Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 2: Canyonlands, Horseshoe Canyon and the Great Gallery

The second day the rest of the fam went motorcycling, four wheeling and ATVing, so mom and my own little family went to an annexed section of Canyonlands (much closer to our camp than the actual Canyonlands) and hiked to see the Great Gallery. One of the largest petroglyph sites, if not the oldest. The book on it that we read when we got there (in a snazzy little metal box like the ones they have to hold a notebook for you to sign your name and say 'I was here' in at the top of high hikes) said it was between 3,000-4,000 years old. There was a guy on the internet who wrote about getting there from the Goblin Valley side, he gave great directions and said "28 miles on a dirt road that you can go about 40mph on the entire way"….ha. Ha…Ha…Ha… No one was laughing at the end of those 28 miles (although our GPS said 23 miles). It was the ridgiest, nastiest, worst dirt road I have ever experienced. You drove through sand dunes, basically, that had formed into tiny little ridges on the road and made it so that it took us ONE AND A HALF HOURS to go those 23 miles.

Needless to say, by the time we got to the trail head (which was quite nice and came out of nowhere) I was a little tuckered out and worried that it would not be worth the hassle. Then at the beginning of the trailhead there were several scary signs talking about how 'heat can kill', 'take a gallon of water per person', 'we are not responsible for your safety', 'strenuous hiking', etc. etc. I can imagine, since Sterling and I have been to Arches National Park just a few months later in the season and it gets HOT in those canyons. I was VERY glad it was a chilly day, we were all in jackets, and overheating probably was not going to be a problem for us. So, we started out on the 7 mile journey. And it was definitely worth the hassle.

Sand dunes we drove past on our long journey of 23 miles.
There were 3 marked dinosaur tracks. 

Ruth did AWESOME with these trail markers. Cairrons? Anyway. Since you hike on rock for a good portion of the hike, they use these to let you know you're going the right way. They were a great way to keep Ruth moving in a forward direction. Whenever she found one she'd say "TRAIL! I see it!"

 There were four areas that had petroglyphs. They all had names, the only one I remember was the last one-the Great Gallery. But this is the first one we saw:

I liked these little critters.
And I like the funky guy shooting at the critters.
And this snake dude. 

So we started at the top of these mountains and then dropped 800 feet into this canyon which we hiked in to see all the petroglyphs. There was deep sand. A lot of deep sand. I am not a fan of hiking in it. But it was really breezy and beautiful and all the green, sprouting trees were really beautiful.

When I read up on the hike there were 7 attractions to look for. The four petroglyph sites, the dinosaur tracks, I can't remember all of them, but one of them was this arch--it is MASSIVE!

 And there were more petroglyphs inside of it.

Mom REALLY loved how huge this arch was and was disappointed that it seemed impossible to get a photo that showed that off. So as we continued hiking we passed some hikers going the opposite direction. Mom had me take a picture when they were under the arch so you could see how TEENY TINY they look in comparison. Pretty crazy.

The last part of the hike seemed REALLY long. We passed a park ranger that told us we had about a half mile left. We were a little worried about rain since it was pretty cloudy and breezy and also worried about the hike back and that horrible dirt road, so we wanted to hurry. Every. Single. Turn. of the canyon (it was really twisty and turny) we'd think 'what?!? We're not there YET?' but we did, eventually, get there…and it was AWESOME!
 These are REALLY big petroglyphs. Some of the biggest that exist. If you look off to the left at the bunch of figures inside that little crevice they are measured at EIGHT FEET tall. Pretty impressive.

This weird one on the left had two figures inside of it. Plus animals marching off to the side of it. 
I also like the slangy one in the middle there.
That big one is actually called the Holy Ghost. Measured to exactly 8 feet. Kinda cool.
This middle one was my absolute favorite and I'm sad I haven't yet purchased a bigger zoom for my camera. It actually has TURQUOISE stripes on it. It looks pretty vibrant when you look through the binoculars they provide.

Beautiful green trees against the rock of the mountain.

The following picture is the 4th site, which was actually the first site, we just missed it on our way in. It was hard to get up close to and take pictures of.

You can see the petroglyphs on the mountainside here, which I think is kinda cool.
It ended up being a longer, harder hike than I anticipated, but it was so worth it! That Great Gallery and that arch were just so impressive and the terrain is just so unique and interesting that it was fun and awe-inspiring and breathtaking. I'm glad we went. Plus, Sterling was in 7th heaven the entire time and couldn't stop thanking me for looking it up and planning it (he had seen this petroglyph hike when we stopped at Canyonlands on our Arches trip three years ago, but it was on the opposite side of Canyonlands and much too far away to actually see) so I think it was definitely a day well spent. Mom seemed to enjoy herself even though we were toting two toddlers that weren't always the happiest--although I do have to say they did pretty awesome for such a long day. The ride home seemed to go a little faster than the ride in and mom kept the kids happy with licorice, so it ended nicely.

1 comment:

Kayli said...

Cool stuff! That Ruthie is pretty much adorable :)