In search of a ruin….“You must take the Ancient Steps to enter……”

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by RedDirtDawg, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. RedDirtDawg

    RedDirtDawg Vagabond

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Peering through his wire rim glasses, the soft spoken man was giving me that little crooked smile of his again. At odds with my own garb, he would always be dressed casually conservative. Mild in his manor, I had always thought of him as being an ‘elderly’ gentleman. Though in reality, I am sure there is not much distance between the date of his birth and that of mine. It’s funny, how as you get older…..everyone else ages, but you never seem to hold this same truth for yourself.

    I know little about this man other than the fact he carries a surname that lets me know his ancestors were original members of the San Juan Mission (also known as the Hole-In-The-Rock Expedition) of 1879-80 and founders of the little town Utah he is from and has lived in his whole life.

    Nor do I remember the first time we had ever met. Only that it was years ago and we had developed a coyish rapport together right from the start.

    As the cool darkness of a spring night began to fall upon us, we stood there together under a street light, not far from where Hwy 191 snakes past the visitor’s center on the north end of Blanding, Utah.

    We had met like this many times before ….different locations around town…… never planned……..always just by chance. There had never been an exchange of phone numbers or email addresses between us…… no chance of him knowing in advance when I might be rolling into town. Most of the time, I myself, would never know when I would be blowing in. Thus, my ‘drive-thrus’, stops or stays there were usually just a ‘spontaneous’ spur of the moment decision. But each time I approached the town limits in my Jeep, seeing that old familiar sign ‘Blanding –Base Camp to Adventure’…..I would ask myself ~ “I wonder if I will I bump into him again today?”~ shrugging my shoulder I would just whisper “naw ” under my breath to myself.

    Still…. there he would be more times than not… as I would be leaving a restaurant or stopping for gas….or once coming across the Clarks grocery store parking lot…I would catch someone out of the corner of my eye slowly approaching me as I would be heading towards my parked Jeep.

    Now on this mid-April evening we were playing this same song again. Having just had an interesting conversation over dinner at the Homestead Steak House with the archeologist from the local BLM Field office….I was ready to call it a night. Walking towards my vehicle ….I could see a silhouette of a figure seeming to be heading to the restaurant. We met halfway between the Jeep and the eatery. And there it was……him again. He said “Hello Rick” and I knew what would ensue now. It always starts out so shallow. Just pleasant “howdy do’s” but in the back of my mind knowing it would go deeper in it’s bantering way before it ends.

    We caught each other up on archeolgical sites that we had visited since our last encounter. Places common to both of us. Then in it’s usual way….the conversation would take a subtle turn…..as if we had never met each other before. Enticing each other with clues to a new site we knew each other had never seen before. A cat and mouse game of sorts. Each keeping his poker face…..hoping to decipher any hints that might slip out during the verse of this song. We both knew what we are doing with our words…..we are not going to slip. It is calculated……just enough to put the desire of the hunt into each other…. commanding in our speech just how hard or easy we are going to make it for each other to find this ‘very unseen ruin/ rock art’

    We were talking about a ruin we both knew quite well when the shift took place this time. He said to me he had just been up that way a few days before. Having grown up in that area his whole life he said he had found a ruin that he had not even known existed. He had never heard nor seen any photographs of it before. He decribbed it as pristine. I asked no questions….I just wanted to see how far he was going to take this. But he had already decided….that was going to be all he was going to give. He now changed the subject.

    He mentioned he had received an email from a rock art steward friend of his up in Moab with a photo attached to it. He described the image of the ruin and asked if I had ever come across anything like that. I chuckled and said…..I think that photo is mine. Evidently this steward (who I do know) had emailed him one of my photos asking about its location. In his standard method….my Blanding friend said no more….no questions…just waiting to see what I would say about this ruin.

    So now the rules of engagement were in place….he had one that he knew I he wanted and I had one which had set the spark off in him. But still….the poker faces prevailed on both of us.

    I thought I would make it easy for him and see if he how much he would reciprocate. I said…."you know where ****** canyon is….in there you will find the ruin in that photo that was sent to you” His face still unchanged. Then he said to me ….."you know where those sandstone formations are up near the ruin we were talking about earlier….drive past those about a mile or two and park. Hike for about an hour or two to a box canyon. It is the only ruin I ever HAD to use the ancient steps (moki) to gain access to a ruin. I don’t think anyone ever goes there….I have lived here my whole life and never heard of it before”

    I asked no questions and sort of just acted flip at what he had just told me….but inside my heart was racing and I was picturing in my mind the area he was talking about.

    As the conversation wound down …..neither one of us giving a clue that we were going to pursue what we had both just learned. I walked to the Jeep and as I opened the door….I heard him say “Rick”, I turned towards him, “you must use the Ancient Steps to enter” then he just winked and started across the street into the darkness of the nearby neighborhood. Here, he had not been going to the restaurant after all.

    Immediately getting my maps out that night I plotted the area he had told me about….looked like there is about a half dozen box canyons in the area he spoke of. I knew I would have to set at least three days aside to explore all of them. Because I always search for sites by myself .....there was no hurry…..there never is. I think the anticipation is one of the things I love the most.

    Fast forward to January of 2012. As I am selling my photographs at the Bluff Balloon Festival…..in between customers…there is a slight nudge against my shoulder by someone. I say “excuse me” as look to see who I bumped into. “Hi Rick”….there he was again. “I went up to that canyon that you told me about……I didn’t find it” I told him “You need to go farther in….it is there” With that …he vanished into the crowd.

    Today I was going to set off and start my vigilant search to this ‘unknown’ ruin having set the next three days aside. With the wind and storm coming in and seeing I also have another 3 days next week I decided to postpone the start of this adventure until then….though in my heart this adventure really started for me last April. Instead, I decided to just write the my experience here on the forum hoping some of you will find it interesting.

    I saw a thread started here on the forum by ‘unitahiker’ asking about how some of us find locations and such. I thought that this might give a little insight as to how it usually starts for me. Though I never post ‘trip reports’ This really is the story of a trip in its infancy. Again, I hope you will find it interesting and I will post again when I find this elusive ruin.

    Too be continued……………
     
  2. uintahiker

    uintahiker Adventure Guru

    Messages:
    719
    Nice! And well written. I'd like to know how your search turns out. Funny how the subtle probing happens instead of straight up asking for info.
     
  3. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Saw this on Facebook and commented there. Again, nice write up and I'd like to know how your hunt goes. I'll be down that way the 23-25 of this month.
     
  4. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,585
    Location:
    Utah
    Looking forward to part 2! :)
     
  5. RedDirtDawg

    RedDirtDawg Vagabond

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Years ago I found a petroglyph and it immediately struck me that it might be a 'equinox' site. I never mentioned this to anyone before as it was just a suspicion on my part. Last Sept. at the Autumnal Equinox I did not make it to this site until sunset. With the Vernal Equinox being next week on March 20th I am planning on confirming if this glyph is really an equinox site or not.

    So now I will couple my search for the Ancient Step ruin along with checking this petroglyph site out during that same exploration. I also want to confirm a Wetherill inscription which is rumored to be in a cave not too far from this Ancient Step ruin.

    Should be pretty interesting......just wanted to throw it out that I will be down in Butler Wash/ Comb Ridge next week March 20th, 21st and 22nd ~ if anyone is down there during that time and wants to join me on any of these adventures ......just chime in and let me know...
    Reddirtdawg@gmail.com
     
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  6. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Dang! I would love to join you Rick but I'm going to be down there the 23rd-25th so it looks like I'll just miss you. Would like to hear how your search goes though. I have a petroglyph that I believe is an equinox site located in Upper South Mule Canyon. I have never been to it during/near an equinox though. I might have to check it out while I'm down there.
     
  7. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,585
    Location:
    Utah
    Totally wish I could!
     
  8. RedDirtDawg

    RedDirtDawg Vagabond

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Haven't written the postscript to this story yet......but wanted to post that I did find the Ancient Steps Ruin..... Before I started my hunt....I decided to first visit Nestled Granary again ~

    Nestled Granary ~

    [​IMG]


    Ancient Steps Ruin ~

    [​IMG]
    Ancient Steps Ruin by Red Dirt Dawg, on Flickr
     
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  9. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Very cool Rick! I love the art on that Nestled Granary. I 'm guessing this was the first time that SOS was ever used... Wish I could have met up with you down there but I'm sure the opportunity will present itself another time. Did you happen to get a picture of the steps that lead to the Ancient Steps Ruin?
     
  10. RedDirtDawg

    RedDirtDawg Vagabond

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Thanks Justin ~ I did get some shots (though not too good) of the ancient steps. It is quite a peculiar story how I just happened to stumble upon them. But then again....the whole adventure down there this time was quite peculiar. I think I have enough material to write a book. So it will take me some time to gather all my notes and recall this whole adventure to post here on Backcountrypost.com
     
    ibenick likes this.
  11. Deadeye008

    Deadeye008 Hambone

    Messages:
    744
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Seems like those are the best kinds of places. The ones that we just happen to stumble upon... I re-visited a place this past weekend down there that my buddy and I stumbled upon about 2 yrs ago while we were hiking accros the mesa top to get down into a canyon. The site appears to be a midden with lots and lots of pottery sherds of all varieties, peices of flint, and about 4 well used manos. We also found charcoal and what I believe is the end piece of a wooded beam. There are no cliffs near the site. So we have conclued it was either the site of a pithouse or a mesa top campsite. I'll post some pictures of some of the items when I post a trip report. The site was exactly how we left it 2 yrs ago, not a footprint in site, so I am reasonably certain no one else has stumbled accross it, at least not in the last few years or so...
     
  12. RedDirtDawg

    RedDirtDawg Vagabond

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    Grand Junction, Colorado
    Along with the search for Ancient Steps Ruin.....I was also searching for a rumored Wetherill inscription in the land of old cowboy camps and cave dwellers. Though I did find what might be a Wetherill inscription at this two story dwelling.....it is unsubstantiated as to being authentic......


    [​IMG]
     
  13. Nurrgle

    Nurrgle Feet on the ground, head in the clouds

    Messages:
    217
    Location:
    Boulder Co
    Dude, that pic is gnarly!
     
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