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.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Alister's Cave Rock Art - Joshua Tree National Park

First off, Alister's Cave isn't actually a cave, it's an alcove, under an overhang, on the side of a cliff. It's probably one of the more well known "secret" rock art sites in the park. Having said that, the number of people who have either seen it, or heard about it, is minuscule. Most of the people who do know about it, are rock climbers and they pretty much ignore it. I'm happy to report, that there appears to be zero vandalism done to the site over the many decades that I've known about it. The main problem with the site is the degradation of the pictographs due to weathering and the natural decomposition of the granite surface. There are also a few faint petroglyphs on a portion of the floor. 

please embiggen this one
This photo and the next, may or may not be in the same area as Alister's Cave. 

Nothing to do with rock art, but it is in the area and is a beautiful example of a California Barrel Cactus

An alcove under an overhang on the side of a cliff. It's pretty tough sledding through all the boulders and vegetation snarls to get to a climbable spot. This isn't that spot...

As you can see, the pictographs are very faint. That is very unfortunate because there are a ton of them here in many layers. 

An enhanced (via DStretch) version of the photo above. Still not too good.

Another example of how faded most of the pictos are

Enhanced version of the previous photo

As viewed by me


As viewed

Enhanced by DStretch. I recognize a few of them. There is a Yoni or atlatl in the upper right hand corner. There also appears to be a flying saucer in the middle of the photo. Nah!

A closer photo of the flying saucer looking symbol

Some visible black pictographs 

Enhanced version. At the top center, there appears to be a anthropomorphic symbol. The symbols that look like brooms are likely representing rain. 

This panel is pretty much invisible to the naked eye

Thanks to DStretch, we can at least see what is left of the pictos in that spot

Once again, very hard to see. It does look like there are some very faded reddish, white and black symbols.

This enhanced version of the previous photo, reflects exactly why DStretch is so amazing...  The large white image to the upper left is clearly anthropomorphic (human, or human like). The red symbol in the center might be an atlatl (spear or arrow thrower). The appearance of an atlatl indicates that at least some of these symbols are VERY old, because the atlatl was used to "throw" arrows, darts and spears before the appearance of the "bow" in this part of the country.

In the next two photos, you will be able to see, that there are old pictographs drawn over older pictographs. 

Enhancement #1 is concentrated on the dark pigments

Enhancement #2 is concentrated on the red pigments. Old on top of old, on top of older.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Pictograph Trail - Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

We're perched on our favorite mountain ridge, in the Cuyamaca Mountains for a couple of weeks. From where I'm sitting, if I look down and to my right, I can see the Yaqui Well/Tamarisk Grove campground area of Anza-Borrego. If I look behind me, I can see all the way into Mexico. Closer than Mexico though, and also visible, is the Little Blair Valley area. As the crow flies, it is only about 12 miles away. Unfortunately, we aren't crows. So it takes over an hour to get there using a combination of roads.  I don't mind though, because we're almost a mile high in elevation. When we left here it is was about 77 degrees. When we dropped down into the desert, it was HOT and made it up to 104 degrees. It gets MUCH hotter there.

This was taken from our site also. The little notch just above center is the saddle between Little Blair Valley and Smuggler's Canyon. There is a hiking trail leading up to the saddle and down the other side.
feel free to embiggen photos to enhance your viewing pleasure
This is the view to my right as I'm typing this. Once we got to the bottom of the Banner Grade, we headed towards the horizon. Once we got to the other side of the large mountain (Granite Mt.) to the right. We went right and eventually into Little Blair Valley. 

Down the mountain

Past a dry lake bed

Just about to the bottom of the notch in the first photo. Except for the Border Patrol helicopter that checked us out, we didn't see anther human the whole time we were there. Mad dogs and Englishmen, I suppose...

Looking back towards our campground (on top of the ridge in the middle) from the trail head. 

This is an enlarged and cropped section of the previous photo. Our RV is in the right side of those pine trees on the ridge line. That spot is about 12 miles away and almost a mile higher. Those two little white spots are part of the California Wolf Center which is involved in reintroducing wolves into the state. They have several packs of wolves there and you should hear them all howl. Spooky, beautiful and amazing. If you are ever in the Julian area, it is well worth taking the time to visit.

Geez, that was a lot of writing and photos and we're just now getting to the subject of the post. We're finally up trail a bit. You can still see where we are camped.

Except for hiking in sand and uphill most of the way, this 2-mile out and back trail is pretty easy. However, once you consider all the little side trips I take, looking at things that catch my eye (or because I'm ADD) you can probably add a mile to it.

Looking back down the trail

This is some tough country

Just because I like it.

I'm looking at every peculiar rock for rock art. You never know what you might find.

Coming down the other side of the saddle 

See the large rock at ground level in the distance?

This is that rock!

As is...


A first glance all the pictos appear to be red.

Looking at the rock closer it looks like there is some yellow present. The dark pictos in this DStretched version are actually yellow. (I'm still a novice).

You can see some of the yellow in this one.

Finally! Yellow...

I've never seen yellow (or in this enhanced case brown) diamond chains. There is even an anthropomorphic figure to the left of the sunburst. 

Red and Yellow chains in the same spot. Based on the red diamond chains, this site appears to be (at least in part) related to female puberty initiates. Some of you might remember my earlier post on the subject. 

A lone bedrock mortero at the site. That doesn't mean there aren't many more in the vicinity...

only because I thought it was pretty

Although my Granny was an expert and knew more about Joshua Tree than anybody I've ever met or heard of, she was no slouch when it came to Anza-Borrego. What she loved the most about Anza-Borrego was that until recently, there were very few restrictions relating to where you went and where you camped. She and and my step-granddad, really liked to get away from people. That is very easy to do here because you can camp just about anywhere. Pick a spot on any back country road and you can camp as long as you are a car's length away from the road. It was and pretty much still is wild, beautiful and desolate place.

A bit about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Largest desert park in the country
Second largest state park in the country
500 miles of dirt roads (you can camp anywhere, as long as you are a car length away from any dirt road)
Almost 5,000 cultural sites (this is one of them) with only 20% of the park surveyed to date
28 mountain peaks and summits
The world's largest wooden train trestle
12 designated Wilderness areas withing the park