Sunday, April 5, 2009

Searching for 1000-year-old artists

We pull off the road on Hwy 12 at the Escalante River in search of a mystery:  the “A Hundred Hands” pictograph. Directions in the guide book are simple, yet vague. I trek up a cliff, but truly cannot find any landmarks to guide me. We debate. Spend time looking for this enigma, or get going to Arches National Park? We decide to go for it.  Together, we follow the directions: hike pass the fenced-off house, up the first cliff, and follow faint rails and rock cairns along the bench.  We traverse the cliff, this way and that. Up and down, and around the corner of a rich, rocky mountain.  It's beautiful at the top. Red-blooming cacti. Orange, rusty rounded buttes and peaks, twisted and gnarled with erosion and time.  We stare. Focus. Re-focus. Searching the red rock for a 1000-year-old legacy. Anasazi artists leaving their mark of hundred white hands. Painted on the surface across the river, high above.  It becomes an obsession. And we are relentless. We start to hallucinate; any mark on the stone becomes the pictograph we seek. But after a few hours, we realize the hands were not meant to reveal themselves today (at least without binoculars!) But what we found was a gorgeous, untouched path, high above rushing water under a blue, blue sky. I wonder how many hands have passed through here over the years. The hands of ancient man and all that has come forward since. We leave no trace, and I am happy about the journey.  The journey into wild lands that still remain on this scarred earth. For two roads diverged in a canyon, and we took the one less traveled by. And one hundred hands or not, it has made all the difference. 

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