November 3, 2022
My friend here Amanda really got my week off to a great start. She invited me out on some short hikes to see pictographs in the area. We started out by visiting Kiva coffee house just before they closed for the season. I had a fine latte and a tasty turkey sandwich, but perhaps best of all is the amazing view they have out their backdoor.
Amazingly, Amanda was the person I had the most difficulty with forming a relationship with at first, but she is really a warm, funny, and caring person and I’m blessed to have become friends with her. Spending time around her just makes me feel good so she is my fantastic new hiking buddy until the end of the season. This is her with her dog Sadie in front of the pictograph of The Shaman and The Hunter. Here’s also a close up of the panel. Alarmingly, you can see where someone chiseled around this panel in an attempt to steal it. I was able to learn that these pictographs were made by the Fremont people. This group is thought to be a collection of tribes and cultures that dwelled in this area between 300 and 1300 CE. It is unclear what eventually drove them away, but there is speculation that climate conditions changed and were no longer favorable to farming so they became migratory in search of food. I just learned that petroglyps are pictures etched into rock while pictographs are painted on the rock. Now I know the difference. Learning is fun when it’s stuff that you’re interested in.
It is hard not to talk about all of this peace, gratitude, and happiness I feel in this beautiful place surrounded by the most wonderful people. The pictographs we saw included three from the Fremont people. Above is the Bighorn sheep pictograph and below is the Shaman and The Hunter panel along with the 100 Hands panel which really includes over 160 hands.
We also visited the Circle of Friends pictograph panel which is very striking in it’s colors and the design is beautiful. We just stood there admiring this one for a bit. Art is interpreted by the viewer often and this same is true for these works of art. What does the circle of friends pictograph mean to you?
While we were out we stopped at a local outfitter to check out maps and gear. I asked about the Kaiparowits plateau which is in this area and rich in dino fossils. She excitedly pointed out this region on a map and told me that they have found many different varieties of triceratops alone here with all different types of horns. So I asked how one may go about becoming part of the excavation team uncovering these fossils and she encouraged me to contact the BLM office as they are often looking for volunteers. I went home feeling excited about this idea and since it was Sunday and government offices are not open, I sent them an email. On this plateau, I had read recently about T-Rex fossils being found and the new discovery that this dinosaur moved in packs. They have also even discovered a new type of Tyrannosaurus. There have been tens of thousands of fossils found already in this 50 mile stretch of wilderness and rock. This area is know as the Dinosaur Shangri-La.
Amanda and I also explored the plaques with the history of the Hole in the Rock mormon expedition outside of the closed Pioneer Heritage museum in town. The grit of these early pioneers always impresses me so much. She had found a very well done documentary on this story and we both watched it so we could later discuss it. If you’re interested in the story, here is the link.
They didn’t need me at work for a couple of days this week so Luke and I spent a fun afternoon shooting reels with out friend and my co-worker Grace for Yonder media. We did some pool and hot tub scenes which we intended to do during the day, but there were people in the hot tub so we abandoned that plan and did a video of Grace getting settled in an airstream. After dark we went back to the now empty hot tub for a dip which was divine. We had lots of fun shooting together and getting to know each better. The poor girl had a rough encounter with a cactus earlier this week and so we learned about glochids which are tiny barbed hair like spines on a cactus that are really difficult to get out without breaking them off in soft vulnerable flesh. Luckily, Google informed me of several remedies to extract these. Some, we did not have the supplies for. However one trick involved rubbing nylons over the effected area and luckily, I did have a pair of those to donate to the cause. Grace happily reported later that this home remedy worked fairly well.
I finished editing my photos from the latest canyon we hiked which may have been the showiest slot we have seen out here yet and the easiest to take good photos in. We only explored the western fork of it so far so we will go back eventually to see another part of it. I had thought this was Bighorn canyon, but after a conversation with a co-worker last night, now I’m wondering if this was actually Littlehorn canyon and we have yet to see Bighorn.
I found myself with some free time on a weekday so decided to follow up on my dino dreams by calling the local visitor center to track down a contact for BLM volunteer work. This yielded tremendous sucess. I spoke to a director who actually answered his phone and expressed my interests in the area. He was very enthusiastic about their need for volunteers on the paleo team and even offered some volunteer work at the local visitor center over the winter while the campground is shut down. This seemed perfect! Not only would I potentially be able to be involved in excavating fossils…I would also be able to spend some time learning more about this fascinating region and sharing that knowledge with visitors. It may just be a golden opportunity for me! After a follow up conversation it seems that there may not be any field paleo work going on over the winter, but maybe lab work will be an option as well as non-dino specific trail mapping and visitor center work.
In lighter news, it was finally time to replace my crocs slippers so I got these fun kicks and then Luke sent me this meme. Sure, they may be the ugliest shoes around, but they are remarkably comfortable and easy to slip on so suck it.
We also made what seems to be a wonderful connection with a local hotel/resort that rents out suites during the warmer seasons and is closed in winter. They want some new photos and website work done and offered to let us stay in the apartment there cost free for a couple of months this winter. The place they offered us looks awesome and would give us a lot more space. I immediately pictured myself baking cookies in the kitchen and building miniatures at the big dining room table when we went to check it out. It’s been an exciting week for sure!
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.