Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

September 10th, 2014

I’ve promised you a more detailed visit of cliff dwellings.  About two hours north of Silver City, in the Gila Mountains, lies the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument. Captain and I drove up there in Van to camp over night with Dirk, another friend from our days at Sonoma State University in California. We meet up at Gila River Hot Springs where we set up camp and then drive a short way to the cliff dwellings.

Captain and Dirk head up the trail towards the dwellings:

1_Captain and Dirk head up...

We’re very careful as we walk. At the trailhead they tell us that many black-tailed rattlesnakes have been sighted lately.

 

It’s a pleasant trail through a green forest along side a creek:

2_the trail...

 

Our destination…

3_...towards the cliff dwellings

…and in a close up.

4_...cliff dwellings zoom

 

After a short walk we arrive at the dwellings. The caves are in fact a series of alcoves carved by the action of water on the stone.

5_We approach the dwellings

 

In some cases only the barest foundations remain…

6_In some of the alcoves... 7_only the most foundations remain

…whereas in others the structures are quite intact…

8_...but in others... 9_the structures are quite intact...

…though sometimes reinforced for safety and equipped for accessibility…

11_...and equipped for accessability...

 

The view from within:

12_accessability2

13_from inside an alcove

 

Information panels help us to understand both the dwellings…

16...and the reconstruction...

…and the numerous pictographs found here:

15_...as to the mural paintings...

 

Some of the wall paintings… The one on the right isn’t very clear, but it’s a hand.  We’ll see this again later:

16b_a wall painting 16c_another wall painting_hand

 

An inscription from more recent times:

16d_inscription from a much later period

 

One of the big mysteries in these cliff dwellings is the exact use of the different structures. The smaller rooms were likely used for food storage.

17_one big mystery is the use of...

 

Smoke traces on the ceiling are evidence that these caves were occupied for thousands of years:

18_signs show inhabitation going way back...

 

But the remaining wooden beams in the houses are from trees felled between 1276 and 1287. The inhabitants of these cliff dwellings were only here for about thirty years.

There is much speculation as to why the inhabitants of these impressive structures stayed for such a short time:

19_but these dwellings were only...  22_there is speculation that it was an outpost

23_of more southerly tribes for...  24_agricultural purposes...

20_inhabited about 30 years...  21_about 700 years ago...

Some have advanced the theory that this was an agricultural outpost for a more southerly tribe and that when drought made it no longer viable the people move elsewhere.

 

The view across the canyon from the dwellings:

25_across the canyon from the dwellings

 

Down canyon:

26_down canyon

 

Up canyon:

27_up canyon

 

Later in the afternoon Captain shows us some other pictographs at another site on the way back to camp:

30_...some pictographs at another site...

30b_pictograph, where we also find a diamondback

We also stumble upon a rattlesnake here, but a diamondback and not a black-tailed.  We have surprised it and it begins to coil, but we back off and luckily the snake decides to move on. They don’t like us any more than we like them.

 

And we locate this depression in the rock, likely used for grinding corn:

31_...where we find this...

 

At yet another site Captain shows us this little-known structure:

32_...near this little known dwelling...

 

Dirk inspects the workmanship:

33_Dirk inspects the workmanship 34_workmanship2

 

At a last stop Captain shows us more pictographs…

35_at yet another site we find... 36_more pictographs

Here the hand is much clearer.

 

I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get these:

39_...these bis

40_...these ter

 

It’s late now and we head back to our camp at the hot springs.

City of Rocks and Faywood Hot Springs

September 9th

One afternoon during my stay in Silver City, Captain and I drove out to the City of Rocks State Park and also visited the nearby Faywood Hot Springs.

From a distance City of Rocks looks like this:

1_City of Rocks

 

An island of rocks surrounded by desert:

2_City...closer up

 

This partial view gives a better impression of what City of Rocks is all about:

September_8-9_trip_down_180_and_day1_in_Silver_City 114

There is also a campground and a picnic area.

 

We wander about the many passages…

3_We wandered about

…to be found among this haphazard “city” of rocks.

4_...among these rocks...

 

Here’s Captain walking along one of the “streets”:

5_Here's Captain on one of the main streets

 

Here we are in the very center of the city:

6_from the center of CoR

 

Captain tries to decide which way to go:

7_Captain trying to decide which way...

 

Maybe this way?

8_...maybe this way...

 

A view of the desert from the city center:

9_...view onto the desert

 

 

Here’s another part of town:

10_...another part of town

 

Some of the local vegetation, yuccas, with their blossoms (somewhat faded here) which are the New Mexico state flower:

14_yuccas...

 

After that we went to the nearby Faywood Hot Springs resort which…

15_then we went to...

…on a hot day in the desert may seem a bit strange…

16_Faywood hot springs...

…but it’s really a very nice place and I’d like to give the owners some help and encouragement.

 

I confess that I took these next few pictures a few days later when, on my own, I went back to Faywood on a rainy day and camped over night. The skies are now grey and the canopy has been drawn back:

17_these next few pictures...

18_...I took at Faywood a few days later...

 

I was driven out of the Gila Mountains by some of the remnants of tropical storm Odile…

19b_Gila Mountains as I drive back

…which brought a lot of rain, several days running, to Arizona and New Mexico.  I’m not complaining. These states need the water and I won’t begrudge them whatever rainfall they get. More about Odile in the next few posts.

 

So I camped at Faywood…

21_under equally gray skies

…under grey skies…

20_I camped at Faywood for a night...

21b_grey skies bis

…and had the campground to myself.

During the night it rained heavily. I was awake very early and had a long soak as the rain came down.  I even went back to my campsite and took a shower in the rain. Luckily neither the air nor the rain were cold.

In Silver City

September 8th to 13th

I’ve arrived in Silver City, home of my friend Richard, aka Captain. You’ll have to wait until the next post to see a photo of him. I’ve known Captain since our student days. In fact, he’s part of this crowd here…

Sebastopol-my college classmates

…that you met in Sebastopol a few weeks ago.

 

Captain lives here:

1_Captain's house

 

The back yard…

2_Captain's back yard

Among the many plants there is a prickly pear…

7_Prickly pear, but... 8_...this one has flowered...

…that has flowered.

 

Silver City is a pleasant town. These are some shots of the main street, Bullard:

9_Silver City is a pleasant town 10_here's Bullard Street, the main street

The town has a lot of period buildings:

11_that has a lot of period buildings

 

For example, this bank, and the now-closed Buffalo Bar next door:

12_like this bank

And some nicely restored buildings too, in both Anglo-Victorian and Hispanic styles:

14_Nice building...

15_...another nice building...

16_This downtown building's been nicely rendered

 

The restored Murray Hotel…

18_Restored Murray Hotel

…with its art deco interior:

17_...and its interior

 

There are some interesting and colorful side streets…

13_and colorful side streets

…where we find some murals representing different periods in the history of New Mexico:

25_Silver also has these murals representing...

…the historic Mimbres peoples…

26_...the historic Mimbres peoples...

…the Apaches…

27_...the Apache...

…the Spanish and Mexicans…

28_...the Spanish and Mexican period

…the Anglos…

29_the Anglos

…and the makings of modern New Mexico…

30_...and modern New Mexico

 

Silver City has a good farmer’s market…

19_Silver has a nice farmer's market...

…with some colorful…

20_...with some colorful...

…and plentiful stands…

21_...and plentiful stands...

22_...stands 2...

23_...stands 3

24_stands 4

 

Further along we find more murals, representing both history…

31_This other mural...artistic town...

…and more recent phenomena, such this one on the site of a former automobile dealership:

32_...and yet another mural...automobiles...

 

We find these tiles made by local school children…

33_...Tiles made by local children

…and this sculpture in front of the local library…

34_...Sculpture in front of library

 

One last feature of Silver City is this log cabin…

35_One last feature of Silver...

…a replica of the cabin where Billy the Kid is said to have lived…

37...the home of Billy the kid 38...the Kid

39...though not the original... 40_...is still a reasonable model of...

It was built as a movie set and then later presented to the city by film director Ron Howard.

See more photos of Silver City here. And see the town’s official website here.

Into New Mexico

September 8th, 2014

On leaving Chinlé yesterday I started falling asleep at the wheel so I took a motel room on Interstate Highway 40 as soon as I got that far.  I wanted to drive further, but it just wasn’t wise.

Today I’m refreshed and ready to travel again. This morning the sun greets me at the door:

1_sunrise looking east

 

Due east of here, New Mexico is calling.

I set off down highways 191…

2_down highways 191 and...

…and 180…

3_and 180

…into New Mexico…

4_into New Mexico

…with its sumptuous vistas and…

5_with its sumptuous vistas and skies

and skies…

8_of course, rainbows mean...

…full of promise.

6_full of promise...

 

Sometimes twofold, if you look hard:

7_sometimes twofold, if you look hard

Of course, we all know what rainbows mean.

 

It’s a day of lakes…

9_it was a day of lakes, Lyman...

… Lyman Lake at Lyman State Park, Arizona, where I eat lunch and take a nap, and…

… Luna Lake, near Alpine, Arizona, in a cool and green region of mountains…

10_Luna Lake

…and Bill Evans Reservoir, as I near Silver City, my destination:

11_Bill Evans

 

It’s a day of forests…

12_forests...

Apache National Forest, near the Arizon-New Mexico border…

… and Gila National Forest:

13_more forests...

 

It’s a day of flowers:

14_and flowers

 

I know I’m not very good about the names of flowers.  I promise to work on that.

15_flowers2 17_flowers4

16_flowers3

18_flowers5

20_flowers7

 

This one, I’ve been told, is an Indian Paintbrush:

21b_Indian bis

And these are called Blanket Flowers

22_Blanket flower1 22b_blanket flower2

23_flowers9

24_flowers10

I’ve seen this one before; I’d like to get a picture of it fully flowered.

 

And now it’s on to Silver City.

Canyon de Chelly

September 6th & 7th

I drive from Page across the Navajo Indian Reservation to the town of Chinlé, gateway to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument which is home to some of the best known cliff dwellings of the Pueblo peoples. The next morning I drive along the rim roads above the network of canyons, stopping at the many overlooks that provide views onto the farmlands and cliff dwelling sites below. Visitors aren’t allowed access to the dwellings except on special visits accompanied by Navajo guides.

The views of the canyon floor are beautiful:

1b_canyon floor

 

Like the other canyons we’ve seen, these, too, are vast…

2_like the other canyons...long

…but they are privately owned and contain working farms:

3_but this one...working farms

 

The ancient cliff dwellings here  are numerous:

4b_closeup

A good view of the surrounding fields:

5_good view of fields

Road access within the canyon is restricted to the farmers and to guided visits:

6_road access in the canyon...

Some of the dwellings haven’t survived so well:

7_some ruins better preserved than others

And some are easier to photograph that others:

8_some easier to photo than others

This formation is known as the Spider Grandmother, who taught the Navajo how to weave:

9_formation known as spiderwoman, who...

Another dwelling, quite high above the canyon floor…

10_yet another dwelling

…and this is one of the better preserved:

11_one of the better preserved...

The canyons go on and on…

12_the canyons continue

13_and continue

Do you see the face on the cliff wall:

14_do you see the face

 

Learn more about the Pueblo peoples here:

The Pueblo peoples disappeared by about 1350 A.D. I meet a woman at one of the overlooks who holds forth quite knowledgeably about this mysterious disappearance. Apparently they were aliens and their Cosmic relatives came to take them home.  I find that hard to believe and lean more towards the theory of climate change that brought about a great drought in these regions. I remember that the Fremont people in Utah also disappeared about this time.

It would have been fun to see the cliff dwellings more closely, but I didn’t have much time.  I’ll make up for this in New Mexico.

 

Lake Powell

September 5th & 6th

I continue eastward from Colorado City via Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab, Utah and finally make my way to Lake Powell near the town of Page, Arizona.

I met some people at Zion who told me about a campground in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area called Lone Rock and where you can drive practically down to the beach. Just be careful of the deep sand on the roads, they say; it may be difficult to get back up to the parking area. So I park up top to have lunch and then I walk down to have a swim. I tell myself that it would be a good place to camp for the night, but I want to see about a motel in Page first. Page, I find, is busy and very expensive. Even a shabby motel costs more than a 100$ per night. And internet connections aren’t necessarily ensured. Since my main concern is to have a good internet connection, I decide to camp instead.

And thus I go back to Lone Rock. It is aptly named for this lone rock sticking up in the middle of an arm off of the main part of the lake:

1b_Lone Rock close up afternoon

To the left we see…

1d_to my left

…and across the lake:

1c_to my right

 

So this is my new swimming hole:

2_so this is my swimming hole 2b_my swimming hole

I’ll take full advantage of it while I’m here.

 

I’ve parked at some distance from the main campground:

3_I've parked some ways from the main beach

 

My campsite, in the waning light of the afternoon:

4_my campsite in the waning light

Making dinner:

4b_campsite 4cbis_dinner

 

 

As the light changes in the late afternoon…

…Lone Rock…

5_waning light lone rock

the trail down to the beach.

5c_trail down to swimming hole

 

Lone Rock at dusk…

9_lone rock at dusk

… and with the sunset the campground settles down…

8_the campground settles down

…which means no more motor boats or water skiers, no more OHVs…silence descends upon us.

 

And the show in the western sky begins:

7_evening light clouds gather

7b_clouds at sunset

7c_more clouds at sunset

7d_and more clouds

 

Finally, the moon rises over the lake:

10_moon rise

It isn’t yet the full moon, though you wouldn’t think so from the picture.  Notice the reflection of the moon in the water at the bottom left of the picture.  Here I have to admit that a better photographer than I am would no doubt have noticed it and caught it on camera.  Some of you readers out there have complimented me on my photography. I’m flattered, but I realize that I have a long way to go before my photos are  really good.  I’m taking all my pictures on a small but very good Canon A3100 IS that Maureen and Norris gave me for Christmas three years ago and for which I am very grateful.

You can see some excellent pictures of Lake Powell here.

And while I’m giving out links:

– you can learn more about the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area at the National Park Service site here.

– more about the Glen Canyon Dam here.

– more about Lake Powell here.

 

Moving right along… of course the clouds bring rain during the night. Not a lot, but the thirsty earth got a welcome drink.

I spend the evening sipping my wine and watching the sky. The next morning, I’m up at dawn. Coffee ready, I take a few pictures of the sunrise…

11_sunrise 11b_I take a picture...

…every few minutes:

11c_every few...

 

Lone Rock in the first light of dawn:

12b_lone rock first light

 

The cliffs to the west; my neighbor walks her dog:

13_cliffs to the west, my neighbor

 

To the north of my swimming hole:

14b_north...further

 

The night’s rain appears to have brought out a few wildflowers. Or perhaps these just close up later in the day:

15b_flowers 15c_flowers closeup

In any case the low-lying vegetation seems to have appreciated the rain:

16_low lying vegetation 16b_more vegetation

 

I pack up to leave and then have one last swim and also take a picture of the beach in the morning light:

17_beach in morning light

 

Now, will Van make it up the hill to the park entrance on these sandy beach roads? I cross my fingers and he makes it, hands down. Good old Van.

As I drive away from the park I stop to take pictures of two rock formations, unimpressive compared to what we’ve already seen…

18_as I drive out, some... 18b_formations catch my eye...

…but they serve to remind us that we haven’t yet finished with red rock.

Through Colorado City, Arizona

September 4th & 5th

As I leave Zion Park this morning I see a cavalcade of vintage cars driving through the town of Springdale, Utah, the port of entry, so to speak, for Zion Park. I’m in the Café Soleil, having breakfast as they go by, with my computer set up, busy with an article, and I’ve left my camera in the car.  I content myself with watching the cars go by. I suspect they’ll join the people I met the other day as I left Bryce, perhaps at the Zion Canyon Lodge.

I leave early and drive all the way to the town of St. George, the biggest city in southern Utah and whose name has nothing to do with the Saint George of dragon fame. No, the town was named after a saint (in other words a Mormon) whose name happened to be George. That’s the story they tell here.

I spend a few hours this morning at the visitor’s center of the St. George Mormon temple…

3_St. George Temple

4_not so photogenic as Manti

…which is not nearly so photogenic as the Manti temple.

I also drive by the local tabernacle:

5_St. George Tabernacle

At the visitor center they show me a film and answer a few questions. I really just want to be polite and learn something about what I see as a local institution. I openly tell them that I’m not a potential convert. If you want to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints you can go here. If you simply google Mormon Church you’ll come upon a vast bank of resources, both sympathetic and antipathetic towards the Church. I maintain my position that the Mormon migration to Utah is a fascinating chapter in United States history.

I return east that afternoon to the town of Hurricane on Highway 59 where I spend the night in a motel in order to have an internet connection and to get some work done.

The next morning I take a few photos from the parking lot:

1_leaving Zion...Hurricane

The desert is never far, nor are the mountains.

And then I head east and south towards the Arizona border and the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.  These two towns, formerly known as Short Creek, are the stronghold of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The highway passes outside of the two towns. I drive by Hildale, but I turn off the main road and drive around Colorado City for a while.

Since 2006 this community has frequently been in the news for many reasons in relation to the FLDS practices. I won’t go into it here, but the town’s residents are wary of and hostile to outsiders. What I see largely confirms everything I’ve read about these communities. The streets are empty, the few women I see are indeed wearing those pastel prairie dresses and the children run inside. The houses are enormous, some of them apparently unfinished and are often surrounded by high fences or brick walls. There are few shops or offices.

I get a certain sense of forboding, of being watched. Of course, I’ve been noticed. An unknown Dodge Grand Caravan with a flashy yellow mountain bike strapped to its back will not go unnoticed here.

I take no pictures, I don’t need to. You will find many on the internet.  For more information I suggest that you google:

Colorado City

Hildale

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)

Warren Jeffs (the FLDS prophet)

the book Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

the documentary film Banking on Heaven (the trailer is particularly interesting)

the Lost Boys

 

You’ll find many photos and resources that merit attention but that need to be studied carefully. You’ll see why, in Utah and Arizona (and in many other communities in the US and Canada too), polygamy is no laughing matter.

And now I want to get out of here.

 

Zion Canyon National Park

September 1st, 2nd and 3rd

Leaving Bryce, we cross the Sevier River again, which means we are briefly back in the Great Basin. The upper reaches of the Sevier Valley and are high and green. Soon, though, we descend via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel into the Virgin River Canyon and are thus in the Colorado River Basin again.

The word “zion”, we are told here, is a Hebrew word meaning a place of peace and refuge.  Thus, the Mormon pioneers named this canyon Zion. Then again, the Mormons called all of Utah “zion”.

After the pleasant tempertures of Capitol Reef and the high-altitude chill of Bryce, Zion is sweltering.

Zion Canyon!  Now this is a “canyon”:

1a_Zion, now this is a canyon

And like both Capitol Reef and Bryce, it has been carved out of the Colorado River red sandstone plateau by a usually peaceful river, The Virgin…

3_that looks rather peaceful here, but...

…whose flash floods have left behind remarkable rock formations:

1c_on and on

You can take a shuttle towards the top of the canyon and then follow a beatiful trail…

4_you can take a shuttle to the top...

5_and then walk...

…that is an easy and pleasant walk, in spite of the heat…

6_and walk... 6b_a pleasant place to rest along the way

…often shaded and with pleasant places to rest.  And when the trail ends you continue in the river bed:

7_and walk, when there's no more trail

I didn’t go very far.

Zion Park is made for hiking, both easy walking like this and much more strenuous hiking. For a succinct description of the park’s history and geology you can read the Wikipedia article about Zion Park here, or see the National Park Service’s Zion website here.

 

The plant life in the canyon’s upper areas is luxurious. This is called a hanging garden:

8c_this is called a hanging garden

I don’t believe I’ve seen one of these before; I’ve been told that it’s an orchid:

8b_and plant life to charm us

 

That evening, back at the campground, I take advantage of the evening light to take some pictures of the nearby rock formations:

13_and another

10_I take a few photos of the local sights

11_in the evening light

12_another sight...

There’s just no end:

13b_there's just no end

 

I take a few pictures of the plant life too:

14_the plant life makes a good subject too 14b_good subject

These appear wilted or closed up at this time of day, but the next morning they’re wide open…

17_these flowers are open now... 17b_open

…and occupied…

17c_open and occupied

I see these prickly pears too:

18c_prickly pears

18c_prickly pears bis

I didn’t see them before Zion, though I did see some red ones yesterday afternoon:

18cbis_sometimes they're red

 

I’m up this early so as to catch the morning light…

16_the next morning

…and to take an early shuttle up the canyon again to get some shots that wouldn’t have been good yesterday afternoon.

This group is called The Court of the Patriarchs:

21_the Court of the Patriarchs

Abraham…

22_patriarch no. 1

Isaac…

23_patriarch no. 2

…and Jacob:

24_patriarch no. 3, hidden by...

What we see of Jacob, though, is only that small sunlit portion on the top right. Jacob is mostly hidden by this still shadowed mass called Mt. Moroni (yes, him again).

Further up the canyon, though, we get a good view of Jacob:

25_further up the canyon, no. 3

This series is called Temples and Towers:

26_temples and towers

The formation on the left is called the West Temple and on the right is the Altar of Sacrifice. The formation just left of center is called the Sundial, while in full center we have the Tower of the Virgin.

Here, if you lean forward and look in the lower right-hand corner, you can see that I’m not the only one out early trying to get some good pictures:

27_I'm not the only one out...

 

In the afternoon I take a long bike ride up the Par’Us Trail…

28_that afternoon I take a long bike ride...

…following the river as far as Canyon Junction.

Wild asters abound:

29c_more asters

And so do these guys:

30_and these guys again 30b_these guys

 

On the way back down the canyon I look for a some places to swim.  You’ll understand that since California I haven’t found any swimming holes. The Virgin is not a very welcoming river. The rocks and sandbars don’t make swimming easy, and the water is sandy (though clean). But I find one place where the water was deep enough and calm enough.

31_on the way back...swimming

But in this heat it’s enough just to lie down in the refreshing water.

 

Back at the campsite I indulge some more Wasatch Breweries beer, Evolution Amber Ale this time:

32_another cold beer

32b_sense of humor, but

They do indeed have a sense of humor at Wasatch.

Bryce Canyon National Park

August 30th & 31st

Leaving Capitol Reef, the open road follows a long ridge:

1_the open road towards Bryce...

If you look off one side of the road you see this:

2_on one side of the road...

And off the other side of the road you see this:

3_and on the other...

The road goes on towards Bryce Canyon National Park…

4_you can see where the road goes

…and the white rock begins to turn red.

 

Along the way, this vintage model Ford turns up…

5_along came this vintage model car

…with some jovial passengers…

 

5b_with some jovial passengers

…who happily allow me to take their picture.

5c_who pulled over to...

I believe they’re on their way to a gathering of vintage car owners that is to take place in Zion National Park. Several days later I see a large number of such cars arrive in Springdale, Utah one morning, heading into Zion Park, but I didn’t manage to take any pictures.

 

I arrive in Bryce Canyon rather late and set up camp:

6_I made it to Bryce rather late

 

The next day I take a long hike along the Rim Trail and the scenery of Bryce reveals itself…

7_and the next day, a wonderful scenery...

…again…

8_was revealed

…and again…

9_that just wouldn't stop

 

If Martians had cities…

10_if Martians had cities...

… I think they might look like this:

10b_I think they'd look like this

 

Small side canyons nearly reach the canyon rim:

11_somtimes narrow side canyons...

 

Southern Utah is beautiful:

12_southern Utah is so beautiful

 

Capitol Reef National Park

August 28th, 29th & 30th

As I drive out of Richfield in the morning I stop to take a picture of this imposing mountain in the morning light:

1_leaving Richfield

It was much more beautiful yesterday, in the evening light, but I didn’t have my camera with me when I was out and about. Live and learn.

 

We go east over the mountains and are no longer in the Great Basin. Here is another green farming valley near the town of Loa…

2_green valley of Loa

…when suddenly, near the town of Torrey, this red rock formation appears:

3_when suddenly

And closer up:

4_up close

 

We’re now in the Fremont River Canyon:

6_Fremont River canyon 6b_Fremont

We arrive from the west, but the next day I take a drive from east to west…

7_canyon opens up 8_farmlands and fruit orchards

…the canyon widens and we find fruit orchards planted by the Mormon pioneers.

More orchards and Mormon irrigation ingenuity:

9_more orchards 9b_Mormon irrigation ingenuity

We can pick and eat as much fruit as we want, but if we take any away we’re asked to pay a modest price.  Peaches are in season so I get about 5 pounds.

Up and down the canyon there is no lack of impressive rock formations…

11_and all around...

12_fantastic rock formations

12b_no lack of impressive formations

From my campsite the rock formations are also striking:

14_from my campsite 15_also from my campsite

 

Near the orchards there are these petroglyphs carved by the Fremont People who once inhabited this canyon:

26_...as are the petroglyphs

26b_petroglyphs2 26c_petroglyphs3

But you can see much better photos of these petroglyphs here. More on the Fremont People in a later post.

 

Later in the day I take a long hike up this canyon known as the Grand Wash.  Signs indicate that flash flood risk is at a very low level today:

22_earlier that day...Grand Wash

There has nevertheless been some rain recently and some strange specimen has left a print in the mud:

23_some strange local speicment left...

 

In the late afternoon I take another hike, further up the canyon, and we get a good view of what was once the Mormon pioneer settlement called Fruita:

10_took a hike one afternoon

The last private residents of Fruita left the area in 1968. Today only national park employees live here.

Fruita’s schoolhouse:

27_the local schoolhouse from Mormon... 27b_schoolhouse bis

The last remaining house and barn…

28_barn from pioneer times 29_last remaining home, now a store...

…the house is now a museum and store where they sell homemade pastries, jams, jellies and salsas.

 

Back at my campsite, after a hard day of tourism, I treat myself to a nice cold local Utah beer:

16c_a nice cold beer bis

Take a look at the caption on the six-pack carrier:

16b_why have just one

And I kid you not, in the Richfield supermarket where I bought it, there was a little sign that said Take some home to the wives. This beer, and others, are made by Wasatch Breweries located in Park City (of Sundance fame), Utah. You can read more about Wasatch Breweries here. Their beer is only 4%, but that’s better than the 3.2% beers you find in most Utah grocery stores. And at least the name shows a sense of humor about polygamy. Yet, as we’ll see in an upcoming post, in Utah today this subject is no laughing matter.

 

One morning in camp, Olsen gets down to work.  I’m currently working on: Sewage sludge application in a forest plantation: effects on trace metal transfer in soil-plant-snail continuum.

17_in the morning, hard at work...

But one of the locals does not appreciate my efforts:

18_but one of the locals...

Generally the local residents here are unimpressed with our presence:

19_generally the locals... 20_...are not impressed...

 

The little I have shown you here does not do justice to Capitol Reef National Park.  The park gets its name from a geographical formation that the early pioneers here called a “reef”. It is some 95 miles long and extends far to the south of the campgrounds near Fruita.  I drove down the scenic canyon drive, but took no pictures.