A Trip to Long Fingers Ruin

In May of this year we met with a couple of friends from Seattle, Nancy and Pokey, and headed up Butler Wash to do some hiking on Comb Ridge.  This particular day our goal was Long Fingers Ruin–a medium sized, Pueblo III alcove site tucked away in one of the Comb’s numerous sandstone folds, named after an interesting petroglyph depicting two hand prints with unusually long fingers.

Long Fingers

We parked in a dispersed campsite at the end of a BLM road and began walking west on a recently closed two-track, towards the Comb.

Recently closed OHV trail in Butler Wash.

We paused here and there to photograph the spring wild-flowers and admire the panoramic views of Comb Ridge, but these weren’t why we were here.

Cactus in full-bloom

After about 30 – 45 minutes of easy to moderate hiking past several small sites: hopping from slickrock to slickrock and staying in the washes as much as possible in order to avoid the crypto and vegetation, we rounded a corner and there it was–Long Fingers Ruin.

The trail leading up the canyon to Long Fingers Ruin

Following a narrow path around the base of the cliff, past several pecked figures and handprints, we came to what was left of a low masonry wall and small door, built across the narrowest part of the approach.

Long Fingers Ruin

Beyond the door the alcove opened up and we were presented with the remains of several masonry structures, including dwelling spaces, storage spaces, a kiva and a large boulder containing several metates, or grinding surfaces.  Having the place to ourselves we spent the better part of the morning exploring the site, taking in every detail.

Boulder with metates

While the site is obviously well-known and sees regular visitation, there are still artifacts to look at (putting them back in place afterward rather than piling them on “museum rocks”).

Structural remains in the Long Fingers alcove

I was happy to note that the midden was mostly protected by a rather scary-looking patch of prickly-pear cactus.  Speaking of “museum rocks“–there were several (unfortunately).  I’ll just say that they really bug the hell out of me and leave it at that.

Spring wildflowers amid a large cactus patch, all acting to help safe-guard the midden

After several hours we moved on, leaving the site as we found it.

View from the back of the alcove, looking up and out towards the protective wall of the site

Up near the rim of the Comb, and a wee bit south, we stumbled upon a big procession-like petroglyph panel,  similar to The Procession Panel but different, several granaries and more mind-boggling views–pictures to follow next week.

From across the canyon: A line of pecked steps or "mokis"

I’ve been feeling that wanderlust thing again recently.  It might be time to start planning a fall trip.  August and September will go fast, and October IS my favorite time of year in southern Utah…

Looking north and east across Comb Ridge

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2 Responses to A Trip to Long Fingers Ruin

  1. Rick Berry says:

    It’s refreshing to see someone who has a similar feeling as I do about what you’ve termed museum rocks. My name is much less flattering, as apparently is my feeling about the practice. Unfortunately the clueless of this world, which seem to by far be the majority, seem to feel that there is nothing wrong with this despicable practice. I found your site while looking for a place to take a cousin this spring, unfortunately he is one of those clueless people. What is especially appealing is that you were sufficiently vague about the whereabouts of the ruins. I’m not sure we will actually go there, but I’m glad to see there is at least one more who feels there is extremely good reason to protect these things. There seem to be less and less all the time.

  2. Hi Rick,
    Thanks for your comments. Yes, the museum rocks are incredibly frustrating. I like to believe that folks create (or add to them) not to be deliberately destructive, but because they think they are actually doing something beneficial to people that come along after them. This is, of course, as far from the truth as it could be. The artifacts that are taken from their original locations and added to the “display” are now out of context (not good if you’re an archaeologist looking at the site), exposed to the elements, and become even more tempting treats for would be artifact collectors – “There are so many here, what would it hurt if I took just one?” And, no, I don’t typically give out a lot of detail in regards to location when it comes to remote, “off the beaten path” sites. As an archaeologist, I feel I have a responsibility to help preserve and protect them. I don’t feel quite right giving step by step directions. You are right – there are less and less all the time.

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