Even the ranger admitted that the name of the trail is somewhat of a misnomer: “They call it the Island Trail, but it’s shaped like a peninsula.”
Here’s what we saw as we headed into the canyon. The Visitors’ Guide is on the right.
Desert plants surviving in the snow.
I can only imagine the classified ads for these places: “1-3 BR, Great views. Must see to believe. Call for appointment.”
“… a stratum of rock, softer than those above, had been hollowed out by the action of time … The overhanging cliff made a roof two hundred feet thick. The hard stratum was an everlasting floor. Thus the houses stood along in a row; like the buildings in a city block, or like a barracks.”
-Willa Cather, on a visit to Walnut Canyon in 1912
Heading down into the canyon.
- One of the dwellings.
Mormon Tea. This plant is a member of the ephedra genus and was used by native tribes as a beverage and medicinal tonic.
The trail was partially closed due to weather and safety conditions. However, we were able to look inside.
The view from inside.
Bryon, who is 6’5″, provides a sense of scale.
- A view across the canyon.
As we made our way back up the path I thought of Willa Cather and the tourists who had come a hundred years before us. They had been more adventurous to come this way, unencumbered by modern conveniences, untethered by technology. Even so: we had nothing on the communities who had lived here hundreds of years before us. Their great grandchildren had long since died or moved on. I understood why: as soon as I made the vertical climb back to the Visitors’ Center, I had to stop and rest before crawling back to the car.