home, but you will be noticed if you attend.

 Tammy and her family live in a small rural community in Southern-Central Utah, so we decided to make a road trip and extend our time in this area...sort of playing in our own Utah backyard. Following the funeral, we took back roads through small towns that I remember from my childhood. Small towns where aunts lived and distant relatives I vaguely remember visiting with my grandmother about a million years ago. Every new town we entered we would comment at the population sign posted on the outskirts. Population 215...less than his Instagram followers...according to Chet!

While passing through Capital Reef National Park we saw a trail on the side of the road that looked like a fun place to hike. On no time schedule whatsoever, we stopped the truck and decided we couldn't pass up Chimney Rock Trail. After a quick change out of our funeral clothes right there in the parking lot, we set out on a late afternoon hike.

The scenery in Southern Utah is stunning...the view different around every corner. The Chimney Rock Trail is named after Chimney Rock, an impressive pinnacle of red-hued shale that rises from the desert floor.

Although marked moderately strenuous, the hike was easy. Beginning with mildly steep switchbacks,

the trail loops and finally opens up on a table-top mesa to this view of Chimney Rock and the surrounding valley.

My Chimney Rock-stars!

This trip made me realize, that time is marching quickly with this young man of mine...

and I am very aware of an increase in the cadence.

His Dad and I feel so lucky he is willing to tag along on our adventures. We listen to his Spotify playlists, buy him Jabanero Smokehouse Almonds, and lots of Dr Pepper. Blatant bribery I know, but I think it helps.

His childhood has been defined by Before and After. His After making life at home markedly unlike his sisters' growing up years. I wonder if he wonders what life would have been...

how different it could have been! I do believe he wonders, but doesn't dwell in the wonderment. His future is bright and his options brilliant.

So today, seize the moment...don't pass on the important stuff and especially don't pass up those Chimney Rock trails. The view is exhilarating...and now bring me that horizon.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ninja Henry Turns Four

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party...everyone little boy has to have one.

Cowabunga dude!

So here's the key to an awesome TMNT birthday bash.

Invite all your heroes in a half-shell.

Make sure you do well on the TMNT training course.

And don't forget to complete the wall climb.

And then be ready for a surprise attack...

because Shredder could be right around the corner.

Star throwing for the little Ninjas was a favorite activity.

Frances is too young for all the Ninja nonsense.

So she and Bubba just imitate each other as usual!

The Ninja Turtle pinata was difficult to usual!

Mother of the little Ninja always plans the funnest parties.

I can't believe that Henry is four years old already.

He is intelligent, so very sweet, and speaks his mind whenever you ask him his opinion.

Claire and Sami didn't really care much for the party stuff. You should have seen her giggle right after Sami slurped her face with doggy kisses.

Childhood is marked with birthday cake after birthday cake.

This year it's a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party. Next year...who knows!

But the memories Henry will have of this day will forever be in his dreams. And joy remembered is twice sweet!

We got such a kick out of this photo...Bubba with two of the youngest party goers. Would you believe that although he obviously weighs several more pounds than Frances...adorable chubby Bennett is actually 2 months younger than petite Frances.

Her smiles tend to steal the show these days...

as does her photo bombing Daddy.

Henry...what a great party! Let's have some more pizza dude...or rather cake that is!

And Frances and I will have a Diet Coke to go with it.