Saturday, November 5, 2011

River Trip: Day Two

The next morning we awoke and were ready to go. We had 12 1/2 miles to travel in one day, so we had to stay organized and get going. We got on the river and were off. Today we were going to be hitting several rapids so everyone was extremely excited.
After dipping and diving through the rapids were made a quick stop to a pictograph. Pictographs, unlike hieroglyphs, are painted on to the canyon walls. Because the paints come off the walls relatively easily, it is amazing to see several that have withstood time. The reason for this pictograph surviving is likely because it does not face the constant wind and is hidden on a canyon wall.I loved seeing the little hand prints that surround the painting. The big circle symbol of the pictograph is thought by some anthropologists to represent war. Of course, the exact meaning is unknown.

Also while looking at the pictographs we saw many granaries.These are storage units that were often built high of the ground and in small cubbies in canyon walls. These granaries haven't yet been examined or dug though to determine what was stored in them. Actually many sites along the San Juan have remained unexcavated in order to preserve history and tradition. It is also done out of respect to our ancestors.

In order to see the pictograph we had to cross a small river. At one point we were all up to our waist in water and up to our knees in mud. Of course this muddy water was not new to our group. The San Juan and surrounding area has survived centuries of soil erosion. The banks of the river are all sand and the river is a nice brown color. My class couldn't decide whether the river was the color of chocolate milk, cappuccino, chai tea latte, or the just chocolate. But either way, getting into the river was definitely exfoliating.

Once we saw the pictograph and crossed back over the small river, we continued downstream to make camp. Remember those groups that were with us at launch? well we had to camp just a little bit downstream from one of them, and let's just say they were not going to waste any of that beer. Til pretty late in the night we heard tons of laughing and even some mock howling. Meanwhile our group is having a camp fire discussion on the cultural and environmental issues of the river. But we did not mind the noise; it made the night hilarious for sure.

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