Monday, March 16, 2009

Ride 20 - Gunlock Petroglyphs

We've been told about the petroglyphs just up the street from us several times now; but, as the weather turned a bit too warm to ride, we finally took the trip. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 20 - Gunlock Petroglyphs]

We took the truck, without the ATVs, up old highway 91 through Arizona into Utah. The gunlock turnoff comes up on you fairly quickly around a corner. Cross the bridge and run up to the huge rock dam on the river.

Several large basaltic rocks on the right contain real petroglyphs and, unfortunately, several "ass tracks." You need to get out and hike a bit on the hillside or you will miss several rocks with glyphs. (Please download the Google Earth file for this "ride" and see the trail and waypoints for the glyphs.)

Further up the canyon (about a mile or so) be looking REAL hard for a red dirt, very steep, graded trail making a very hard right up the wash. On the left there are some old rock works of the former town of "Shem."

It looks daunting, and for old codgers it is. But one step at a time will soon have you feeling accomplished for having climbed about 150 feet in elevation in about a half mile.

We met a group of seniors who had just made the trek and showed us the photo's they had taken. However, I must say that the directions we were given weren't very clear so we kept looking for landmarks which we never found.

Watch for the cliff on the right side to get lower until there is a clear trail running to the right and toward the far cliff edge. Follow the trail a bit slightly upward to the top and admire the vistas.

There is no real trail once you get on top. Wander around and look for glyphs on several rocks. They, most likely, are marker rocks which point (in glyph language) to the "real" hilltop petroglyphs over on the vertiginous, far south side of the cliffs.

There are several rocks there which hold glyphs, but one that stands out and is so covered it defies interpretation. WATCH YOUR STEP, it's a loong way down!

The glyphs didn't look like the photo we had been shown from the way we saw it, and we had been led to believe that we should expect to find a "panel." To me, that means a very large flat rock, so we felt the need to keep looking.

If you come to a fork in the road... take it.”
Lawrence Peter ("Yogi" Berra)

Dad was done in, so I kept on walking up the trail only to find... nothing. I came across a widened area once use as a campsite and eventually the abandoned Caterpillar which had graded the trail. The fenceline at the border of the Shivwits indian reservation had a gate which was open so I walked a bit further up the trail. Nada.

I returned back to the car shortly after dad had arrived and we were ready for a drink. We drove up the canyon, thinking we might stop at a store in Gunlock but didn't find one.

We found the Gunlock rodeo grounds, and a church but no store. The bridge was flooded out not much further up the road, so we returned.

By the way (don't expect cell phone signal on the trip).


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