Grand Gulch lies in the new Bears Ears National Monument. This and many other national monuments, including three along the PCT, are now under threat. We wanted to continue writing about our hike so more people can appreciate the archaeological significance and natural beauty of this special place.
Rain fell overnight and into the morning of our third day in the canyon. A cliff overhung Split Level Ruin, keeping it dry. We ate our breakfast up near the ruins and explored the area a bit more as we waited for the rain to calm down.
Split Level Ruin
Hundreds of Ancestral Pueblo pottery shards were scattered on the ground. We feasted our eyes but didn’t touch anything.
The creek had developed a nice flow from the night’s precipitation. The rain eased as we walked, but we still became soaked as we brushed against wet vegetation. On the positive side, all the wet sagebrush smelled fantastic!
This overhang at Shelf Ruin provided a nice dry rest stop.
Hiking in Grand Gulch
We took a side trip up Sheik’s Canyon to see the Green Mask Ruin
The alcove at Green Mask Spring was full of rock art. The images are thought to depict plants, rakes, and insects.
We liked these pointillist human figures, whose faces and elaborate headdresses have faded over time. A variety of hand prints are visible to the right.
These thick spirals were formed from mud.
This powerful pictograph is the “Green Mask” for which the site is named. None of the other drawings we saw in Grand Gulch contained green pigment.
Claret Cup cactus blooms were brilliant in late April
There are no trail markers, so bring your map, compass, and GPS, and know how to use them.
The path was very overgrown in some sections. At times it petered out completely, in which case we had to backtrack and find another route through the canyon. Right after Anna took this picture, a branch ripped a big hole in Chris’s hat, which had served him well for thousands of miles.
We enjoyed this amazing campsite at the intersection of Grand Gulch and Bullet Canyon
We filtered water, cooked a simple meal, and watched the sunset. As we fell asleep, only the occasional bird call broke the silence. We need to protect and preserve places like this, where it’s still possible to disconnect from the constant distractions of the modern world and reconnect with ancient ways of life.