On The Page: Sandstone Spine

I am a mountain girl at heart but having some time in the desert has become really key to my happiness. While looking at maps of the deserts of the 4 Corners region, I’ve traced the length of Comb Ridge with my finger, marveling how far it extends. Browsing the adventure travel section of the library, I found Sandstone Spine: Seeking the Anasazi on the First Traverse of the Comb Ridge by David Roberts.

Sandstone Spine

Knowing a little bit about the terrain of the area, I was impressed that someone would have done this (although I still dream about The Hayduke Trail which is even more impressive). Traveling with two friends, the author describes the slow going over the tricky terrain, tensions of traveling in a group, and ruins found throughout the ridge.

My bar for a good travel book is one that either makes you see an area you know in a different light or desperately want to travel to a new area. I’ve spent some time around Comb Ridge both on the Butler Wash side and on the Comb Wash side but never really explored the canyons of the Ridge. This book makes me want to go wander canyons so badly.

Roberts very lovingly describes the Anasazi and Basketmaker ruins that he, Greg, and Vaughn explore along their trek. He pulls in just touches of his understanding of the history of the human occupation of the area, mentioning Robert S. McPherson’s work as well as some of his earlier books (it also made me want to revisit Craig Child’s House of Rain).

Sandstone Spine excellently combines history, travel, and human history for a very readable book. I am also excited for fall desert season. Anyone up for adventure?

Backside of Comb Ridge

 

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Comb Wash

Packing up our spot near Devil’s Canyon, we headed south into Blanding. I went for a run through town then we headed out to see Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum. Usually the museum costs $5 each but we were able to check it out free since we were attending a lecture about Chaco culture in the southwest. After the lecture, we headed down to Bluff and visited Ft. Bluff museum. We made a quick stop at Sand Island Recreation site for Sprocket to get in a bit more swimming and then made our way down to Comb Wash.

Southern Utah vistas

Backside of Comb Ridge

Desending into Comb Wash

Less than a mile down Comb Wash road we found a perfect camping site. F prepared to go for a motorcycle ride the next day and I plotted a hike. (Sprocket was suffering from a toe injury and was given trailer sleeping duty.) The next day dawned sunny and beautiful, if a little but blustery. I decided to pack my new tripod along with me and discovered that the two ice axe straps on my Teton Sports pack held the tripod quite nicely. (I’ve added a carabiner on the bottom so we’ll see if that improves vertical stability on my next adventure.)

Teton Sports

I chose to hike up a large wash less than a mile north of our campsite. It was fun to hike through and marvel at how this is just one of many, many such canyons around the southwest.

Reflection

Exploring a wash

Exploring a wash

Exploring a wash

Lizard

After a bit, I spotted this blobby pinnacle hanging out in the desert so I headed over to see if I could climb it. I definitely made the climb as difficult as possible by traversing around it on a small ledge before finding my way up onto its summit. The view from the top was pretty incredible though!

Pinnacle

Self portrait, Beth

Comb Wash Pano

I started working my way back to camp via a different wash to my south. Unexpectedly, I chose the one that lead right to the trailer!

Hiking near Comb Wash

Exploring near Comb Wash

Waterfall in wash

It was a fun hike. I was sad that Sprocket couldn’t come with me. This was just his length with lots of places to sniff and lots of sand to roll in!