May 22, 2016

San Rafael Swell Wildflowers

claret cup cactus
Many wildflowers were in bloom when we visited the San Rafael in mid-May.  I will attach my best guess at names, but I can't guarantee accuracy.  Please let me know if you have a better idea.
Fendler's Hedgehog cactus
Fendler's Hedgehog cactus flower

Penstemon Ambiguus ?

Penstemon ambiguus flower

Penstemon ?

Scapose Greenthread

Yellow Cryptanth


May 15, 2016

Buckhorn Wash Pictographs

The Buckhorn Wash pictograph panel is on a dirt road, easily accessible.  The slant of the cliff above partially protects the panel from weather.

This sign was under a slanted sun cover.  Sorry the light and shadow make it hard to read.  The picture shows the full extent of the panel and explains that 2 different ancient cultures are represented in the art.
 As you can see in examples to the side of the warning, much of this panel was vandalized.  The sign below explains a little about the painstaking repair efforts:
Here is some of the rock art followed by photos of explanatory signs: 

I didn't take a photo of an actual pictograph to go along with this sign, but it's interesting because snakes are commonly seen in rock art:
This last one is a petroglyph, pecked into the rock instead of painted on like most of the panel:
We can only guess at the meaning of this prehistoric art, but it does give us a glimpse into the life and times of the native people who once lived here.

May 14, 2016

Rock Art along the San Rafael River

On a trip to the San Rafael River near Castle Dale, Utah, we hoped to find interesting rock art.
With all the beautiful scenery along the ride, we would have been happy campers even if we had made no new discoveries.
We made a short side trip to Cane Wash to view a panel we had seen once before.  Note the hand print, which is about the size of an average 12 year old in today's world.
The river shone in the sun, the temperature stayed in the 60's, and the trail along the river was easy to follow and nice traveling for the horses.
We climbed away from the river to some cliffs where we hoped to find rock art.  On the other side of the rock formation behind Janie and Mischief, we found this polychromatic panel:
Daisy was not impressed, even though the red and yellow pictograph coloring is unusual.
The location is high above the river, possibly a lookout post 1000 or more years ago.  The artists would have enjoyed the above view while creating their pictographs.
Is this a "stairway to heaven"?  
Note the animals depicted.  Maybe the representations were meant to bring good luck in hunting.  
We Three Kings of ancient Utah are?  The 3 figures all wear different robes.  Maybe the styles indicate rank or an individual's role in the tribe.    
Later, Steve climbed up to the cliffs to check out the smooth sandstone panels for art.
 He found some petroglyphs, such as the above spiral (a figure common in rock art),
 and some faded figures. Do you see the star on the right?  Maybe the 3 kings were following it...

May 8, 2016

Spring on Antelope Island

Lupine with the rock formation known as Elephant Head in the background
Antelope Island is a Utah State Park surrounded by the Great Salt Lake and reached via a causeway.  The first week of May, Antelope Island has turned green
Wildflowers are in bloom.
Indian Paintbrush
Sweet Fennel


Balsam Root


 tiny, delicate Claytonia perfoliata

Claytonia perfoliata is also known as Miner's lettuce.  The leaves are edible and provide vitamin C.  Western gold miners ate it to prevent scurvy. 
Gooseberry bushes

Gooseberry branch with buds

Globemallow hill
Boss eating thistle buds VERY carefully.

Boss enjoying the plentiful grass

We saw antelope, buffalo, raptors and chukars.  Meadowlarks sang everywhere.  Spring has arrived on the island.  Biting flies and gnats have arrived, too, so it's a good idea to wipe down yourself and your horses with insect repellent!


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