By: Matt Sandler, Rocky Mountain Wild
June 9, 2017
Each day at Bears Ears I would take Micah and Leo for an evening hike. I put Micah in the back carrier and we would walk. I tended to meander off the road at some point towards a different rock feature. Our campsite is surrounded by tall trees that can be seen from a distance. I keep checking to confirm I’m not lost. Getting disoriented in this area would be a disaster. Especially with an almost 6 year, a 2 ½ year old strapped on my back, and a setting sun. At moments I’d get that tinge of anxiety from a momentary spatial confusion and the realization of how bad getting lost would be. What would Jen be thinking? Then I’d scope the tall trees and feel reassured.
On our third day we walked up the road for about a mile. I came to the campsite Jen described as “hell.” She was right, it would have been hot, unshaded, cramped, uneven and dusty. I took this picture to vindicate her.
But then I noticed the rock dome about 200 yards in from this site. We decided to explore. We walked on the rounded sandstone features approaching the dome. It turns out that the soil here is an ecosystem of its own. It is called Cryptobiotic Soil and walking on it can damage its fragile balance.
I know I took some stray steps in our wandering and feel bad for the impacts I caused. It’s easy to dismiss a few steps here and there, but add up all the visitors to this location and the impacts can be great. That doesn’t even account for the vast grazing allowed on these lands. Surely the Native inhabitants walked on this soil, or did they?
The sandstone dome we were approaching stood almost exactly in the middle of the valley surrounded by streaked cliff walls and some type of sage brush, pinon forest. As we got closer the sun was setting. The wispy clouds were a shade of purple. We walked closer to the dome. We proceeded around the South side and there it was. Ancient Anasazi structures built into the rock wall. I was awe struck. This was where they lived, the inhabitants who left their markings at our campsite. After days of exploring and wandering aimlessly towards the surrounding cliff walls, here it was. This was where they lived. It was a magical moment. Stumbling upon these ruins, with my children, sun setting, petroglyphs etched into the stone – mind blown.
Did you see The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 9, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 8, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 7, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 6, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 5, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 4, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 3, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 2, or The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 1?