This series, Notes from the Trail, focuses on thoughts and events that happen with the interactions in nature.
Monday May 24, 2010
I have come to War Bluff. It is an area that lies hidden amongst the greenery of the coming summer. I am in a state of alertness. My ears are pricked scanning for all sounds. My eyes are opened wide attempting to track any movement. This place is alive!
The forest reverberates with the cackle and calls of birds. An unearthly hooting call resides near a ranch at the trail head. Clouds have rolled in and claps of thunder can be heard off to the east. Time, you can feel here. A time when Native Americans worked and lived. They have left signs of that life.
A stone wall is why I have come today. My mind races with the thought that someone is watching me, as I climb a well-worn path 1/3 mile from the trailhead. The bluff appears suddenly and a sense of awe comes over me. I follow a faint trail leading to the left and soon see rocks organized in an unnatural way. The scattered remains of the wall lie tumbled to the south. Time and man have taken their toll, but it can still be clearly seen.
According to the website http://www.caa-archeology.org/~caamicp/eastside/stonef.html:
The stone wall is about 100 feet long and about 50 feet wide. The wall fences in about two or more acres of forest.
I follow a path through the wall and photograph different angles never truly capturing its uniqueness. I explore the area behind the wall. Wild roses are blooming in a clearing. I stop to examine the scene and my camera clicks away. Near the edge of the bluff I find gaping cracks. I gaze downwards and determine that I must circle back towards the wall then down the bluff to explore these areas.
As I head back I find a side trail on top. The trail winds its way to a vantage point that looks out over forested rolling hills. I stop and decide this is an excellent place for a snack. As I am lost in thought, the sun starts to poke through the clouds, changing the mood of the area. The feeling of being watched dissipates as the rays of sun opens the forest.
I make my way down and explore the cracks that I saw from above. I enter a gap and am immediately transformed back to Utah. A slot-canyon like area recedes into the bluff. Light filters in from above giving the walls a reddish tint. Thoughts of snakes and bobcats encourage me to take my time exploring. People have been here before, there graffiti is etched in the rock. A short ways down a fork appears. The left fork climbs steeply for about 25 feet then ends. The right fork continues 15 feet then makes a sharp turn and dead ends in another 20 feet. The total length is probably less than 100 feet, but I have not come across anything quite like it in the Shawnee Hills.
I come back into full light as I exit the gap and make my way back towards my vehicle thankful that I explored War Bluff.
Some Notes about getting to War Bluff
First and foremost you will need a high clearance vehicle. Thia area is in the Shawnee National Forest and is just north of Golconda on Highway 146. Turn left on Bushwack Rd. This road is crisscrossed by creeks and can become deeply rutted after rains. The War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is, also, on this road. The trail-head for War Bluff is about a mile beyond the sanctuary and is on the left up a very steep incline with little room for error and can be difficult without a 4 wheel drive. A ranch is on the right side of the road. As stated before absolutely do not try to get here with a regular passenger car.
Disclaimer: The author and Shawnee Hills Outdoors disclaim any liability or loss incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application on any information contained in this blog. Please check ranger stations and park superintendents for latest information regarding these areas.
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Click on the red tab to put in your address to get directions to the trail head. The location of the trail head not exact, but good enough to get you there. High-Clearance Vehicles Only!