Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Only Footprints

Only Footprints (953, EM1)

One of the “rules” that you’ll see in any national park is the one that says “take only pictures and leave only footprints”.  In fact, if you’re driving out of Petrified Forest NP in Arizona, there’s a small chance that they’ll search your car.  They don’t want you leaving with pieces of petrified wood (although almost everybody does).  The part that makes the most sense to me, however, is the second half of the rule: Do no harm.  Leave the park as you found it.  But a lot of people don’t pay any attention to that, either.  And that’s really pretty sad.

Still, footprints do leave something behind.  If nothing else, they tell stories.  They can give you an idea of how many people have been wandering around in a certain area, especially when that area is “off limits”, and they can tell you – in a very general way – what kind of people are doing the wandering.  If the footprints tell you that they’re wearing some kind of hiking boot or shoe, then you can generally conclude that they’re serious hikers.  If you see evidence of a flat-soled shoe or some kind of sandal, on the other hand, then they’re probably not serious hikers and, perhaps, not too bright.  Walking on any kind of slickrock in a flat soled shoe – especially if the elevation is changing rapidly – is just plain dumb.  Unless, of course, you like to fall down and break bones.

But when my wife and I saw this footprint in the Upper East Canyon of Zion we were totally mystified.  It appeared to be a “half” footprint.  More precisely, it looked like the back half of a reasonably good shoe.  The front of the shoe seemed to be missing.  Even more mystifying was the fact that this half-print was by itself.  It was as if somebody had dropped down out of the sky, touched the ground with the back part of their foot, and then taken off again.  There were no other prints nearby.  Weird.

I’m sure there was a reasonable explanation.  I just never found out what it was.  Maybe some of the local critters had found an abandoned shoe and were trying to drive people like me crazy.  Like a local fun-loving eagle or something.  Hey, you never know……….


6 Responses to “Only Footprints”

    • Paul Maxim

      Yeah, seriously. My wife and I scratched our heads for a long time on this one……….

  1. Earl Moore

    Paul, I’ve gotta think it was intentionally created to mystify those who noticed it. Still, as you said, “weird” is a good description for it and kudos’ to whoever created it.

    • Paul Maxim

      In all seriousness, Earl, I honestly believe that this strange print was made by someone who was simply walking around. I say that only because we found it in an area where not many people go. If someone did it intentionally, why not put it in a more well traveled spot? But that doesn’t help explain the “weirdness”, does it. And it had to have been made not long before we saw it – footprints don’t last long in this sandy soil.

  2. Cedric Canard

    Oh, we see this kind of print all over Australia. It looks like you’re being visited by a Giant One-legged, Half-footed, Desert Kangaroo. It’s half paw print looks a lot like a boot print but if you ventured further along the path, say 50-60 metres along, you would have seen the next print (it jumps high and long).

    Glad I was able to solve that puzzle for you.

    Next week I will tell you about Drop Bears and how more people die from Koalas dropping out of trees than from shark attacks. 😉

    • Paul Maxim

      Half-footed Desert Kangaroos wear boots?? Or have paw prints that look like a size 12 LL Bean hiking boot? And can jump 50 meters or more? Not to mention Koala Bears who think they’re flying squirrels…….

      Man, I always knew I wanted to visit the Land Down Under, but this clinches it! Why have you guys been keeping these amazing creatures a secret from the rest of us?


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