The Grand Gallery Pictographs – Canyonlands NP, Utah

In the late 1960’s, early 1970’s, I purchased a Sierra Club Ballantine book authored by the brothers, Renny and Terry Russell, titled On the Loose.  It was comprised of their accounts and their photographs from explorations as young men in the wildlands of Utah.  One picture they took and included in the book was of the “Grand Gallery” of ancient Native American pictographs in a small, separate and remote piece of Canyonlands National Park in Utah.  The book captured my imagination and I had every intention of following in their footsteps.  I made several road trips into the southwest before 2004 when I finally set out to find the Grand Gallery.

Departing from a paved highway in central Utah, the dirt and gravel road to the trailhead for the gallery is about 25 miles long.  I made the trip in February.  It was so cold the night before I set out on the day-long hike that my gallon of milk turned into an icy slush overnight.  The trail to the gallery descends from the tableland into the canyon on a very rough “road” dynamited in the 1930’s by uranium prospectors down a sandstone cliff to the canyon below.  The hike takes half a day to the gallery and half a day back.  I had it all to myself.

The pictographs cannot be precisely dated but are estimated to be thousands of years old, made by the Archaic peoples who preceded the Anasazi and more modern Pueblo people.  Here are some photos taken on the way out to the trailhead and on the day of my hike.  [Click on any image to enlarge, All photos copyright symbol Max Vollmer]

The long road out to the trailhead.
Parking at the trailhead.
Dinner of beef stew with fresh, steamed broccoli.
Hiking through the canyon.
The Grand Gallery on the cliff face from 100 yards away.
Some of the pictographs, the largest of which is approx. 8 feet tall.
Otherworldly, probably shamanic figures.
Deer, antelope, and buffalo presumably, with a hunter holding his bow and arrow to the right..
Closeup of the deer pictograph.

The largest and strangest anthropomorphic figures are believed to be the work of shamans on their vision quests.  The animal figures are thought to represent the game hunted by a later group of people.  Fortunately, all the pictographs are now too high up on the wall to reach which gives them some protection from vandals.  Erosion over the centuries has lowered the canyon floor.


Malheur County, Owyhee Canyonlands, Oregon – January 2021

I made a mid-Winter trip down to the SE corner of Oregon, in part to find some open space amid the pandemic, but also for my first glimpse of the Owyhee Canyonlands.  This remote area is very sparsely populated by cattle ranchers and some sheep herders.  To give you and idea, one sign I passed read, “Next gas 120 miles.”  I hit a spate of dry weather which was fortunate because the desert soil turns to a slippery and sticky gumbo when wet.  During the day I needed 4WD on the Leslie Gulch-Succor Creek Byway which is mud in winter.  Here are a few photos, including my first ever selfie.   [Click on any image to enlarge, All photos copyright symbol Max Vollmer]

Hey Karl, note I’m wearing my Canadian “touk” I bought in Lunenburg when we went to see the Bluenose II.  It’s actually warmer and more comfortable than a USN wool watchcap.

This was just before sunset at my first campsite NW of Burns Junction.  Overnight low was 28 degrees F, enough to freeze the mud which made it easier to break camp in the morning.

This was my setup at Succor Creek State Park alongside the Owyhee River.  Dinner that evening was Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles, sliced red pear with some cheese, and hot coffee.

Darkness fell around 5:30 p.m. and the pre-dawn light didn’t amount to much until 5:30 a.m.  That makes for a long night in the sack.  When I packed up and departed on my last morning along the Owyhee, it was 22 degrees F.  I had hot coffee and cleared out while the mud was frozen and shallow puddles were iced over, but not before picking a bunch of sage along the river bank to perfume the truck cab.

Winter colors in the canyonlands are not much to brag about.


A few years ago I rescued a rose bush that was dry and sun baked in a pot.  I transplanted it into some good soil in the partial shade of a century old red cedar tree.  After four years of watering, a little fertilizer, and Fall pruning, the bush rewarded me with these roses. [Click on  image to enlarge, Photo copyright symbol Max Vollmer]

For Laura

Woodworking Hiatus

Since I am presently without a shop, I’ve been posting some of my favorite YouTube videos.  I will be posting some photos and “How to’s” for some older, completed woodwork soon.

To see any of my past woodwork postings, please scroll down and click on the Category “Woodwork,” on the left side of the screen.

José Pablo Moncayo – Huapango – Alondra de la Parra & L’Orchestre de Paris

José Pablo Moncayo is one of the most important of the 20th century Mexican classical composers.  His composition, Huapango, is brilliantly performed here by the Paris Orchestra under the baton of Mexican American conductor, Alondra de la Parra.  I would go to a concert just to see de la Parra conduct in her unique and spirited style.  [Click on Full Screen icon in the lower right corner to best appreciate the video]