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 Cascade Bill (William Mooseker) | Home > Backpacking Trips > 2012-2019 Trips > 2017 Grand Gulch, UT > 
2017 Grand Gulch - Day 2
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Grand Gulch 2017
Day 2 - May 23

Pollys Canyon to Big Pouroff

Slide Ruin
Fortress Ruin
Railroad Panel

Exploring the Fortress Ruin

We didn't go as far as we planned on Day 2 because of the water situation and the heat. In 2000, we hiked from Pollys Canyon to the Bannister Ruin in one day, but only made it to the Big Pouroff on this trip. However, the more leisurely pace allowed more time for exploration and sidetrips

What a day it was. Many ruins to see and explore, including the fantastic Fortress Ruin. Also amazing was the Railroad Panel, which we had missed in 2000.

Note photo takers are given in the titles under the thumbnails: Bill (bm), Mike (ms), Nick M. (nm), Nick T. (nt)

Kickass Trekkers on this trip were: Bill Mooseker, Will Stong, Mike Stong, Nick McMahan, Nick Tuggle

The descriptions under the photo thumbnails in the album sometimes contain links to maps or additional information. These are identified by "Blue” text for links. I've also inserted links to Google Maps to show where certain photos in the album were taken or to locate features shown in the photos. Click on the link, close the sidebar, and choose satellite view. Basically, you can then zoom in and out using the mouse wheel or drag the map by clicking and holding.

For panoramic photos, I would recommend clicking on the thumbnail photo to enlarge. View at original size for most detail. The thumbnails do not do justice to petroglyphs and pictographs, so I would recommend enlarging them as well. Please take the time to view the many videos to better experience what it was like to be there.

Troop 24 Kickass Trekkers Backpacking Trip
-Cascade Bill Mooseker

Date(s): May 23, 2017. Album by Cascade Bill. 1 - 206 of 206 Total. 0 Visits.
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To get the plugin just Google "videolan" or CLICK HERE FOR DOWNLOAD for Windows. There is a MAC version as well. Disable the Quicktime plugin if you use Videolan. To view fullscreen videos click the icon on the top right of the video when it starts playing.

If you want to save photos to your computer, click the box under the thumbnails of the photos you want to download. Then click the "Download" button at the top of the album. Pick the size you'd like to download (Original is best)and the photos will be downloaded to a folder of your choice.

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After having breakfast we broke our camp down and packed up everything to be ready to go.  We then set out on a day hike to look for ruins and art panels.

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Mike & Will on our day hike.

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05-23 08-51a bm.mp4
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Setting out on our day hike.

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05-23 09-01 ws.mp4
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Climbing up to the Slide Ruin.

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Exploring a small ruin complex that we visited on our 2000 and 2002 hikes.

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Another view

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05-23 09-03b bm.mp4
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Exploring the ruins.

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close up of wall construction - you can see where fingers have pressed the mud into the cracks between the rocks.

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Bill and Will

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Granary is in very good condition - notice the "bowed" shape of the door, which is fairly common for these structures.

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Another view.  One addition that was not there at our previous visits is this notice to not climb into the ruins.

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Will inspecting the granary.

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Mike at the granary.

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Fingerprints in the mortar.

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The complex lies behind a rock slab that split off from the cliff above the alcove.

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View of destroyed room - one thing that I don't understand is that there is a sharp delineation between the lower part of the wall and where it has been blackened above.  This is pretty common: Sheiks Canyon; Inside kiva at Slickhorn Canyon.

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Clay fragment that was on the roof - mud mortar was applied to branches to form a seal, leaving outlines of them in the fragment.

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Series of hand prints applied to the inside of the fallen slab.

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Another view - jet contrails juxtaposed to 800 year old hand prints.

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Another set of hand prints - this time in white stripes.

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faint hand print.

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"cowboy" signature from the 1890's when these canyons were first explored.  When I first saw this in 2000, I was pissed off that anyone would put graffiti here then I realized that the signature was about 100 years older than I thought it was!

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Another "cowboy" signature.

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One more - hard to read but amazing that charcoal signature has lasted this long.

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Nick & Will.

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Video showing the various ruins and ancient art of the Slide Ruin.

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Looking at the ruin complex from outside - you can see the rockfall from here.

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Another view.

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View from the alcove.

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Nick T.

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Looking back into the complex from a hole between the rockfall and the back wall of the alcove.

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View of face of the rockfall - if you enlarge you will see faint petroglyphs that must be much older than the ruins behind.

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Ancient Petroglyph figure.

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Another view of rock face.

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Another petroglyph figure incised into the rock.

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Another one.

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Symbols as well.

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Another cross symbol.

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Close up.

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These metate's for grinding grain are located by the rockfall.

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Exploring the ledge.

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I think these are fossils embedded in the rock - tubes that have weathered out.

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Fossilized tubes of ancient worms?

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Don't get too close!

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Fisheye view of nasty cactus.

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Fisheye view of prickly pear cactus.

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Panoramic view.

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Bill heading back to camp.

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Another view.

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Looking back at Nick T.

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Nick M & Nick T

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The Nicks

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Will finds and old tin can - how old?

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Inscription on can.

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Hand print panel found by the Nicks.

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More hand prints.

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Cowboy signature.

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Another view.

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Mouth of Polly's Canyon - this is where we got our water last year (2016) - bone dry as compared to last year as shown here

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This was our water source (looking back toward our camp.  It was a long haul carrying two 5 gal jugs back to camp.

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Mike documenting our water source for camp 1.

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05-23 10-11 pollys island ms.mp4
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Mike describing our water source for camp 1 at Polly's canyon.

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Unusual formations at canyon rim opposite SW end of Polly's Island.

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Southwest end of Polly's Island.

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05-23 10-31 gg ms.mp4
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Bend in the canyon located HERE.

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05-23 10-47 ms.mp4
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Mike's video of walk-up to the Fortress Ruin Complex.

Back in 2000, the only name for these ruins that I found was the "Grand Hotel".  In 2017 there are no references to "Grand Hotel" at all.  Now it seems that this ruin is called either the "Fortress" ruin (as you can plainly see from the following photos) or as the "Wrong-Side" ruin, because it is one of the few, if not the only ruin,on the left side (looking down canyon).

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View of the Fortress Ruin complex - to the left on the lower ledge is a large granary.  Several ruins above.

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The main part of the Fortress Ruins (this is to the right of the previous photo).

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Another view.

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Looking back toward the wash.

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05-23 11-20 ws.mp4
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Will's video of the approach to the Fortress Ruin complex.

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Video of the large granary on the lower ledge.

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Will on the lower ledge.

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05-23 10-53a ms.mp4
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Mike's video showing the climb up to the ruins.

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Looking back to the wash.

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05-23 10-58a ms.mp4
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Mike looks for a way into the "Fortress".

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05-23 11-04a ms.mp4
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Mike finds a way into the ruin complex and explores them.

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05-23 11-15 ms ws.mp4
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Will overcomes his fear of heights and finds a way into the complex.

"Arrow" slots and formidable wall is why it's called the "Fortress" ruin.

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View of Hoodoos at canyon rim.

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Close up of Hoodoos.

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05-23 11-22 nm.mp4
The Nick's were late arrivals at the complex - here is Nick M's video of the lower granary.

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Nick M. hiking up to the ruins.

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This wall has an unusual way of decorating not seen in other ruins - small white stones are embedded in the mud mortar. Note the Circular patterns.

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Close up of the patterns of the stones embedded in the clay.

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Showing the scale of the patterns.
This could possibly represent the Constellation Corona Borealis which lies overhead during May. It contains 7 predominant stars as recorded in this era.

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The holes in this wall are just above the floor level on the opposite side.  They could possibly be for ventilation.

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Another section of the wall.

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Bill taking a break.

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05-23 11-34 ws.mp4
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Will's video of the wall with the patterns on it as well as an inside view of the ruin behind the wall.

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Mike and Will - It looks like there used to be a wall extending along the ledge in front of Mike. Our relatively easy access would not have been possible.  I guess it really was a fortress.

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Will & Mike.

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Will at upper end of the "Fortress" section of the ruin. Note that this wall does not have the pebbles inserted into mud decoration of the previous photos.

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Another view.

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Close up of the wall construction.

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View of the "Fortress".  The holes here are also close to the floor level and would not be openings to fire arrows through.

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Close up of the "Fortress" wall and it's openings.

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View of the small room in back of the decorated wall.  Mike and Nick in the background.  From the amount of rubble here, it would appear that there was a substantial wall extending out from the stub shown here.

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Another view.

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Close up of the door to the small room - note the inset frame.

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View of the interior of the small room.

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Just beyond the small room is the remains of a kiva. There is also another small ruin further down the ledge - we can see Will inspecting it.

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Showing the interior of the kiva - note the construction using large poles for the beams then layers of branches of diminishing size laid in a grid pattern.

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View showing the floor and what may be the "vent" for allowing smoke to escape.

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The roof construction - clay mud over small branches.  Not much left today. Note that one log has fallen in since our trip in 2000

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Another view of the floor - enlarge photo to see details.  There appears to be a rectangular "frame" setback in the wall.

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Closer view of the roof construction.

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Another view - note rectangular opening in side wall.

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Cliff side view.

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View of inner side and the little bit of roof that remains

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Another view of the kiva's roof construction.

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05-23 11-09a ms.mp4
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Mike explores the further ruin and postulates on the meaning of a pattern on the door of the ruin.

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View of the northernmost ruin.

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View inside one of the rooms in the ruin. Note that the back wall is also a constructed wall and not just the bedrock that is exposed.

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View of the door to the room. Mike's "constellation" pattern is at the bottom left of the door.

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A small door up against the overhang - that explains the constructed wall inside the room - it allows for a small storage area between the room and the overhang.

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View of the main door (I wouldn't fit through this!).  The door is framed with branches. - good view of the "constellation" pattern.

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View of inside of the room - branch sticking out was probably part of the roof construction.

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Looking back along the ledge from the last ruin.

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High above on the ceiling of the overhang near the kiva is a ghost handprint.

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Close up of the handprint.

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A pair of ghost handprints on the ceiling.

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The end of one of the beams for the kiva roof.

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This rock has some coloration - wonder if it was used to mix dyes.

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Mike and Nick T discuss the "painter's pallette".

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A pottery shard in the rubble. Must have been a beautiful pot.

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Maize cob left behind.

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More pottery shards showing the diversity of styles.

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05-23 11-48 ms.mp4
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Will climbing down from the ruins.

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Will and Bill descending down slickrock.  Bill is using the tried and true method of sliding down on his rear end when it gets too steep.

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Switchbacking our way down following the grooves in the sandstone.

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Will negotiating a steep spot.

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Bill's not too sure about this - it's easier going up.

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Bill coming down.

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Will taking a last look at the "Fortress".

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Looking up to the kiva portion of the ruin.

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Mike and Nick T making their way down to the lower ledge.

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Checking out the granary on the lower ledge on the way down.

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Close up.

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Back on the "trail" again - down the wash.

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The Nicks going around a bend.

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We were looking for the "Railroad" panel - Mike and the Nicks bushwhacked overland while Bill and Will stayed in the wash. It turned out that the easiest approach was from the down canyon end.  Nick M got this shot of the panel from afar before he went down and flagged Bill and Will.

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View of the panel from the down canyon side.

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05-23 13-20a ws.mp4
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Will's panoramic video of the Railroad Panel.

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05-23 13-25 bm ms.mp4
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Bill and Mike's combined video of the Railroad Panel and its details.

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Nick M and Mike at the Panel

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Overall view of the Panel

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Mike at the Panel

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Click on this thumbnail photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
The main portion of the Railroad Panel
As a structural engineer, I'm fascinated by the Warren Truss sitting on springs that is at the top left of the panel, a type of bridge commonly used for railroads.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Left end of the panel - you can see that wind scour has eroded the patina and is erasing some of the figures.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Close up showing details.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Another shot of this part of the panel.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
It's hard to imagine what some of these symbols represented.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Another view.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Showing the lower portion.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
The next section to the right.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Continuing on to the right - more evidence of erosion.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Details from the previous photo.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Details to the right of the previous photo.

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05-23 13-27 ms.mp4
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In response to Mike's wife's request for more "people videos" - Mike and Will' commentary.

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While Mike and Will were filming the "people video", Nick T. had climbed up above and photo bombed the production.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
Details of the panel at its right edge.

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Click on this photo in order to see the intricate details of the panel.
The panel terminates at the right edge at this "perpendicular" rock edge.  Erosion has also taken its toll here.

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05-23 13-32 ms.mp4
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Mike's video showing the Railroad Panel details from right to left.

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View looking outwards from the panel.

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Nick M. has climbed up to the ridge above and is taking photos.

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Telephoto of Nick M taking photos.

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Nick M's photo of the rock buttress at the end of the ridge he was on.

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Nick T had climbed up to the rim and took this photo - the Railroad Panel is to the left.  You can see Mike just outside of the shadow heading down. Will is inside the shadow and is visible if you enlarge the photo and brighten your monitor.

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Looking up canyon from the rim above the Railroad Panel. (Nick T)

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Another photo by Nick T from the rim - this is to the right of the previous photo.

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Claret Cup Cactus in bloom

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Prickly Pear cacti in bloom

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Across the canyon from the RR panel.

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Slightly down canyon from the RR panel - Nick T heading down from the rim.

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It was getting hot and we trudged on down the canyon.  Up ahead we spy some ruins on a high ledge - one is known as the round house.

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05-23 14-30a ws.mp4
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Will's video of the ruins on the high ledge.

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Getting closer, you can see the remains of a large ruin perched on the ledge. Looked like it was a defensive structure preventing access to the ruins further along the ledge.

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Looking back at the ruin - Even though it looks impossible to access that ledge, I've seen a Photo of the ruin taken from the ledge from this Trip Report.

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Here is the Round House ruin and another larger ruin on that same ledge - The sun was in the wrong position to get a good photo.

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Another view.

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Bushwhacking across a headland.

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A small ruin just above the wash.

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05-23 15-30 ms ws.mp4
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Mike and Will's combined video showing some small granaries.

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Another small granary - note that this is "Shelby's Nosebleed" granary not the one called out in the video.

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Finally reach the Big Pouroff.

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Looking down at the pools of the Big Pouroff.

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You can see all the debris left behind when flash floods go over this point - must be some sight.

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The old man has had it - We decide to camp at the pouroff because of the water situation.  This is the first water since Pollys Island.

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A bone from some unlucky animal - near the Big Pouroff.

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The Nick's went looking for a campsite - and got this photo.  We stopped here for lunch in 2000.

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An artistic photo by Nick M.

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The pool at the bottom of the Big Pouroff.

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05-23 16-57 ms ws.mp4
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Combined Mike and Will's video showing the Big Pouroff Pool and getting our water jugs filled for the night's camp.

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Late afternoon sun and reflections on the Big Pouroff pool.

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05-23 18-08 bm.mp4
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Getting ready for the night and dinner preparation.

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Mike getting his gear ready of the night.

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05-23 18-59a ms.mp4
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Cheesecake Dessert. Lighting the Dragonfly and discussion of rock found by Will.

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05-23 19-37a ws.mp4
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Getting camp shipshape for the night.

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