Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Notes from Page Sixty Eight

WORD COUNT: 17,424  PAGE: 68

Grand Gulch is part of the Colorado Plateau smunched and cut off from the rest of the world by Lake Powell and sort of the Grand Canyon in Arizona- though I am too lazy, sipping my tea on my bed at the moment to go get a map and verify I am right- basically it is a huge labyrinth of deep canyons cut by small streams as they find their way to the Colorado River, now under Lake Powell in the middle of nowhere, I am talking the eppa center of nowhere- just where my husband loves to go!

We camped and hiked there a few years ago, and above the contentious nervous feeling I had that I would never see another living soul again- I have to confess it was interesting. If he reads this he will think I want to go back!!
On our hike we went down into a meandering canyon cut by the creek and had to navigate the smaller side canyons, more keeping track of which direction we had come from- the thought I always have is- if Jon get hit on the head- will I know which way the truck is?
The climate is totally different down in these deep canyons, an oasis to the harsh desolate terrain above. You will come across streams that run all winter long and where there is water there is life.
Richard Wetherill, one of the brothers I mentioned in my Notes from Page One post, who helped Gustaf Nordenskiold excavate the ruins of Mesa Verde, went on to be a renowned if uneducated archaeologist in his own right and lead a large expedition into Grand Gulch, backed by the trust funds of Fred and Talbot Hyde, wealthy and bored young Easterners who had met Richard in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition ( World's Fair) to celebrate Columbus finding America 400 years before. But I digress!
A book, Cowboys and Cave Dwellers retraces the expedition, trying to find the exact places through matching of photographs.
We came across  the remains of our own cowboy camp.....

I don't think it was from the Wetherill/ Hyde Expedition- but it could of been. Wow to walk into something that should be behind glass in a museum, or at least have a scarlett velvet rope, around it to protect it, is something else.

But there it was, completely unprotected from anyone who wanted to take or damage what they found. But what I have discovered, the deeper and more isolated a sight like this is, or for that matter a native site, like the cliff dwellings, the more protected they are.
People who have to, want to, drive for hours, hike for hours to see such things, usually, and I emphasize "usually" respect them. The easy to get to sights are the ones that have been stripped of everything they had to offer.

Sights like this cowboy camp bring up an interesting debate, is this now a archaeological site  to be preserved  or just a trash heap that should be cleaned up?

From a different time and place, these cowboys from the 1800's and early 1900's regularly left their marks on the walls right next to the marks left by the ancient people, where is the distinction between preserving those markings and considering them graffiti?
I don't know the answer. I know that coming to a place like this cowboy camp is thrilling to me, I can stand in the middle of it and feel the "ghosts" of who was there, crouched by the fire to take their coffee off, consisting of a handful of beans swimming in a tin can, that probably contained peaches at one time. To see how they made what they needed, from the poles of dried up trees and hung things out of necessity so the varmints wouldn't get it in the night. To look at the ground where they made their beds, certain they would of preferred the cool night air, to the musty shelter if the weather allowed.
The needs of the ancient people that were here first, or the cowboys that came after them, or even me, as a hiker, are no different, we all need protection from the elements, water, a fire source and food. So it should be of no surprise we all find shelter under the same rock alcove, in a lush canyon away from the elements, near a reliable stream.
People really haven't changed that much, when you think about it.

1 comment:

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