When you were a child and thunder was new to you, did your mother try to console you by explaining that the noise was just God and the angels bowling in heaven? My mom did that. I believed her because she’d never lie to me, and she knew I’d catch her (although I don’t understand why Santa stopped sending me $20 at Christmas when she died). She always told people that I was their peer, although there may be more intelligent children. Well, what her exact words were is, “He sure ain’t the brightest kid in the class.”
This memory comes to mind because I think I’ve captured the scoreboard that the angels used. It’s visible in this week’s picture—the rows of distorted cribbage holes. If one of the bowlers threw a strike, a lightning bolt would cause a tree to burst into flames. Then they’d advance their marker into the next hole. The one that got their rock in the last spot won. It’s that simple.
I did a lot of online research to prove my thesis, but I found nothing. Instead, the experts call this kind of erosion honeycomb weathering. It’s not clearly understood, but it’s an alchemy of rock, salt, rain, freezing, and expansion. You also have to hold your tongue just right while you’re making it. I saw this type of erosion before in Canyonlands National Park when we visited too long ago, so I assume that it’s shared across Southern Utah’s sandstone formations.
This example of honeycomb weathering is in Utah’s Snow Canyon in a place they call Jenny’s Canyon. It’s at the end of a half-mile (round trip) trail near the park’s south entrance, and it was the shortest and the most rewarding of the side trips that we took. The trail leads to a slot canyon in the sandstone, but not the usual slot. Unlike Antelope Canyon near Page—where running water has cut a course into the sandstone—this is one of those stacked dunes (see last week’s picture) with a gap between the layers. Jenny’s Canyon begins as a typical slot, but dead ends in a short cave. I took my shot from inside the cave.
If you think some weird bacteria are growing on the cave walls, let me explain the color. Like wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses, when the sunlight bounces off the red sandstone, it adds that color to the reflected light, and that’s why the back wall seems to glow orange. Other photographers have successfully captured this phenomenon at Bryce Canyon, but I’ve been unlucky so far. “Damn you, Bryce. I’ll get you one day.”
The second image that I included to illustrate my post is the sky from Jenny’s slot canyon. I’ve seen photos like this, and I wanted one of my own. I think the blue against the glowing orange and dark walls look like torn craft paper glued on one another as a collage. I consider it an abstract because it has no story of its own.
You can see a larger version of Arch and Honeycomb Weathering on its Web Page by clicking here. Come back next week to see the next trail that we explored. It’s not far up the road.
Until next time — jw