May 13, 2021

Lion's Mouth Cave

 

Earlier today, I accompanied my friend Matt on a botany field trip.  Matt is a professor of botany at Southern Utah University here in Cedar City.  We had been talking about doing this trip for a number of weeks now, and had our first chance today.   

On the way west out of town to one of his favorite spots for camping and looking at wildflowers, we stopped at an archaeological site called Lion's Mouth Cave.  I had heard of this place many times, but never had a chance to visit.  We turned off of the major road and onto a dirt road to get to the parking lot and trailhead.  After a short hike, we arrived at the cave.  It is located in a tall and lumpy outcropping of rock made of volcanic tuff from an ancient volcanic eruption.  This stone is pinkish and fairly rough and crumbly. You can see the cave in the photo above under the overhanging rock if you look carefully.

The cave faces due west, and I suspect that it catches the sunsets at both equinoxes, Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice.  That would make it a ceremonial site. 


Inside the cave, the walls are adorned with a wide variety of pictographs in red, white and yellow.  I am not familiar with this style, but assume that this rock art was made by the Fremont Indians of 1000 years ago.  From what I could decipher and energetically track, this gathering place may have been associated with fertility, crops and harvesting.  There are many images here that are reminiscent of corn plants, and the cave looks out on what could have been fields for planting. 

In general, when I have come across rock art panels in SW Utah, these have been gathering places.  Below are some photos of this really interesting rock art. 








There were also many plants of interest along this trail, and in the area of the other trail we hiked further up the road.  I was mainly making a mental note of what we saw, but the highlight was the Owens Valley penstemon, which was numerous and in full bloom. Here is this lovely plant.



May 12, 2021

Change in E-Mail Subscriptions

 

I am in the process of switching over to Mail Chimp from Feedburner for the automatic e-mails that are generated after I have written a post.  Feedburner is discontinuing this service as of July 1st.  Until I know that the switch has been successful, you will be receiving 2 e-mails, one from each service, unless I manually disconnect from Feedburner by July.  Hope this is not too problematic for all of you! 

May 10, 2021

Cedar Breaks National Monument

I have written about Cedar Breaks many times.  The road to get to the monument closes around mid-October because of the heavy snow that falls in the area.  It is located a bit above 10,000 feet!  However, people can get there with cross country skis and snowmobiles to admire the fabulous views.  

About a week ago, the access road was plowed and visitors were welcomed once again, even though the official park buildings will still remain closed for a few weeks.  My friends Elz and Peter and I drove up there yesterday, since Elz will be leaving Cedar City to go back to Oregon in a few days, and Peter is a new arrival.  Neither of them had been up to Cedar Breaks.  It was chilly and windy, but the views were fabulous.  Here are some photos.










May 7, 2021

The Latest Utah Adventure

 

For the past few weeks, my friend Elz has been staying with our friend Peter here in Cedar City.  We have had some marvelous adventures, and a few days ago, Elz and I did a road trip north of here into west central Utah.  Our destination was the Fremont Indian State Park, which is located in the Clear Creek Canyon along Interstate 70 near Sevier.  The Fremont Indians were contemporaries of the Ancestral Puebloans of the Four Corners area, and perhaps inhabited this area a bit later. 

The park and museum opened in 1987 around the time that interstate 70 was built.  It features camping, hiking and lots of trails.  The highlight is the absolute abundance of rock art that is all over the place, consisting of petroglyphs and pictographs. 

Now, I am used to seeing rock art mainly on sandstone in the southwest, but this rock art was different.  Many millions of years ago, local volcanoes erupted, covering this whole area with tens of feet of volcanic material in the form of tuff.  Tuff is fairly soft as far as rocks go, and it is easy to carve into.  Unfortunately, because of this, it erodes very easily, too.  So some of the petroglyphs were easy to see, and many others were pretty rough because of the erosion. 

Elz and I stopped in at the park museum at the end of our first day to get the lay of the land, before checking into our hotel in Richfield, east on the highway.  With an early start the next day, we methodically drove from site to site and covered as much of the rock art sites as we could.  Most of them were along Clear Creek Road and involved short hikes and scrambles up steep slopes.  The effort was certainly worth it!  Below is some of the rock art that we saw. 







On down the road was the Sheep Shelter Site.  Archaeologists excavated down to the bottom of this alcove and found a hearth dating back to 3700 B.C.  Wow!  The rock art below consists of bighorn sheep and a scorpion.  It was not visible from the front of the shelter.  To photograph it, I had to stick my arm and camera through the bars of the fence and shoot angled upwards and back towards me.  You can see a bit of the top of the fence in the photo.

Across the road and way up the slope was the pictograph called "Indian Blanket".

The next site was called the "Arch of Art".  Below is a video of the very extensive rock formation that is just covered with art!
Here is some of the rock art that we spied on the flat surfaces, nooks and crannies.




We then crossed over Clear Creek and under the interstate to the "Cave of 100 Hands".

We had been driving along the road towards the museum from the east, looking at all of the sites, and decided to stop there for some shopping and a snack.  There are numerous hiking trails leading up slope from the back of the building, and we decided to take a trail up to what was labeled as a meditation spiral.  I have to say that this was one of the highlights of the whole trip!  After hiking quite a ways above the road below, here it was.  Elz and I both did a walking meditation in the spiral, and I definitely felt the spirits of the ancestors of the land while I did so.  I do not know how old this spiral was, but it definitely needed to be fed energetically by people walking it in a sacred manner.  It felt a bit depleted.  We were very happy to energize it once again!

After saying goodby to the delightful ladies at the museum, our final stop was at Newspaper Rock. BTW, there is also a Newspaper Rock at Canyonlands south of Moab, Utah.  The hallmark of these 2 sites is the dense amount of rock art packed into a relatively small space.  To see this here, we had to look across the road and very far up the slope.  I have a 30X zoom on my camera, and I needed every bit of that to see the petroglyph panel. I've cropped and enhanced the photo on the bottom so that you can see the density of the rock art.


On our way back to Cedar City, we stopped at the Crazy Cow in Beaver for some lunch.  Needless to say, I was pretty tired after 2 days of adventure, and skipped my Zoom Zumba class that evening!