Just south of the border of Utah and Arizona lies this petroglyph. Not too far from some high voltage powerlines, but alone in the desert.
No trail or cairns take you here. A small two track road, which I foolishly drove my old van down, passes by a few hundred feet away. This road lacked any tire tracks, no vehicles had passed since whenever the previous rain fell.
Maybe most people think there is just nothing to see out here. But things are out here. The entire desert across the southwest is strewn with memories of the ancestors of people alive today.
These lands need to be protected and remembered.
Next month on April 21, I will be participating in an Earth Day Market in Salt Lake City with Wild Earth to raise funds for the Friends of Cedar MesaVisitor Center. Their mission is to educate people how to visit the land around Cedar Mesa with respect. They strive to preserve the memories encased in the precious landscape of the Bears Ears
Human Memories Across a Landscape
This is an ancient petroglyph referred to as a waterglyph, they are estimated to be at least 1000 years old and found along the Utah/Arizona border.
This was my third attempt at this photo. I first had the idea about a year and a half ago when I was shown a picture of this glyph. So August a year I loaded up my van and headed down the long and bumpy road up the desert mesa, only to turn around due to the roughness of the road. My 30 year old vehicle was reminding me of it’s age and the remoteness…
A year later in July I returned with only to have the forecast change to torrential downpour!Not good for night photography and especially terrible when solo in the desert miles from a paved road without phone service… so I spent the night in the rain the drive home.
So this time I returned with my mountain bike. I discovered a shorter route up a MUCH rougher road. Loaded down with camera and camping gear I biked the 7 miles to the cliff’s edge.
After sunset the winds picked up, the clouds rolled in and the rain fell. I cowered in my bivy sac and sleeping bag for about 45 minutes as the rain pelted and the wind ripped branches from the surrounding pinyon.
When the wind stopped I crawled out and the sky cleared, allowing me about 1 hour to shoot with the light from the crescent moon.
This past weekend I visited this petroglyph, known as a waterglyph, along the Utah/Arizona border.
The nigh was frigid and the landscape was desolate. I didn’t see another living soul the entire time. However, it seemed as if at one time this was an important place, a place where things occurred.
The petroglyph points straight east to where the sun would rise and for me the rising moon, as seen sitting in the core of the milky way.
Places like this need to be kept as the are, far from city lights, and the noise of roads. We need places like this that allow us to have one foot in this world and one foot in the other.
This is my first photo in this style of this year. Hopefully more will follow. However, It’s a challenge to do many in this theme.
Driving, finding the sites… Then trying to photograph the site in a way that I can be sure not to damage it. This usually involves predicting composition in the daylight, setting up the camera and leaving everything in place until the appropriate time.
Sometimes I’ll program the camera to take photographs at a specific time, especially if I don’t feel comfortable or if it seem disrespectful to be bumbling around at night. Other times I’ll return at a certain hour and take the photo.
Usually these photos consume an entire weekend and I usually come away with a single image, sometimes two.