Thursday, July 14, 2016

CW: Red Cliffs and Return

October 9th was the last day of our Country Walkers trip to Bryce and Zion Canyons. The group threw its luggage into the two vans and we drove down the street for a sunrise breakfast.
Then we barreled out of Springdale and drove to the Red Cliffs Campground, our parking area for exploring a small corner of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

It was already warm, and growing hotter in the bright sunshine. Our first walk was up the short Silver Reef Trail to see dinosaur tracks.
To quote from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) web page:
Located in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, within the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, this dinosaur track site features 17 well-preserved tracks. Although it is impossible to know exactly which dinosaurs made these footprints, tracks are tied to a general group of dinosaurs based on shape, size, and arrangement of toe pads. These tracks have been identified as GrallatorKayentapus, and Eubrontes trackswhich paleontologists suggest were made by bipedal meat-eating theropods during the Jurassic Period.
A sign marked the spot (click on the image to enlarge).
We inspected the group of tracks, and our guides Eric and Heather explained the geological sequences that lead to their preservation.
The tracks were easier to see now rather than later because the sun was still low enough to cast shadows.
Here's a closeup of a track.
This was the view from the end of the Silver Reef trail, looking towards the ancient Puebloan archaeological site.
We would hike back down into the draw, then across and up to the next short ridge. We could see the site through our binoculars.
Stone-and-wood fences protect the key architectural elements of the site. It was excavated between 1977 and 1979 by BLM archaeologists.
There were items to discover lying on the ground outside the fences; I spotted a small piece of worked flint, showed it to Eric, and then put it back.

There was a sign about the many-layered occupation of this site over the centuries. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)
Another was about the effort involved in making a living here, the success of which varied with the climate.
This was the view back to the Silver Reef trail and the Red Cliffs. It doesn't look livable today, does it?
We worked our way back to the vans, visiting another dinosaur track site, and drove the remaining few miles into St. George. There, after parking next to a patchwork horse,
we had our farewell luncheon. Towards the end of the meal Eric and Heather presented each of us, in turn, with a card they felt represented us. Eric has one in his hand in this photo.
Joan's was a wildflower. (I can't find mine!)

Our group continued on to Las Vegas. Some went directly to the airport, and some, including Joan and me, stayed overnight at the Hyatt for a flight in the morning. Joan and I ate that evening at an Indian restaurant across the street, Origin India, which was very good.

Our return flight the next day was with Southwest, the only carrier to fly direct from Las Vegas to Columbus. It was our first time with Southwest, and it worked well. It was a pleasant contrast to American, which had problems on both our Columbus-Dallas and Phoenix-Las Vegas legs.

Joan and I greatly enjoyed our Country Walkers back-to-back trips. It's a hectic pace, but that's how the company manages to show you so much in a six-day, five-night program. They do it well.