Sunday, February 08, 2009

Utah Places: Canyonlands

When you stand at Dead Horse Point, looking out toward the northwest, the vast wasteland of desert you see across is Canyonlands.

Several districts divide the area. There is Needles, Maze, Islands, and Horseshoe.

In one district,Horseshoe, the Great Gallery resides just a short hike from the trailhead, off a little dirt road south of Green River, Utah. It is remote enough to be pristine still, relatively well preserved from vandalism. You can hold your hand up near the rock where the artist placed his medium, many ages ago.

I first visted Canyonlands with the BYU Survival group, so many years ago. We hiked down Horsethief Canyon and around Horseshoe Bend on the Green River, and up the Dirty Devil and Little Muddy for a ways. We camped in potholes and arches in the desert, and got water from alkali springs when there was nothing else. We shared boiled dandelion greens and a shred of flesh apiece from two roasted fishes that we caught between 20 people, and it was the most filling ambrosia you can imagine. We shivered, huddled together through a raging snowstorm, forted up in a rockfall cave that we tried to chink with deadfall cottonwood limbs against the wind as best we could. It was a cold night, with no food, and only one blanket apiece. But we all survived. That was the point. We found out we could endure all manner of adversity.

Just imagine what adversity these people weathered, the painters of the gallery aeons ago, before they finally succumbed to the roving coyotes, and the buzzards and ravens, and the endless burning sun and sand.


Patricia said...

Cool post! Your posts suggest you've been just about everywhere, so I wondered if you'd been in this canyon. I have, many times. You can't camp in the canyon w/in park service boundaries anymore, though I stayed down there several times before they closed the canyon to camping, making use of the few artifacts with which campers had furnished the sites. These included a piece of cottonwood branch, polished by long use, shaped to lift pots out of fires, and a short-legged chair someone had cobbled together from old planks. Whenever I went down there, I'd search for these items and move them to the campsite where I was staying.

This canyon also contains dinosaur footprints (I've never seen them but my brother has and a ranger mentioned them) and a host of other wonderful features. I love this canyon. In some ways, I feel I was born in this canyon.

Furthermore, my dog and I were followed by a coyote here. It was the closest I've ever seen a coyote. I think he thought my Siberian husky was cute. She didn't think he was cute at all and chased him up onto a ledge.

So many memories between these walls. Thanks, Jim, for this tour! You're getting my hit-the-trail juices flowing.

Who ran your survival group?

Jim Cobabe said...


I was in unit 18, led by Mack Smith and Richard Peacock. Olivia was one of the other instrtor's name, the other was an Navaho woman, and I wish I could recall. One of the students was Named Doug Cloward. I think he later joined the program as an instructor, and I think Richard was promoted also when Mack was seriosly injuered later in a rapelling incident.

I belive Mack still lives in Koosherem. Doug is in Mapleton. And last I heard, Richard was in Lehi.