Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 Spring Trip - Day 8 - Cathedral Valley, Head of Sinbad

Friday, March 29, 2013

Today is the day I start heading east.  I need to get home on Sunday and it is a two day trip.  I want to get to Kearney before sunset so I can have another evening and morning with the cranes.  With the numbers I saw last weekend there will no doubt be many left to see.

But first I have a new morning in Cathedral Valley to enjoy.  I got going well before sunset and made the short drive back into Capitol Reef National Park.  It was just a half mile or so before I saw the Sun and Moon Temples.  The moon was still hanging in the western sky and provided a nice backdrop for my first image of the temples.

Both monoliths are east facing and catch the morning light perfectly and on this morning everything fell together.  As the sun rose the light painted the temples with a warm glow and made them stick out like the sentinels they are.

The road takes you right in from of both monoliths which gives you a good opportunity to see them up close.  Looking closer at the lines you see from a distance you begin to understand the layers upon layers of sand a sediment built up over millions of years.  In fact the monoliths are composed of Entrada Sandstone that was deposited in the Jurassic period some 160 million years ago. 

While the monoliths look like strong fortresses from a distance up close you see how soft and erosive they can be.  In the presence of water these walls  easily crumble into fine sand and are carried far away.  You don't tend to see talus slopes in the area because of this.


A short drive takes you past the smaller Moon Temple and the horizon opens up to the broad landscape to the east.  A short hike and I found myself on a small bluff where I just sat down and drank in the sight in front on me.  (I also made this picture)

Leaving the home of Sun and Moon Temples I was faced with the decision of how I was going to get back on the highway, there was two ways to go.  I could continue on and complete the loop or I could go back the way I came.  Continuing on the loop has little prospect of seeing anything like I had seen up to this point so the decision was pretty easy.  I decided to head back from where I came besides there was the Bentonite Hills I wanted to see again since I'd quickly driven over them the previous day.

The Bentonite Hills remind me of the Badlands but much more colorful.  A moonscape comes to mind not only driving thru the hills but on the surrounding areas.  The lines and shapes and colors are simply mesmerizing and I could spend a good amount of time wandering thru and over these hills. Time was going fast and I had one last stop I wanted to make before heading east.

It's pretty amazing what you can see right along the interstate when driving thru Utah.  The clouds were perfect and a rest area was just ahead so I pulled off and made a few snaps like the one above.

Along I-70 there are a number of short excursions to various rock art sites.  I had wanted to go to Black Dragon Canyon but I missed the dirt road turnoff from I-70, and there are no easy turnarounds along this highway.  But a bit further was another pictograph, the Head of Sinbad.  This panel is attributed to the Barrier Canyon Culture and are estimated to be some 3,000 years old.  In January 1980 they were featured in National Geographic Magazines as National Treasures.

This wrapped up an exciting day and it was time to hit the road and head over to Grand Junction for the night.  This will put me in a good position to be at Kearney, NE for sunset along the Platte River.


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