Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef, UT (Part 3)
Strolling through Pleasant Creek Canyon, I am at once drawn into the mystery. Petroglyphs are already abundant. Carvings of big horn sheep. Antelope. Snakes. Spirals. Men with horns and spears. Hand prints. All carved into the rock. A thousand years old perhaps? Two thousand? Weaving together a story. A story of a time before words. Before dates. Before time itself perhaps. And then farther down the canyon the carvings are much more recent. EMUFORD, APRIL 21, 1907. CHESALT, SEPT 29, 1933. A story of progress. Evolution. Yet all the carvings seem to be saying the same thing.
They all say “I WAS HERE.”
I proceed. Resisting the urge to make my mark in this life-size history book. Lava rock is scattered around this canyon floor. Jet black in the sun against the dazzling orange sandstone. Telling a story of a time before man.
I think of the cliff dwellers. These people of the desert. Choosing to live here in this canyon. And I feel a closeness to them. Living high up in these canyon walls. A room with an expansive view. Safe and protected. With abundant water. Abundant sunshine. Abundant idle time. Bearing their children up here on these rocks. Making love on the warm sandstone. Women crafting fine pottery. Then gathering water in these clay pots. Preparing simple meals. Gazing out over the rocks. Day in. Day out. Soaking up the great power. The buzzing energy. The grand silence of this place. And then birthing these children. Without hospitals. Doctors. Medicine. Tools of the trade. But who am I to say they didn’t have doctors? Perhaps the finest of doctors. Medicine men. Shamans. Masters of their trade. Holding sacred space. Traveling these desert canyons. Trading their services for a meal. A clay pot. Precious stones. Or just serving the Gods. Serving mankind.
Evidence suggests war. Violence. But in the long gaps between times of turmoil, I like to imagine these early desert dwellers as peaceful people. Spiritual people. With respect for the land. The water they drink. The animals and plants that feed them. And the shelter the rock provides. But more than that, I like to imagine them as Enlightened Beings. Wise. Happy. And full of peace. Full of gratitude for this place of undeniable beauty.