A cave and a spring and a cowboy camp, and more! Friday, 10/24/14
Jimmy and I had a full and fascinating day at Canyonlands National Park, exploring as much as we could on foot and in Smartie. Really, tho, since this park measures a whopping 527 sq miles, the best way to see and do more, would be to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can go anywhere. Most of the roads throughout the park are back roads (some subject to inaccessibility due to mud or flash flooding), and not recommended for little cars like Smartie -- but don't tell Smartie, she thinks she can go anywhere!
The last bit of trail we visited was the Cave Spring trail, a half-mile loop that began at this cowboy camp. If you've ever watched western movies, you know widespread ranching operations required cowboys to stay out on the open range with their cattle. They lived in isolated outdoor camps such at this one near Cave Spring, which was used from the late 1800's thru 1975 when cattle ranching was discontinued inside Canyonlands. The items pictured above were left by the cowboys. This particular camp was established because of the reliable water source, which makes good sense.
Hoping for shade under the overhang.
Under this overhang (cave), is a desert rarity: A spring. Beyond the cowboy camp, the soot-blackened ceilings, grinding depressions (metates) and pictographs indicate earlier peoples knew about this spring. Ancestral Puebloan Indians seasonally occupied these canyons six centuries before the cattlemen arrived (700 - 1000 years ago). Once discovered, people knew where and how to find these springs, and passed the info along.
Delicate Maidenhair ferns line the side walls surrounding the spring. There certainly isn't much water here today, but if a person (or their horse) was dying of thirst, it would've insured survival. Red stick figures and hand prints from Ancestral Indians decorated a section in this area. The temperature in the cave at the spring dropped like someone turned on air conditioning, which felt oh-so-nice!
Also, during storms, this overhang would offer protection.
Beneath the cave ceiling was this remarkable wall. I have no more information on this type of unique rock.
After the cave/spring, we climbed two "log" ladders to explore the slickrock above the cave. Cute shoes.
Canyonlands prickly pear cactus thrives on biological soil crust atop slickrock.
This pack rat nest (midden), measured about a yard high and two yards wide! Pack rats are fairly common in rocky areas or crevices in the west.
Following the trail cairns, Jimmy and I walked around up top, seeing potholes and soil crust, cactus, stunted junipers, and strange formations.
I see you, Jimmy!
Since Jimmy and I just spent a few days at Dinosaur Nat'l Park, it might not come as a surprise that I see two dueling dinosaurs in these rocks!
Leaving Canyonlands, we re-entered Indian Creek Recreation Area with its red rock monuments. Loved the drive!
I enjoy posting our Out and About adventures, processing pictures and deciding which ones get picked to include on each post (a joint decision). This is a great way to chronicle our travels, so when Jimmy (or anyone else) asks me about or where or when or which trip, all I have to do is check my blog. I like sharing these experiences, but, it isn't always easy to concentrate on what I'm doing with TV programs like the World Series (Go Giants!) and Antiques Road Show, interrupting my train of thought! On the road we live in a 27-ft motor home; quiet time is rare in a small space. We sit across from each other in the dinette, happy to be together, but sometimes it's hard for me to be coherent, much less creative when my brain is scattered, derailed, or otherwise thrown to the winds. No matter, we do the best we can! The main thing is to BE PRESENT and ENJOY each day. Canyonlands is a must-see. Now: Onward we go!