Tuesday, September 18, 2018

In Search of Sand Island's Mammoths - Part One

I have written many posts about Sand Island; it's an amazing place full of rock art upon the walls.  It is also parallel to the San Juan River, so the landscape is lovely, and it's a popular spot for camping (BLM camping ground with River Ranger Station).

Roy and I just enjoy visiting for the rock art; always scanning the walls for something we'd not seen before.  One elusive creature has been the mammoth; supposedly two of them are there.  In this post, we found the area, but only could make out one of the mammoths.  Of course we had to return to find the other and complete this exciting journey; that will be my part two of this adventure.

To access the "Upper Sand Island" Trail, park at the Ranger Station and walk past the campsites until you reach the very last one.  Someone might be camping there, so be respectful and simply make your way to the fence posts lined with rope.  Walk through and down slightly to the trail; it's an easy trail to walk, a half mile in, then out, so one mile altogether.  At the very end is a climb up onto a rocky mound and a spectacular view of the San Juan River; there's also a trail into a side canyon.  As you can see from the photos, the sky was cloudy, so we're putting off exploring that side canyon until a clear weather day.

1/2 mile in, 1/2 mile out on an easy trail.

The rock art begins immediately; ancient drawings and carvings, and regrettably gouged in initials by some 20th/21st century numbskulls.  As many times it is said and posted, "Do not touch, do not leave any trace", there is someone with a huge ego who thinks he/she/they are so very special that they must leave their mark.  Well, one more time, enjoy looking, but leave it alone.  'nuff said!

 I am no expert on what the drawings mean, so while folks ask me to label the photos with the meanings/interpretations, I cannot.

Much has also faded over time.

By the way, clicking on the photos themselves will enlarge them for better viewing.

Besides looking for rock art, I personally enjoy looking up high up to see if I can find any ruin sites, or just what Mother Nature decided to sculpt with the elements.

The area where the mammoth carvings were found is fenced off, but the use of a good zoom lens will bring them into focus.  We didn't know where on the walls to look, or what exactly we were looking for, so only found the one mammoth easily.  The other is a bit more difficult to find, and you'll see it when I write up part two.


Mammoth Outlined in Orange Color
The rock art just goes on and on; sometimes there will be branches marring the view; sometimes you'll be able to climb up onto some boulders and get a closer look see.  This next set of photos shows human figures lined up next to each other.  The figures look to have ornate clothing; could these possibly be clan/tribal elders or the hierarchy being depicted?

More Ornate Human Figures
While I have seen more detailed drawings of horses with riders at other sites, the human heads in this next photo are definitely from a modern hand.  There are also crosses added to the drawings of the horses; Christian settlers, or only passing through, adding their beliefs into the rock art?

There are many, many depictions of human figures, animals, spirals, and one humanoid figure strongly resembles the figure on the Wolfman Panel found on Comb Ridge, Lower Butler Wash area.(http://www.southwestbrowneyes.com/2014/09/wolfman-panel-and-ruins-comb-ridge-part.html )  Since Sand Island is not far from the Lower Butler Wash road, it's not surprising to find similar rock art drawings in the Bluff area.

Male Deer or Elk

Antelopes & Spirals

Far left humanoid figure resembles figure of Wolfman Panel
Horses, some with Riders

At the end of the half mile trail, the sandstone is easy to climb up onto and the view of the San Juan River is wonderful!  There is a trail leading into a side canyon, but as you can see from the photos, the sky was cloudy.  It began to rain after we left Sand Island, so good thing we didn't trek further into an unknown area.When we were there, a lone Canadian Goose was calling to its mate; we waited and waited with it, but its mate didn't come.  It finally left and we felt sad for its loneliness.

Lonesome Canadian Goose

Claret Cup Cacti grow on the ledges in Sand Canyon; some so large, they hang over the edge.

Here's the end to Part One of our search for the Sand Island Mammoth carvings.  I have over 200 photos to go through for Part Two, so you know we found that other mammoth, and, perhaps, other interesting items.  Hope you're a follower of this travel blog, so you'll know when it's finally posted?

Mary Cokenour

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Shay Canyon - Rock Art Panels - Part 2B

Here I am again, showing you the amazing rock art panels located along the walls of Shay Canyon.  Besides the rock art, make sure to appreciate other features of the landscape.  For instance, this next photograph is one I simply call, "The Head", as this is what it looks like to me.  Many of the formations of Grand and San Juan Counties are named for a very good reason, that's what it looks like!

You might notice a trail here and there that looks like a good way down to the main trail; but don't go yet, there's so much more to see!

The Bear (Not a buffalo or mammoth, it's a Bear)

There will be areas of the trail where you'll walk heel-toe on narrow sections, or walk between the walls and huge boulders.  Just look at it as an adventure and enjoy!

Remember, fear is the mind killer; don't let uncertainty stagnant your life.

Triangle People
Humanoid figures, in the shape of a triangle, can be seen in Sego Canyon (Thompson Springs, UT), Nine Mile Canyon (Wellington, UT) and Capitol Reef National Park.  The Fremont culture was known to have traveled through these areas; they left their writings to tell their stories.

The stones are loose, but you can get through this narrow opening.

Rocks fell to create an "arch"

 Just a few more photos of rock art, a sharing of plant & wildlife; a view from the end of the trail and then we took the easy way up down.  If you take the easy trail upwards first, what I have shown you here will be in reverse, and you will end this wondrous journey at the Pillar.  Remember, these walls are full of stories from an ancient people that have come and gone.  Don't touch, don't deface, just admire and move along.

Roy showing how large the prickly pear cacti were.

Claret Cup Cactus

Desert Lizard

Mormon Tea

The Three Graces (or as someone else named them, but I cannot find and official name listed anywhere.

End of the trail along the walls
Mary Cokenour