Three weeks before, after hiking McFadden Horse Mountain, we got to the edge of the first ravine on this Elephant Rocks Arch hike and decided that this would be a good place to start another day. Even after gazing upon the steep ravine, and feeling completely lost unless I checked my GPS as we returned to the trailhead that day, I, along with @john10s
, did indeed return.
We reached that first ravine and it didn’t look nearly as steep as I remembered. Ha! We weren’t in the same spot. But crossing it is crossing it, and we did just that.
I must have been zoomed out when I studied the map, however, for I thought that this ravine was the only major ascent before the one immediately before the arch. But there were several ravines, and ascending one was particularly brushy, with plenty of spiny, thorny flora. (But it wasn't as bad as the later descent in a slightly different spot!) But the area was beautiful, and finding the ruin was exciting, despite its poor condition. There, with the arch first visible in the area of a ruin, I couldn't help but immerse myself as best I could in the world of hundreds-of-years-ago when the “ruin” was a "vital ancestral site.") (Thank you Picture Canyon folks for that distinction.)
The reward for that last push up the steepest ascent to the arch was so much more than I expected. The arch would have been enough, but we were greeted with a wonderland of rocks that equals the many other “wonderland of rocks” out there. The rocks themselves swirl with their own stories of creation, and windows and views abound before reaching the actual arch.
After extending exploration and photography as much as we dared on the exposed rock and under darkening clouds, we moved on to the mesa and unnamed canyon, peaceful and rugged gems. The canyon was varied, with spires and caves, and the views were amazing.
On the return trip, we stumbled upon a second ruins site. Elephant Rock was visible from there, and we were pleased to find that it was rather sprawling, with multiple rooms.
All in all, a great day, and we need to return after carefully studying the trip logs to try and find things we missed, such as more ancestral sites.