Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Snake Gulch to the Corral

I recommend it.
Snake Gulch is full of pictographs (and a few petroglyphs) from the "Basketmakers", 300 BC to 800 AD. I would call this place Canon Pintado if it wasn't already taken. The jurisdiction is Kaibab National Forest (Kanab Creek Wilderness). An easy terrain hike, out-and-back to the corral and/or spring at Table Rock took us 6 1/2 hours, including lunch. It's about 6 miles each way and features mostly red pigmented pictographs. Hike early in the day to see the north side art work more easily in the shade. Snake Gulch trail runs generally east to west on this hike. The first art site is mostly petroglyphs in an alcove right, about 45 minutes into the hike. After that keep looking right all the way to the corral, which is about 3 1/2 hours into the hike (including sightseeing). Some pictographs are ankle-high and some are 20 feet above the trail. Apparently many ledges have fallen down. There are also many ruin piles, not of much discernibility except to archaeologists. They are still cool though, with some stone fencing obvious. Turn around at the corral and cross to the south side of the gulch as there are a couple of nice panels there. The corral has not much remaining except for fence posts. Recognize it by the granaries behind it and below an alcove. If doing a multi-day hike of Snake Gulch, there is a camping site existing on the south side of the gulch, across from the corral. This should be plenty of a day, shouldering a full pack. The Table Rock spring was dry this fall day.
Access: 1 mile south of Fredonia, Az. take a right onto Forest Service Route 22 for 21 miles paved and 1 1/2 miles gravel. Turn right on FS 423 for 1 1/3 mi., then right on FS 642 for 2.6 miles to the trail head. The trail is about an hour from downtown Kanab.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Archaic Rock Art

Thx to Jim A. and "Untitled Topo" for getting us here
Clue: our crack is left
Clue: this chasm's on the way
Clue: trailhead view

Clue: trail fossils on the way
Clue: Scarlett Johanson was not here
 Green is very unusual in "Barrier Canyon" art

Jack Sprague, chairperson of the Conservation and Preservation Committee for the ARARA submitted to Mr. G. Smith in 2008 that he was very distressed that Mr. Smith had published directions to a Barrier Canyon rock art site on the internet. I have spent 15 plus years investigating this remarkable (3000-4000 years old) style of rock art and my first inclination was to spout: "OK Mr. Sprague, so you can see this wunderbar site but no one else may?" Well, after having seen the sights for myself, I agree with Mr. S. this time. I rigorously object to a "don't ask don't tell" discipline regarding cultural resources, as I don't believe that most beer drinking vandals are willing to hike 10 miles to do their damage (I know it only takes one). I also find that if government personnel is pressed that they will give you just enough information to get you killed. When someone is sincere and determined to find a site in the desert, this is an absurd policy. However, the site which Mr. Sprague refers to is extraordinarily fragile. So I am not going to give you but clues here, unlike my usual hiking guides. By the way, Mr. Smith did cease and desist  publicly announcing the position of this site. Alas, unfortunately this is a good thing.
I will tell you that there are many miles of rough road (you must bear south 32 miles after entering the main gravel road from the highway) and a 1700 vertical elevation (in 3 miles) climb out of this site. Not for most casual vandals, but "Annie", you have gone or are going to Hell-Karma says.
I will say that I am not as concerned for this site as I am for Sego and Buckhorn. Those two sites are extremely accessible. Horseshoe (the quintessential) is protected by Rangers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cottonwood Canyon Ruin Site

This wonderful site near Kanab, Ut. is one of the few cliff dwellings in the area. It is a difficult (approximately) 7 1/2 mile round trip hike and a person will likely only average just over a mile per hour. Well worth it! Start across Rt. 89 from the Hog Canyon 4WD playground entrance (so you will be entering the sandy track on the west side of the highway). After wallowing around a while you will find the only place where you can easily 4WD across Kanab Creek. First priority is to scramble to the top of the rim on the north side of Trail Canyon. You will (as per usual) constantly be thinking "this must be the top", but it isn't. If you began to get vertical asap, eventually find a tepee-shaped white dome rock formation and head for the deep red rocks directly above and northwest of the tepee. Shortly thereafter you reach a fence and the top. It is only about 3/4 mi. from bottom to top, but close to an hour. After going through the fence head west-south-west through sandy rim terrain for about 1 1/4 miles. This terrain is up and down, up and down-another hour. You should not get lost here, keeping Trail Canyon to your left. Tiny Canyon is on your right. Stay as close to Trail Canyon as possible while trying to stay westbound. Intersect an old 4WD trail (archaeologists or pot-hunters made this I assume) which has not been used for 20 years and heads still westerly. Difficult to follow in places (and we saw a rattlesnake too), but you don't belong out here if you can't do it. 25 minutes or 1 mile on this obscure track brings you to an intersection with a more evident north and south 2-track. This is the most important junction since gaining the rim. Go south on this track for five minutes to a locked gate and fence. Walk west along the fence 5 minutes or so to the canyon rim. This is not actually Cottonwood but it IS where the ruin is. At the end of the fence you are at the northern "finger" of a 3 "finger" canyon. Head south along the rim, keeping the canyon on your right. Basically heading south and west, 15 minutes from the fence you are standing directly above the ruin but will never see it. This cost me hours of rambling around. Now stay close to the rim! Heading primarily west now and looking back north and east, eventually (15 minutes approx. after you were standing directly above the site) you will spot an alcove which faces west and is almost obscured by vegetation. There it is! Get out the binoculars and you will confirm ancient dwellings before scrambling down. It's a tough climb down and back up (15 minutes out) and more rattlers live here. I don't know that this site is worth dying for, but snakes are scared of you too. Most bites occur if we people want to play with snakes. Rattlesnakes don't play, puppies do.
There is another way to the site but I am not sharing right now.