Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Capitol Reefer Madness

August 14

I picked up a couple of hiking companions in Caineville, shortly after leaving Mesa Farms.  The small dogs looked to be a beagle/collie mix assuming those two breeds are even sexually compatible.  They were a lot better behaved than Spazz the Mutt, who joined me in Kentucky, darting into traffic as if being hit by a car was his only goal in life.  These two followed along content to search the roadside for fun, but always keeping pace with B.J. and I.  Five miles into our excursion their owner showed up and our fellowship came to a close.
Ten more miles brought me to the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park, which was originally a National Monument until President Nixon promoted it for good behavior.  The main attractions of the Reef were still to come, but I did encounter evidence of some of the earliest inhabitants, the Fremont Indians.  Contemporaries of the Anasazi, the Fremonts lived in the area from 700 to 1300 A.D., although they probably weren't named after the first Republican presidential candidate at that time.  The structures I saw were much simpler than the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings of the Anasazi, small granaries and storage chambers built into the sandstone.  Archeologists know the culture to have revolved around corn horticulture and foraging, but they are in the process of making up the rest of the details.  The discovery of a new undisturbed sight at Range Creek in Utah will provide more yarn for the spinning of their fanciful tales.
Erosion of that sandstone produced an effect I have only seen in only one other place, Cappadocia, Turkey.  Countless small holes made the rock face look like Swiss cheese in spots.  Tiny caves only a few feet in circumference are the result, many of them separated by only a thin pillar, the resident rodents only a few thousand years away from having a duplex.

As I neared the main course I was met by a park ranger named Jordan who made sure I was coping with the heat okay and showed me a short cut to the campground.  I thanked her and continued on, coming to Navajo Dome, a structure which reminded me of an onion pulled from the earth with the tuber still intact.  Of course, if there were onions a thousand feet tall and hundreds of yards wide we would have this whole world hunger thing under control.
Navajo's neighbor from across the street is Capitol Dome, which appears to be a huge pile of stone penises. I felt this to be a pretty fair representation of the current makeup of Congress.
Next I took a side trip to the Hickman Natural Bridge, a couple of miles round trip off Utah 24.  What I saw looked exactly like many of the arches at Arches National Park.  In fact all "bridge" formations are arches, they just tend to have a nice flat surface on top you can walk across.
The last sight of the day were the petroglyphs.  These are examples of rock art left by the Fremonts.  The drawings I saw were stick-figurish depictions of humans and bighorn sheep, more evidence human behavior has remained unchanged throughout the eons.  Nowadays we put those silly stickers on the back window of our vehicle.
Click on the pic to make it full size and you can see how many kids and pets these Indians had!

Jordan's suggested shortcut worked perfectly and I lay in repose at Fruita Campground by seven.  She came over to check whether I had arrived and left me with a bag of fresh apples from the adjacent orchards, which the park service now operate.  Fruita was once home to a small Mormon farming community, but like the Fremonts they have moved on, the last leaving in the 1950s.  I will follow their example in the morning.

22 miles/3156 total miles

No comments: