No one knows if they traveled for a day, a week, months or generations. No one knows if they were coming here to this canyon, this sand and red rock desert or if they recorded a journey, a migration to a distant place. No one knows how many of them moved across this land with their possessions, with their culture and myths, with the knowledge that allowed them more than just survival. The knowledge that empowered them to build palaces of rock and adobe with their whitewashed plaster interior walls, still standing after hundreds of years. Their history carved in stone long before there was a Utah .
There are theories of course, some believe the people depicted are clans coming to a great kiva from different directions for a ritual or event. Or that the panel doesn’t represent an actual event but instead depicts cultural concepts. There is a belief that the creators of these pictographs were early pueblo people, perhaps Basket Maker III, dating back about 1,300 years ago.
We arrived in spring to explore and to find a story that was written on sandstone. On a previous trip we had gotten close to the Procession Panel site, looking for but missing, as it turns out, by a few yards, 50 maybe 100. Then the wind was a living thing, trying to blast us from the ridge, keeping us hunkered, sometimes on hands and knees. You have to want something with a passion that will stop at nothing, the will to power through no matter the price. Then the wind was stronger, a protective fierceness for the ancient ones. But this trip the wind was somewhere else and we found the mystery on the cliff face.
It is not a difficult hike, maybe 1&1/2 miles one way, a climb of perhaps 500 to 600 feet across slickrock and washes. Typical Comb Ridge terrain.
We are wildlife photographers but we are interested in the world at large and have, over time, had that interest manifest itself in the desire to learn more about and photograph Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) ruins and rock art. It has been through this quest that we have come to a profound realization of just how populated our country was. Imagine this….although it is still debated, there were an estimated 18 – 20 million Native Americans living north of Mexico in the United States when many of our European ancestors first set foot on our shores.