Monday, August 18, 2014

Morteros Trail Village Site - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

This post relates to an ancient Indian habitation site, in the Little Blair Valley area of ABDSP.  For more than a thousand years, the Kumeyaay (ku-may-eye) Indians used this spot on a seasonal basis. Each year, as the weather turned cold, they would migrate down from their summer villages, in the Cuyamaca and Laguna Mountains. The park openly admits to the existence of this place, but it is infrequently visited because of it's location. We were in the Little Blair Valley all day and didn't see a single person (besides each other). Of course, it was 106-F there today. 

Another day, another road in the middle of nowhere. Actually this road was in pretty good shape, but there were areas of deep sand. It would be very easy to get stuck here.

The hike up the trail on the left was a short one, but well worth the time. 

Very rough country. 

It doesn't take long before you start seeing evidence of a former village.  The right side of the large stone in front, has four mortars on it and the left side of the has many cupules. They may look like small mortars, but they are actually considered the earliest form of Rock Art.

A closer look at the rock. Note the cupules in the upper left part of the photo.

There are also several cupules on the vertical surface of this large rock.

A little further up the trail was this large boulder.

Next to the large boulder is this large rock with many cupules on it. If you look at it from the right angle, it looks like a huge fish (maybe a grouper). The largest cupule looks like the fish's eye.

On the back side of the boulder there are some pictographs.  

Enhanced a bit with DStretch. If you look in the upper right hand corner, you can see that there were two black symbols. The one on the left, is all but invisible now (see previous photo).

This boulder is about thirty feet tall. You can see that the two pieces were attached at one time.

On the other side of the boulder, there are morteros (mortars) on an adjacent rock.

Another mortero. I was also excited about the ice cold water in the jug my wife was carrying.

And another

And so on...

Sorry, I never get tired of them. EVERY time I see a mortar, or any other type of grinding or milling stone. I see (in my mind's eye) female members of the tribe, preparing food. They are also probably making small talk about the events of the day. 

Once past the village site, the trail deteriorates into no trail at all.

The trail is on the right side. Next to the trail is Cholla Cactus. Cholla Cactus is also called "jumping cactus." Cholla Cactus is NOT your friend.

Near the end of the canyon stands this large boulder. 

Once closer to the boulder, a dark black pictograph is visible.

Here is a close up of the symbols. I couldn't find any information on them, but I know that black is the "male" color and the top and bottom symbols appear to be anthropomorphic males. I could be mistaken, but I believe human anatomy was one of the few classes I passed.

On our way back down the trail, there is a rock shelter. There are a few cupules inside, but not much else.

The desert is usually a quite and peaceful place. Not so much, on this trip. This little beauty is a Cicada. I'm sure some of you know much more about them than I do. All I know, is they don't live very long, only show up every once in a while and are VERY loud.

I took this photo once we got back to the trail head. We were camped on top of the most distant mountain, just to the left of the tall Agave stalk. The Indians roasted and ate the agave. More on that subject in a future post. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hollowed Boulder Rock Art - Joshua Tree National Park

Back to the rock art!  This is one of my favorite sites, in my favorite part of Joshua Tree National Park. It has petroglyphs, fantastic pictographs and very few people have ever heard about it, much less seen it. 

By looking at my wife (lower left), you can see how large this boulder is.

Although you can clearly make out many of the pictographs with the naked eye, when enhanced they really pop out at you.

you might want to embiggen this photo
As you can see, there are petroglyphs pecked into the rock, right over some of the pictographs. This is a clear indicator that the pictographs and petroglyphs were done by different tribes, at different points in history.

As viewed with the naked eye.

Same photo enhanced with DStretch. Quite a few symbols in this site. It wasn't until I got home, that I noticed the hand print in the upper right of this photo.

Same photo as above, it is also enhanced with DStretch, but tweaked a bit differently. 

As seen at the site

After enhancement, many more symbols are visible. Note the anthropomorphic (human) in the lower left. If you look closely at it, I'm pretty sure that you will agree that it represents a male. Next to it is a white yoni (female hoo hoo). Above the yoni is a red rain symbol. There are a lot of other symbols at this site. Some are known, most are guessed at, but unknown. 

A little further to the left of the last photo


This area is under the main panel of rock art is primarily petroglyphs

One of the reasons this site is virtually unknown, is because part of the hike to get there, takes you through canyons like this.

Caves caused by erosion. Very interesting.  This photo and rest are included just to show you why we love this place so much.

I'm not saying this is anywhere close to the rock art site, but it is huge and sure catches your eye. 

Shark? Eel? Pac Man?


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Ends of the Earth

A few months ago, Jeep sponsored a contest named, "From the Ends of the Earth." To enter the contest you had to submit up to five, adventure themed photographs involving a Jeep. Five winners were to be selected from the entrants.  Each winner would receive five-thousand dollars.   Guess what?

That's right people! Five grand for a single photo...

My wife did all the work (what little there was), but she somehow forgot to ask me to sign a model release form. Hey, people make mistakes, right? That is why I gave her a break and only demanded half of the money...

If you are wondering where we found this jeep, just follow this link.