I was looking for an easy outing to take on Saturday, and after having discussed Nine Mile Canyon a bit with my hiking partners from the previous weekend, I decided to give that a shot. I’ve been through Nine Mile a few times–once I followed an online guide that I printed out which tells where a lot of roadside rock art is–but have never really explored the canyon. One petroglyph in particular that I’ve wanted for years to find is pictured on page 204 of Tom McCourt’s book, “The Split Sky,” and that was my primary goal for this day. While driving along the canyon bottom I kept spotting rock art from the road, and it was difficult to restrain myself from approaching it for a closer look. At my first planned stop I went for a short hike hoping to find the Owl Panel. I hadn’t researched it thoroughly enough, though, and ended up finding some other petroglyphs where I was hoping to find the owl petroglyphs.
My next stop was the important one. I was pretty confident that I’d located the page 204 petroglyph on the map. I used Google Earth to match up features in the photo and came up with a probable location. Despite my relative certainty, I was still anxious as I scrambled up to the spot where I hoped to find the rock art. I was so excited when I spotted the petroglyphs that I made a fist-pump gesture, even though only my dogs were around to share in the excitement. 🙂 The trip would have been worthwhile even if this was the only photo I’d taken:
Next I drove a short distance up Gate Canyon to replace my geocache there near a natural arch. The container had disintegrated after nearly seven years of being exposed to the elements. Just during the short drive in Gate Canyon I saw a lot of pioneer inscriptions from the late-1800s, plus one petroglyph panel that looked relatively recent.
After returning to Nine Mile Canyon I stopped at some petroglyphs that weren’t on my to-do list for this trip, but they were interesting enough to stop and hike up to. There were some long-necked sheep, a two-headed sheep, a five-legged sheep, and a couple of canine figures.
I drove up Dry Canyon to find a panel that I’d seen a photo of on the internet. I had my estimated coordinates in my GPS and when I approached that area I saw some great petroglyphs there. It wasn’t until after returning home and looking at the online photo that I realized I had, once again, found a different set of petroglyphs than those I was looking for.
I finished the day with a stop at the Big Buffalo and Pregnant Buffalo panels, plus a pair of nearby pit houses that were visible in Google Earth. The Big Buffalo is well-known (with a sign at the road pointing the way) and this was the first place I encountered people. It appeared none of them knew about all the other nearby rock art because they all visited the Big Buffalo and then returned to their vehicles.
While driving back home I had to focus on NOT looking for more rock art. During the drive in I had stopped on the road and created about 15 waypoints in the GPS adjacent to sites I’d noticed and wanted to return to, but if I stopped at all of them on this trip it would have taken me another day or two to get home. 🙂 Since returning home I think I’ve figured out where I went wrong with the Owl Panel’s location, and I’ve identified a few other sites that I’d like to locate. I have plenty of reasons to return to Nine Mile Canyon, which I’m sure I’ll do soon and frequently.