|Jumping back and forth across Salt Creek.|
|Paul Bunyon’s Potty is a large pothole arch.|
A short detour took us to an Ancestral Puebloan site that invoked wonder and contemplation. Despite my initial reluctance (which took the form of my insisting we backtrack before I realized the error in my ways), finally the poorly conceived original plan was abandoned in favor of our organic and delightfully spontaneous new route down Horse Canyon. Checking of maps revealed several intriguing sites, side canyons, and arches. How could a singular ambitious goal make sense in the face of lollygaging and discovery? Especially with Jan, who is the master of lollygaging.
|Built by the ancient people.|
The reason that we’d not even considered Horse Canyon was that our maps showed this as a jeep route. But we couldn’t see any signs that vehicles had been this way for a long time (we’d later find out this area was still closed to jeeps this time of year). And once we passed the turnoff to Tower Ruin, there weren’t any recent human footprints either. Another win.
|Jan leaves behind the first human footprints for a while.|
|Chasing mourning cloaks.|
|When the washes get rocky, it’s a pleasant break from the tough sand walking.|
|Canyon walls seem higher the further up the canyon we venture.|
|Climbing down is always more difficult than getting up.|
|It’s early so Jan reads us a bedtime story, part of an ebook by Ken Foskett.|
|Finally the sky turns subtle purple and slowly grows darker. (photo by Jan)|
I feel completely restored and happy to be surrounded by rock and spires, waiting for the full moon to rise. The night is quiet and we wake to the soft hooting of an owl in the predawn.
|Castle Arch is the most stunning arch I’ve seen- so fragile-looking and so very out of the way. The canyon is choked with plants and we have had enough bushwhacking for the day so decide not to push on further for a closer view.|
The next day, we visit Castle Arch and Tower Ruin, which Jan thoughtfully suggested we save to the end. Truly the icing on the cake of our fantastic trip!
Permits are required for all overnight trips in Canyonlands National Park. In this area, bear canisters are required and all human waste must be pack out to protect this incredible place.
What’s so special about this canyon is that water has brought people here for the last 7,600 years, and there is a rich history of the Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont peoples here. The Salt Creek Archaeological District, of which Horse Canyon is a part, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Do your part to help protect the archaeological sites and incredible pictographs by staying off them and not touching them.
Read more about Tower Ruin here.