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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eerie Feelings In Horse Shoe Canyon

Such are the delays and gaps when blogging in T'mon (The Middle Of Nowhere). Here, finally, is part two of the prior post, and photos of the pictographs we sand-slogged to in Horseshoe Canyon. They date as far back as 700 AD... a pretty durable paint formula I'd say. 

I had an uneasy feeling, hiking past twisted, black-trunked cottonwood trees that line Horse Shoe Canyon. They looked spooky, frozen in contortionist pose. Cadmium yellow leaves glowed and flickered in the breeze like a thousand miniature suns; an uncomplimentary contrast, yellow leaves and pink sandstone. But who am I to judge the outfits Mother Nature throws on. Let's just say, it's not something I would wear... except on Halloween.

It was the old wrinkle-barked autumnal cottonwoods that made the sand-slog to Horse Shoe's pictographs seem easier. "Look at that one... Look at that one." It kept cameras busy, and minds off slow-sand. 

Between photogenic cottonwoods, my mind wandered elsewhere. It was familiar, that spot "between a rock and a hard place." You see, a ways downstream there is a slot canyon by the name of Blue John. It's plumbed to dump flash flood debris into Horse Shoe, as well as the bones of occasional adventurous types... guys like Aron Ralston. Aron was rescued by helicopter just downstream from where we hiked after being found by a wandering family, out for a desert wash stroll out in T'mon. 

In case some readers were living in a "cave," let me remind that "Between A Rock and A Hard Place" is Aron Ralston's book: the movie, 127 Hours, is based on his book. They detail how an adventure seeking kid went off to solo a slot canyon and ended up minutes from death and minus an arm. Just a slight tug on a boulder... something we all do all the time... brought it down, pinning his hand and arm against the canyon wall. After days without water, growing weak with infection and hallucination setting in, Aron became fearful of falling asleep and not waking up. So he took the only tool he had, a dull pocket knife, and cut through the flesh, tendons and muscle of his own arm. He recalled later how much work it took. Cutting through nerves was the worse part. It sent burning hot pokers up his arm, clear to his brain. 

Frustrated by not being able to cut through the bones in his forearm, he leveraged all his body weight against a fulcrum bulge of stone, and with an almighty all-or-nothing heave, snapped the bones in two. One armed, bleeding profusely, Aron fought to remain conscious. Somehow he made it out of Blue John, with a long vertical repel into Horse Shoe Canyon. 

I couldn't believe my eyes when Aron started making the talk show circuit to promote his book. I don't know how one is supposed to act after enduring what he went through. But he seemed so casual about it... like, "Hey, it's part of life. You gotta move on." He even showed photos... including the one's of him cutting off his arm. 

It wasn't until years later that the life-altering trauma of that event sent him spiraling down into the depths of depression. But he's Aron Ralston. He's tough. He survived that, too.


Our outdoor adventures are stacking up. Stay tuned as Bobbie and I take on two slot canyons. Don't worry, we're ok :)).
Thanks for you comments... they fuel the BCB, and I enjoy finding out who else has been where we go, and suggestions of other places nearby that we might miss. 

I'm looking out my window at a red rock canyon. Cottonwoods grow along the creek that flows under Goldie's nose. Bobbie is exploring its source as I post this. The cold is gone; it's pushing upper 70's and I'm wearing shorts, t shirt and flip flops. Heaven.


After Horse Shoe and the San Rafael Swell, we moved on to Capital Reef


  1. Slot canyons are our favorite hikes, especially the red rock variety.
    Looks like you have the campground at Cap Reef to yourselves.
    We are driving through the very Mexican feeling city of Laredo, TX right now. Definitely need to bone up on our Spanish for this winter!

  2. I love slot canyons but will stick with the non-technicals. I'm not as brave/young/stupid as Ralston.

    Those pictographs are much newer than the ones I'd hoped to see at Shamans Gallery. Maybe next year.

    Loving your backyard.

  3. Don't miss the crazy ride over ten thousand lakes to drop down to Cathedral Valley. Of cours you will find Long Canyon and do the Burr Trail. You can feel the heart of the earth in the water pocket fold.

  4. Goldie looks right at home at Capitol Reef campground. She blends in nicely with the fall foliage. Nice to balance T'mon campsites with NPS campsites. Just wait till Zion once she gets a taste of full hu's...it may be hard to return to the T'mon...... Old Blue will be waiting;-)

  5. I think your words and photos would make EA proud and even envious, especially of the place and time you are enjoying now with Bobbie. Enjoy!

  6. I saw 127 Hours, but Wayne hasn't...if he did I might never get him off boardwalked trails! Great shots, as usual.

  7. Jim and Gayle,
    Let's do some "red rocking" down the road sometime. Enjoy South Texas! Adios, amigos.

    New old pix, I guess :)) They will still be there next year... I have a hunch. Thanks.

    I love your "earth poetry." So many places, so little time. And the hard part is, I want to see some of them more than once.

    Full hook ups often lands us in place that don't fill our "cups." So Goldie will just have to go without... except for November, at the Zion River RV Resort. Swimming pool, movie stars... We are Beverly Hillbillys for a month :))

    Shucks, Gumo... I bet you sat that to all the bloggers :)) Actually, anyone who extolls the virtues of western landscapes would be welcome in Ed Abbey's camp. Thanks, G.

    Pam and Wayne,
    Then don't let him near the book, either. I hope to keep the photos coming. and thank you.



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