Oct 23 : Moon House Ruins

Oct 23 : Moon House Ruins

I’m not sure if I wrote about hurting my back at Cathedral Valley Campground. I’m not sure how I did it, but what I did know is that driving was painful, moving was painful, and I was a bit scared. I got to the Valley floor and took three ibuprofens and hoped I wouldn’t need the Flexeril in my med kit. By the time I got to Goblin Valley Campground, the ibuprofens had done their job, and while I still hurt, at least I could move. Getting the camper popped up was strenuous and a little painful, but once I got set up, I rested briefly, stretched, and took Argos for a mile + walk. That all helped a bunch. I kept stretching, but the ache came and went. At Valley of the Gods, Vicky had an ice pack, so I iced one evening.

The morning we were scheduled to go to Moon House Ruins I was concerned that my backache would make that impossible for me. I went anyway, but brought a book just in case we got there and the pain was too much for hiking.

Not everyone from the group went on this hike. Bob, Bill, and I were in Bob’s Tundra, and Tom & Mary-Anne followed in their truck.

We stopped at the Kane Gulch Ranger Station to pick up our permits. This location only allows 20 people per day in order to keep the erosion down.


Bob, Bill, and I arrived at the location we thought was correct, but with no signs, we weren’t certain. Since Tom and Mary-Anne hadn’t yet arrived on the road, we stopped to double-check our route. Bob looked at his maps.


And Bill checked out the informational postings.


We confirmed this was the correct road to turn down and when Tom and Mary-Anne arrived, they parked in the little ‘parking lot’ and we all went down this often topsy-turvy road to the trail head.


Bob loaned me a pair of walking sticks, and after I got used to using them, I loved having them handy! I never did stop feeling rather bug-like – so many legs!

The path to the ruins required clambering and butt-sliding, and cairn-following. The beginning looked auspicious. The slickrock isn’t difficult to traverse, and my back had given me some twinges, but wasn’t bothering me.


Hang on. We’re going all the way down into there? Eep.


We started our descent.


I wish I’d gotten a better picture of this spot. Bob alerted us that he’d read about this spot – a tricky little cliff where we had to throw ourselves at the ground and miss.  There is a wobbly pile of rocks we lower ourselves down towards, feet gain balance, and step down. The mantis-legs wouldn’t help at all in this situation, so I handed them down.


It wasn’t as difficult as we all thought, but getting back up proved to require some scrambling and at least one butt-support.

That middle section is where we were headed. First we had to go down, then back up.


Tom made it to the bottom ahead of me, scouting the path amongst the boulders. See that rock sticking up on the left into the sky? That’s where we were going.


The formations are beautiful!


We stopped for a little rest at the bottom, and I think Mary-Anne had the same thoughts as I did. “We have to go up there?!”


We met this little guy.


and stopped for lunch.


I never really understood the fascination with natural arches and bridges. Sure, they are neat, and erosion does cool stuff with rock but we seem to have more of an enthrallment than just “neat.” When I was a kid living in the woods, I’d sometimes come across a natural ring of trees. There’d be a clearing in the middle and I’d imagine that fairies danced there under the night skies. Perhaps these arches imagine a world beyond, a step-through into another dimension or into an alternate reality. The magic of the doorway, which leads to a whole different room and a whole different view. Is what I think I see under the archway actually what I will encounter if I walk through?


Mary-Anne discovers one of the tight spots on the route.


We made it!



The view is spectacular as well, although I don’t think my photo captures the depth of the canyon.


We doffed our legs and packs, and set to exploring the ruins.



What did these people do? What were the rooms for, specifically? These are our houses in a few hundred years, future people sifting through our detritus and daily remnants piecing together how we spent our time during our short while on this planet.



The hike back was easier since we now knew the way and what to expect. My back didn’t bother me once!

The ruins are very interesting with their separate rooms and very protected location up high in the wall, but the hike to get there is even better. For those of us with a vertigo enhancement, it initially appears daunting. But, like with most things, taken one step at a time, and paying attention to the numerous cairns instead of the downward slope, it turned into one of the most enjoyable adventures on this journey.

Perhaps that’s what I learned on this trip: to take one step at a time, not to give credence to the future unknowns, and watch for cairns – the markers of where others have gone and suggested a reasonable path.

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