Saturday, September 5, 2009
"HARVEST SCENE" (Pictograph Loop Trail)
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Like Horseshoe Canyon with "Great Gallery", The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park (fee area) offers great Barrier Canyon style art work in a beautiful mural, via a hike. This too-cool pictograph style is about 2000 years old or more, and it's survival depends on us. Thankfully, not too many vandals will go to the trouble here.
Getting there is half the fun (or torture, depending on your back and butt). Don't even try to access this hike without a high-clearance 4WD vehicle. And then you better know how to handle a CJ or Cherokee well.
Turn east on a dirt road between Hwy. 95 mile marker 46 and 47 into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This dirt track is technically Rt. 633 here. In the beginning you will wonder what the problem is for cars, until you get to the Teapot Rock area. Scenic paved Utah Hwy. 95 runs from Blanding to Hanksville, Utah. It is an awesome road in itself. I especially like the White Canyon area heading west from Blanding.
Anyway, it's over 5 hours from the turn off of the pavement to the Chimney Rock campground (primitive) in the Maze, even though it's less than 50 miles. Get your camping permit from the Hans Flat Ranger Station reserved. (We were able to do it by phone.) Believe it or not, park personnel do patrol this most desolate region. You probably will get busted without a permit.
The first 30 miles on the dirt road are easy driving, where you come to a four way junction. Turn right and learn how to drive or get high-centered. DO NOT EXCEED 5MPH IN THE TEAPOT ROCK AREA. You will go from Glen Canyon NRA to Canyonlands NP just after the "Golden Stairs" about 40 miles from Rt. 95. Good news! If you make it this far, you''ll make it to your Chimney Rock campsite (which is the trail head), after passing "The Wall" and "Standing Rock" campsites. All are primitive.
THE HIKE: There are three cairned trails at Chimney Rock campground. Take the left most, continuing to bear left, then descending into a drainage which is Pictograph Fork. After the descent, the walking is easy in a northwesterly direction. The Harvest Scene panel about 1 1/2 hours northwest from camp is the focus. After a good look, continue down canyon (north) about a mile to a large drainage right. You do not want to miss this turn, or you may be in dehydration and/or search party trouble. Eventually the trail will ascend up this drainage on the right side. When you get up on top, you can see Chimney Rock to the right or south, your landmark for camp. Pete's Mesa is left. The route to camp should be cairned on slickrock. This is about a 9 mile loop as described. Allowing time to study the pictograph panel is the main consideration, other than not getting lost. But this one is not too hard to follow. If one can get to the camp site, obviously one is cognizant.
Hey, this baby is a real pain all the way around, and worth the trouble. This hike can not possibly be done without an overnight, primitive camping experience. Don't try to drive around here if it's wet.
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