Getting Old in Grand Gulch
Grand Gulch drains a large area of Cedar Mesa in Southern Utah and earns its name from its immense size and deep history. Anasazi inhabited Cedar Mesa roughly 1,000 years ago and thrived throughout the Four Corners area of the desert southwest. They farmed corn and built extremely defensive shelters for storage of their crops. Dwellings were also built in a similar defensive fashion in sunny, south facing alcoves. Thus, the nickname “Cliff Dwellers”.
I’ve walked many canyons in Utah and Grand Gulch is special. The sandstone formations are at a perfect height and orientation to capture the warm, winter sun. During the summer, Cedar Mesa remains cooler than the surrounding desert at an elevation of 7,000 feet. There’s water and endless sage flats with deep canyons in all directions. Nowhere else in Utah does this come together so perfectly. You’d have to go to Cedar Mesa National Park in Colorado to find similar geography.
Grand Gulch has been on my mind for a backpacking trip for some time. I envisioned walking through this canyon and exploring with my eyes and feet. My chance to do just this came up so I spent my 35th birthday drinking coffee near a 1,000 year old house. As I walked and explored, I could feel time yet I carried no watch. I could feel centuries and millenniums from the random structures of the recent past to the smooth walls and massive alcoves of millenniums.
Photography wise this place was spectacular in all directions. The cottonwoods were perfectly gold and I experienced a new light as a result. Direct afternoon light bounces off the canyon walls and has a red hue. This is then bounced around in all the yellow leaves still clinging to the cottonwoods. It makes for intense and vivid images, just my liking:)
Enjoy the images and cheers to another year of adventures!