Saturday, November 17, 2012
On Saturday morning I was up and driving towards the Abajo Mountains well before the sun was ready to come up. My destination for the day was Fable Valley. I wanted to squeeze in a quick dayhike before snow would make the roads impassable and I wouldn’t be able to return until the spring. I had heard there was a specific pictograph panel I’ve been searching for hidden in the canyon and I hoped to find it this year.
There were some clouds and storms in the area as the sun came up. I happened to be driving in Indian Creek Canyon at the time and stopped to take a few photos.
Still some nice light as I started up Cottonwood Canyon.
I made a quick stop at this boulder containing some Ute petroglyphs. The last time I was here the light was terrible. This stop made up for it.
Rain or snow in the distance as I drove around the head of Salt Creek Canyon. I hoped these storms would stay away from the roads I was on, since things can get slippery very quickly.
Soon I was driving down a seldom used two-track on my way to the trailhead.
Looking at my maps beforehand, I wasn’t sure if this section of the road was going to be open or if I would have to start hiking from here. The sign answered that question for me, though it didn’t appear that anyone had driven this way for quite a while. Of course I drove the last mile to where the road was closed, even if it was a little rough and washed out in places.
Great views into a nice side-canyon as I hiked along the rim to eventually reach the bottom of Fable Valley.
Once in Fable Valley I hiked to the area where I thought the pictograph panel might be. I didn’t find the panel I was looking for there, but I did find some other rock art and ruins, including this interesting panel that has an outline of a person. That’s something I don’t recall seeing anywhere else before?
There were also your typical concentric circles and reverse handprints.
I spotted this design high above in a small recess. I didn’t notice until I was working on this photo back at home that the design continued on the sandstone face to the left.
I hiked a little further until I spotted the Fortress Ruin high above. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get up to it, but I managed to find the way.
A closer look at the outer wall.
There were a couple round rooms to the left of the main wall.
A large rectangular room that was part of the outer wall had a nice T-shaped doorway.
This rectangular room also had a few very large roof beams still intact, even though the roof was long gone.
As I was exploring the ruins in this large alcove, I couldn’t help but notice a dripping sound coming from the back. When I went to investigate I found a small dripping spring next to a black reverse handprint. I see why this alcove was important to these people.
Before leaving The Fortress, I checked out a few other small ruins on the ledge nearby.
Unfortunately the days are short at this time of the year, so I needed to start thinking about hiking back out. I continued my search for the pictograph panel I was looking for on my way back, but didn’t end up finding it. I’m sure if I had a few more hours to explore I might have had better luck, so I guess I’ll be returning in the spring when the roads are open again. I’m thinking an overnight backpacking trip would be a good idea.
On my drive back out I was lucky enough that none of the little storms in the area dumped any snow or rain, but the warmer daytime temperatures had melted some snow that was in the shaded parts of the road and made things a bit muddy and slippery in places, so I had to drive back a little slower and more carefully than I would have liked. At least I was treated to some great spotlighting on my drive back.