Monday, July 28, 2008

Following the trail of the ancients

We had been planning on camping in or near Moab since mid-March. Finally, in early June, we did it! We had lots planned, and it all ended up being even better than we expected. We hiked about 15 miles in three days. Jarom did all of it--he's the best little hiker. Bella did pretty well too, although I had her on my shoulders a lot of the time. During this trip we saw eight different Anasazi ruins sites! Some were easy to find, others were remote and required a lot of work.

We camped two nights at Negro Bill Campground, right next to the muddy Colorado River along Highway 128 near Moab. We got there at 11:00 on a Thursday night, to ensure we had a site. The funny thing was that four other groups showed up after us, up till almost 1:00. The nearby canyons were beautiful, but the brush had just been cleancut so there were lots of burnt little stumps that plagued the newly-walking Orion. Plus we invaded red ant territory (though they left us alone). First we went to Moab to throw a certain someone's sleeping bag in the laundramat. Then we went up to Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands Island in the Sky district. That day a sandstorm swept through our campsite, knocking down our tent and filtering tons of find red dust inside. Second time we've camped in Moab, second time we've been attacked by wind (last time threw our tent twenty feet). So we decided that in the morning we'd pack up and get a cheap motel room for our third night. We went to Arches and barely made it to Newspaper Rock and Canyonlands The Needles district (one of our very favorite places), then ended up in Monticello late at night, searching for a cheap room. There were few options, so we decided on the Monticello Inn. For dinner we made baked potatoes in the microwave and melted cheese on them.

The next day we drove south to Blanding, had breakfast at the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, and then continued west on Highway 95, part of the Trail of the Ancients scenic byway. This is where we really immersed ourselves in Anasazi history. Edge of the Cedars, Butler Wash, and the very amazing Ballroom Cave which was difficult, remote and absolutely worth it. We finished the evening going to Natural Bridges National Monument and then *backtracking* to see Mule Canyon and hike to the House on Fire. Finally at late dusk we headed west again on 95, over the northern portion of Lake Powell (Glen Canyon) and the Dirty Devil river. It was black out so we missed a lot of very beautiful scenery. We'd already seen so much, but I really can never get enough of the southwest. Highway 95's really long and empty--and we kept waiting for good spot to get dinner. When we finally hit Hanksville (population 300) we knew it was our last chance, so we ate a pretty nasty meal of gas station food then continued north till we got back to good old Provo. It was one of my favorite weekends in a long time.

Forgive the amount of pictures below. I haven't uploaded them to Flickr yet, but when I do, I'll post about it.

our campsite at Negro Bill campground

right next to the beautiful Colorado River

at Dead Horse Point . . .

which looks a lot like this

Jarom and his Junior Ranger backpack we borrowed from the Canyonlands visitors center. The kids loved the books inside.

at Mesa Arch

on top of Whale Rock

it was extremely windy up there

Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) is filled with amazing overlooks. This is from Grandview Point. We really were on an island in the sky, literally.

Hiking Aztec Butte. There was a lot of kid rotation going on between hikes.

The cryptobiotic soil that every park in Utah will tell you to watch out for. It's alive, and this was the thickest we saw it. Don't bust the crust!

Anasazi granary

back at camp--dinnertime!

Balanced Rock at Arches

hiking to see the Windows

Amy and the kids behind Turret Arch

Jarom and one of his many "take a picture!" poses. I couldn't include them all.

that's Turret Arch

The "goggles"--both Windows--from the backside. We hiked the primitive trail behind them. We all got sunburnt.

Jarom's favorite thing to do was stack or restack the rock cairns (that mark the trails). This helped him become a Junior Ranger.

Quite pretty huh? La Sal Mountains in the background.

the hike to Landscape Arch

That's Landscape Arch behind us. One day soon (relatively) it will collapse.

Newspaper Rock! An amazing place on the way to see The Needles.

our favorite Polaroid ever

Oey was so anxious to get down and walk on his own. This is on the way to Roadside Ruin in The Needles district.

Cave Spring. An old cowboy spot, filled with artifacts.

Amy scaling. This hike was definitely one of our favorites, which had something to do with the time of day. You'll see in pictures below how pretty it was.

ladder up

Anasazi grindstones inside Cave Spring


they very much loved the potholes, we could hardly tear them away from them

one of our famous "timer" photos

Bella dancing on top of the butte above Cave Spring. I love this video. Watch how she keeps coming back into the frame.

At Monticello. Who knew they had a temple in such a tiny town? It was a pleasant surprise.

breakfast, Peace Tree Juice Cafe (delicious, seriously--Amy's already made this for me again and I love it)

Jarom and an anatomically-correct Kokopelli statue outside Edge of the Cedars

Oey wants in the kiva . . .

cause these two are in the kiva

The ruins at Edge of the Cedars are restabilized. They had to be excavated from a mound. First-class archaeology.

Oey makin his rounds

hiking to see the Butler Wash ruins of Highway 95


Jarom and I found the natural bridge we were looking for . . .

And then *he* found handprint pictographs inside it! We were so proud of our budding archaeologist.

This trail was so fun, so remote and so rewarding: to see the lesser-known Ballroom Cave ruins in Cedar Mesa.

crossing the muddy creek, which we had to do several times

making our way through the thicket

The horsetail reeds were taller than Jarom much of the time. He's the best, most determined and least complaining little hiker.

holding a tadpole (he put it back)

the ruins! (see the wall?)

there were ancient corncobs all over the place--one of the most amazing things to me

up and up

grinding stones again

looking out from under the overhang

I found some potsherds

The walls may not look that spectacular, but it's because they haven't been touched by archaeologists. They've been up here for centuries, crumbling and shifting, and this is how they look.

where the ladders were secured against the rock (the wooden ladder legs were off to the side)

inside the cave itself

carved footholds


At Natural Bridges National Monument. Amy and I took turns running to see the Horsecollar Ruins. Oey sat here with Amy while it was my turn.

Jarom and I hiked down to Owachomo Bridge

can you see Jarom?

The Mule Canyon ruins, all nicely done up and right off the road. We meant to go to a different location, North Mule Canyon, where we'd hike to see the "house on fire," but first we ended up here instead (then we found the correct turnoff).

North Mule Canyon, our last hike of the trip

We finally made it! It was getting late, but here's the famous house on fire photo. It's not so dramatic--the effect really only works around noontime.

our family follows their families

A sight we were used to seeing--Amy blazing a trail ahead of us! She really is a trailblazer (though it was 8:30 and we wanted to make it back before dark so we could start driving).

Okay, nasty picture I know. But that Ballroom Cave trail got us some bugbites--me especially. I had 60ish total, and 45 below the knees. I woke up early a few nights because of the itch, and couldn't go back to sleep. It was worth it.


Amy Beatty said...

I can't believe you stayed up all night doing this honey. Thank you. I lived the trip all over again by reading it. It was fun. Everything is fun with you.

The Hockmans said...

WOW! You guys are so adventurous. I don't think I spelled that right, but still, you guys are all over the place. You Rock! I wish we could be more like that. You need to write a "family fun guied" for your area so that other families can do them too. Ben did the post?...Nice.

Papa Dan said...

Gosh, those pictures are really something--I clicked/enlarged most every one and they were so clear and colorful. You all got to see some neat stuff. I didn't see hardly anyone else around you. Were you about the only ones sightseeing?. What great shape you Amy and Matt are in. Love to see you sharing these outings with the kids. They will always remember.

bandini said...

so incredible and im totally jealous so lets go there

Glory Watts said...

Holy long post! It was amazing! I loved all the pictures and commentary, it was like I experianced it with you guys. You do look like you are the only ones in existance, so who took the pictures of your family?

I find Southern Utah to be so uniquely (sp?) beautiful and full of history. We went there on our honey moon and as newly weds but haven't been back, we need to. It's crazy to try and imagine how people once lived there. I can't believe there are still corn cobs! What a cool experience, and way to go carrying all those kids around on your shoulders! You guys are buff! I hope you guys gave each other good massages after each hike.

Ben, great job on your post (he,he) Can't wait to see and hear about the next Beatty adventure!
love you guys!

mooncowboy said...

There were actually tons of people at Arches, but most of the other places were pretty barren. About half of the family pictures I posted were timer photos, where I set the camera precariously on a rock and hoped for the best. We're getting really good at it!

moonshinejunkyard said...

this post is the most amazing thing. i have taken two days to completely absorb it and i'm still not finished. i love looking at every detail, and the commentary and descriptions. i love what you say about "our family follows their families," it is rad how families are so universal and ancient, huh. moab and the red rock deserts are so unbelievably beautiful and amazing in so many ways, and your pictures and stories capture a lot of that uniqueness that glory mentions. great job. i truly hope we can all go back here together sometime. it will be haunting oey as a distant memory of climbing into that kiva. it is so rad that jarom and bella hike a lot too. once again. you guys are so inspiring and wonderful. happy new adventures, love heather.

Adie B said...

Blown away. So glad I finally read this!