Grand Canyon Polychrome

Fifth Times the Charm: Atlas

Ever since I heard about this amazing panel (referred to as Atlas) by a friend, I was on a mission to find it. I have so many people ask me how I find all of these places. Well, most times, it’s by getting out there, on foot, all day, and searching high and low after getting a ‘tip’ or hint from someone I know, or something I read online. In this instance, it was from a friend who literally gave me one super vague clue “it’s in (redacted for protection purpose) canyon” 🙂

When you live close to the Grand Canyon, and know about all of the windy, steep, remote and mesmerizing side canyons and tributaries, a clue like “it’s in THIS canyon” seems nearly impossible to find. But, I was determined.

Early this year, Steve and I set out to find Atlas. We spent upwards of 40 hours over 5 weekends just literally plotting along and looking under every single alcove, rock outcropping, in every cave, up every drainage.

A miracle happened on week #4 — we had finished another very loooong day looking high and low to no avail. When we got back to the trailhead (which is almost always vacant!) there was another group of hikers getting ready to make a multi-day trek to various points in the canyon. Just as we were pulling away, the one guy in the group approached us and asked if he could ‘buy’ our hats off our heads! He had forgotten a hat and was very worried about getting sunburn over multiple days. Instead, we bargained, we’d give him our hat if he could give us even one clue to the panel. 🙂

He consulted w/ his buddies and they gave us just one final ‘clue’ that was the one that lead us to the artwork. (It took another whole weekend — but it was worth it!)

That’s just another story of how it goes out there in the wild… when looking for precious and fragile artifacts. This one was particularly fragile, with pieces of the wall starting to peel off. It’s so important to not touch the artwork and to leave no trace — what a treasure it is to see something so old and intricate — for a glimpse into a past life of ancient neighbors. I’m so humbly grateful for this opportunity!

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