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Mule Canyon

The Maze and the Mesa | Day 8
Saturday, April 16, 2011

On Saturday we woke up again to yet another cold morning, but thankfully not quite as cold as the previous day. Originally we were planning on staying in our current campsite for the last night, but at the last minute we changed our plans and decided to move to Comb Wash for the last night. We packed up camp and headed over to Comb Wash and then setup camp again. Once camp was set, we headed over to Mule Canyon and were hoping to take a nice leisurely stroll up the canyon for an easy day of exploring…but as I stated before, is seems Jared and I don’t quite know the meaning of an ‘easy day’ because by the time we reached the Jeep again we had hiked over 8.5 miles round trip with a lot of climbing up to ruins along the way.

Of course we visited the House on Fire (Flaming Roof) ruins, and then we continued up the canyon a few more miles searching for other ruins and rock art as we went. I know we missed some of them, probably because we turned around too soon, so I’m sure I’ll be heading back again sometime in the future.

The well-known House on Fire Ruins.

Flaming Roof by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Curved Flames by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

An overview of the House on Fire ruins.

House on Fire Overview by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The next set of ruins we found up the canyon from House on Fire.

Mule Canyon Wall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared and the view up Mule Canyon.

Mule Canyon by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A well-preserved set of ruins further up.

High Ruins Overview by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at the ruins since we didn’t even try to find a way up to them since there was no obvious route.

High Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When we reached the spot in the canyon we turned around at, I stopped to rest in the shade of this tree and took this photo as I lay on the cool sandstone.

Resting Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

On our way back down Mule Canyon we stopped and climbed up to one more site we had skipped on the way up. I’m glad we did, since there turned out to be some cool rock art here too.

The top of the alcove glows bright orange in the background with the large concentric circles in the foreground.

Circles and Stripes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here we found another painted wall that used to be in the back of a structure. There are plenty of petroglyphs located above the paint, too.

Paint and Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We were unable to climb up to these ruins located on a ledge above us.

Overgrown by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jared checking out a small granary.

Jared and the Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The same granary as above, in the colorful alcove.

Colorful Alcove by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was still plenty of time left in the day when we reached the trailhead again so we headed up the Dog Tanks Road to visit the petroglyphs on Walnut Knob.

Looking back at Comb Ridge from Walnut Knob where UT-95 cuts through.

Through the Comb by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

One of the two large panels of petroglyphs found on Walnut Knob.

Walnut Knob Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at the panel. Probably a Ute panel since there are horseback riders in the scene.

Hunting Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s the other larger panel.

The Sheep and the Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look.

The Hunter and the Shield by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Closeup of the shield figure.

Walnut Shield Figure by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Afterwards we headed to Blanding for some dinner at the Homestead Steak House where I had a burger and some of their homemade biscuits. After our meal we headed to the Mule Canyon Towers to await the sunset and the stars that night. Before it got too dark out Jared showed me some petroglyphs he had found the last time he explored this site.

A small structure found near the Mule Canyon Towers.

Cave Towers Granary by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The moon rising over the rim of Mule Canyon as we explore below.

Moon Over the Rim by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The ‘Hunt Scene’ petroglyph panel that Jared showed me.

Mule Canyon Hunt by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at some of the figures in the panel, including a duck-headed man.

Duck Head & Snakes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looks like it was a successful hunt!

The Kill by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Lower Mule Canyon as the sun sets.

Lower Mule Canyon by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once it was dark enough we both tried out some night shots.

When I setup this shot, my original goal was to get some star trails to show up through the window as well as around the tower. Unfortunately, some clouds blew through the shot as I was taking it, so that didn’t work out as I had planned this time. I do like the way the clouds look in this shot, though. The lighting on the tower is from the almost-full moon behind the camera. I didn’t have to add any additional light.

Mule Tower Star Trails by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A very short time-lapse video I made of the separate shots used to make the photo above. You can see the clouds blowing through the scene and also the moonlight on the tower changing.

Before we left, Jared had the idea for this shot and took one. I liked the idea and took a quick shot with the Big Dipper above the Mule Canyon Tower.

Big Dipper Tower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When we were done, it was back to our camp in Comb Wash for our last night of the trip.

>> Mule Canyon Photo Gallery

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