Canyonlands National Park – May 25, 2013
Just driving up to the Canyonlands plateau was an adventure in itself with the sharp switchbacks and driving along the edge. Friends often ask me if I was afraid making this adventure as a woman alone, there concerns are mostly of me falling, or being attacked and robbed, and my answer has always been, “No, I wasn’t afraid. “Except driving could be a little scary and this was one of those scary drives. It ranked right up there with 5 lane rush hour traffic.
The Monitor and Merrimac Buttes, around 600 feet tall, were named after the Ironclad ships of the Civil War.
At the visitor center I learned that the Juniper seeds used for beads, in the 60’s and by Native People have to be carefully selected. You have to find one with an insect hole to use because the seeds are so hard. Once you find a hole then you can enlarge it and push on through the other side.
Like everyone I hiked to Mesa Arch. It was pretty crowded but I did manage to get the classic snapshot.
Edward Abby wrote, “It is possible from here to gaze down on the backs of soaring birds.”
Cryptobiotic Soil is a concern of the ecologist in this park. It is the most fragile of plants and it doesn't even look like a plant. It just looks like dirt covered with black soot. Nonetheless, it is a plant on which all others depend. It is composed of slow growing bacteria, algae, mosses and lichens that bind the soil together to retain water and nitrogen. Like the moss and lichen in West Virginia it makes soil.
The coloration of the rocks is due to the various minerals found in the rocks. These minerals have reacted to the weathering, such as the reds and yellows of the iron that have been exposed to the air. Basically they have rusted. The black sheen, seen on many of the cliff faces, is formed by manganese and is often called “desert varnish”. I have noticed that many of the petroglyphs are in drawn on desert varnish and show up well because of the contrast between the dark sheen and the underlying lighter colored rock. Purples and greens are caused by clay minerals. Upheaval Dome is a good example of these minerals.
“The desert is a good school in which to observe the cleverness and the infinite variety of techniques of survival under pitiless opposition. Life could not change the sun or water…so it changed itself.” John Steinbeck
The Green River Overlook is one of my favorite spots in the canyon. John Wesley Powell wondered in his journal, “What shall we find?” When they reached this section of the Green River in July 1869, he described a “strange, weird, grand region” of naked rock with “cathedral-shaped buttes, towering hundreds or thousands of feet, cliffs that cannot be scaled, and canyon walls that shrink the river into insignificance.”
Buck Canyon Overlook.
Grand View Point Overlook
I never tired of looking out these great distances.