Before the Spanish conquistador Coronado lead his soldiers into the southwest of what is now the United States. Before Columbus sailed for the New World. Before the Anasazi built the huge multistory structures in the canyons of the western desert, there were groups of peaceful people living here in the mountains and deserts of central Utah. Formerly referred to as the “Fremont” now more correctly known as “ Ancestral Puebloan” These people lived in pit houses, and in what we call “overhangs” or “alcoves” Great arched shallow caves which face the south thereby catching the suns warmth. They farmed, raising the three sisters - corn, squash and beans. They hunted deer and other game. Their tools were made from the flint-like chert stone found here – atlatl spear points, and knife blades. They built with timber and mortar. All that is left is what is made of stone, the land, and the views. We went to experience all three.
I didn’t know the area we were going to this week, but my fellow guide Jack, knew it well. It is an area on the east side of Boulder Mountain. Several creeks run into this area. It is below the cold of the mountain, and above the heat of the desert. It’s where a lot of ancient people liked to live.
We started the adventure by camping at the head of Sulfur creek canyon. There had been a lot of rain, and camping spots were not plentiful. In fact I don’t believe we had a 24 hour period this week without rain. We found a spot at last, and as we looked around the area, found stone circles, remnants of ancient homes. There were also two shallow overhangs that gave shelter from the rain. Some of us slept in those. The hike the next day was about 6 miles on the map. Having not been there, I didn’t appreciate until later how many turns and twists the canyon had that were not shown on the map. By the time we reached our destination by the side of Pleasant creek, we were absolutely beat. The hike had kicked our butts, and that doesn’t happen all that often to me. About 15 minutes before reaching our camp site, tempers were flaring, and conflict began. After dinner and a warm fire, issues were processed, and everyone was happy again. This was a pattern for the rest of the week.
It wasn’t comfortable.
It wasn’t really fun.
It really brought out the issues that each client very much needed to face, and deal with.
It was very good.
We found many flakes of chert. We found quite a few broken stone knives. We found many broken spear and arrow heads, and Jack found some whole, unbroken arrow heads. All of these we left on the land where we found them. We toured the alcoves where the ancient people lived. We looked at and felt with our hands the grinding stones they used for preparing corn. We found pieces of ancient corn cobs. We saw the petroglyph writing they left in the dark patina coated sandstone walls.
One day as we climbed up out of a canyon, within a mile of our destination and without any warning, lightening struck overhead. It was closer than I have ever felt it before, and closer than I ever want to feel it again. After picking myself up from the ground where I dove during the flash. I yelled out to the young men to run to medium sized trees, and crouch under them, with lots of space between each other. I have never seen our clients comply with a request so quickly, and without discussion. Backpacks were dropped right where they had been standing, and they literally ran to do as I’d asked. A few more cracks of lightening, and the rain came down in a deluge that lasted about 20 minutes during which time we kept in contact by voice. We were soaked, we were cold, we were shook up, and we were alive. Some of our clients got pretty cranky after that, (nothing new for the week), some got shaken into good moods, and one young man said he felt as if his life had been taken and handed back to him.
It was an emotionally charged, and trying week. So much good came out of it. So much progress was made, and so many breakthroughs for these amazing young men.
We ended the week as a much stronger and coherent group. With deep respect and understanding of each other.
I want to thank you parents again for the privilege of working with your sons. They are becoming good men.
PS. The clients named this adventure.