Monday, May 5, 2014

Hexie Mountains - Desolate and Beautiful - Joshua Tree National Park

I apologize for my absence here. We've been out there, doing what we do, but I just haven't had much free time lately. I have plenty of backed up posts in draft form. Some from places, some stories and some that are just the general nonsense I post from time to time.
The Hexie Mountains are a desolate and beautiful place. Clearly off the sightseeing agendas of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park. This area is pure wilderness. No people, but there are animals and they only have two things to worry about...

 Finding food and avoiding becoming food!

My wife and I spent the better part of a day here and didn't see another person. The same is true for the last time I was there. Even human footprints are few and far between. 

We found some of what we were looking for, some things we weren't looking for and didn't have time to find a couple of things that I knew the location of (that sucked!).

 We could have easily spent two or three days in this area. It is beautiful.

Remember those wooden Tiki necklaces people used to wear? I thought this guy looked like one of them.

Okay, enough of the scenery for now. I really liked the eroded little arch in the middle of these boulders. These were just a fraction of the photos I took. Rock formations may all look alike to some folks, but not to me. They are all different and all beautiful.  By the way, none of the these photos necessarily relate to the next group of photos. I'm not going to make it that easy for anybody (if you catch my drift).

There are many clues that this area was lived in by local Indians for a long while. This bedrock mortar (mortero) was close to a quarter mile from....

 This broken milling stone or "slick" 

Here is a close-up of the same stone. You can see that it is worn smooth on top and slightly concave. As I look at this photo, I wish I had given a closer look to the small dark stone to the left of it. I'd bet a donut that the bottom side of that rock is also smooth and was used to grind things (as a mano) on the larger one.

This is the side opening into the high point of the day.  It leads into...

 This rock shelter! The shelter is great on it's own, but reaches amazing stature because of...

These rocks! They appear to have been arranged a very long time ago. They aren't just sitting there, like it was recently done, they have settled into the ground (or the ground is reclaiming them). I'd say maybe it was a fire ring, but I didn't see any ashes around it at all, nor did I see any smoke or carbon stains on the rocks around or above it. Maybe it was a cache for weapons, food, etc. Although caches were usually created in higher, more isolated and protected locations. I have no idea what it is and I'm fine with that. 

In another area, there were some petroglyphs (pecked, scratched, scraped into rocks) and pictographs (painted in some manner onto rocks). If you look at the center and just to right of center, you can see a grid design scraped into the stone. 

Here is a closer look at the petroglyph. It is very faded and probably easier to see in the other photo. When this design was created, it would have been scratched through the desert varnish (the dark stuff) and right into the rock. It takes many centuries and sometimes thousands of years for the "varnish" to reform to the point where it totally covers and destroys the petroglyph. this panel looks to almost be at that point.

 Very close to the petroglyph in the last photo, is this small alcove. In the alcove is a....

  human form (anthropomorphic) pictograph.

 Here is the same pictograph after enhancing with DStretch

One more small pictograph 

Even enhanced with DStretch, I have no idea what it is. 

This is an awesome big panel of petroglyphs! Unfortunately, they are also just about gone. 

Same photo as above, but tweaked a little bit. It doesn't help very much, but if you look at it closely, there are some interesting shapes. One actually does look kind of like a flying saucer. Ancient Alien theorists believe that..... Sorry, too much cable TV.

About a quarter mile away from that last photo, are two more bedrock mortars and at least one cupule. In case you don't remember, cupules are an ancient form of rock art (maybe the oldest). The cupule is to the right of the larger mortar and towards the edge. I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have started a new mortar in that spot.

These next four photos and the first few, don't necessarily have any relation to the rock art, shelter, or mortars. They are here so you can see why we think this area is so beautiful. I think this looks like an eel. 

I included this photo, because it looks almost exactly like one from another part of the park. One that I can't seem to find right now.

That is all for now! 



  1. Beautiful place. You really know how to find the markings. If that pit was for fire, it was used a long time ago.
    And yes, that rock looks like a tiki guy!

  2. another amazing area you share with us non-explorers! love the stone formations but really loved the fire ring and shelter area you found!

  3. 'Finding food and avoiding becoming food. oh wow what an opening line Pat! Such a tough existence oui! Living in both Africa and Australia I share your fascination with rocks of all sizes and shapes, we have some beauties here that I must get around to showing. I enjoyed this series so much, merci beaucoup.

  4. Another terrific, fascinating post and incredible captures, Pat!! Such an amazing place and so much beauty that is all so unique! Thank you, as always, for sharing!! Awesome!! Hope you have a great week!

  5. Those rock formations are really something Pat! That last one really looks like a big frog.

  6. One could spend a lifetime exploring all the nooks and crannies for those amazing treasures. Thanks for sharing, these are nothing short of incredible!

  7. I have loved every part of Joshua Tree that we've seen and compared to you guys we've only obviously seen a small fraction of it. These are amazing beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. That thing you do with your photos to enhance the petros and pictos is really a cool app.

  8. Stark and utterly beautiful. That is a park that I would love to see for myself.

  9. Wow---now that place is terrific... George and I love hiking to places where there are NO people. Sometimes, when we find a waterfall WAY back in the mountains and we are the only ones there, I feel as if it was made just for US.... Such a wonderful feeling.

    So glad you all found that place. I loved the petroglyphs and the rock shelter... WOW!!! Thanks for sharing.


  10. Stunning! But, I'd spend all my time worrying about snakes! Heck, I worry about snakes in my own backyard.

  11. Yes, wonderful photos, thanks for showing us this wonderful place with magic rocks that suggest ancient rituals!

  12. Great pictures - and I catch your drift as to why the pictures are not in sequence!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. So interesting. The boulders themselves are very beautiful the way nature has coloured them and arranged them, but what a bonus to find the rock shelter complete with mortars and petroglyphs. I would very much enjoy exploring this area of the park. It's probably a good thing that few people visit this area or it would likely be ruined.

  14. I thought I could see a figure riding a horse in the pictographs...a good imagination I guess. Such clear blue sky in these photos! My's been raining here for two weeks!!

  15. I love this clean, elemental environment that reveals the ancient history of the earth; it's bones. I think I've said it before, but Joshua Tree is so overwhelming, so overpowering, I actually get tears in my eyes whenever I go there. An excellent series, especially to expose the park to those who haven't yet experienced it firsthand.

  16. Awesome pics. What a shame those petroglyphs are disappearing!

  17. every one of those pictures looked like something different. this is probably a stupid question, but is the person riding the horse on the rock full of pictographs intentional or part of the rock's natural layering?

  18. Ce sont de merveilleuses photos, le désert est vraiment très impressionnant!
    Have a nice week- Cath.

  19. It's so beautiful there. These photos make me want to take a long walk in the desert.

  20. Maybe it was an ancient Indian baby cache? Just a thought.

    I don't bet donuts Pat. I find that where gambling donuts is concerned, no man is a winner.

    Great set of pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Oh, you can take all the time you need if you return with photos like these.

  22. Alex - Thanks Alex! What I really know how to do, is research. It also helps that my wife can spot this stuff on a rock, when it's invisible to me. Some outside help is also a good thing (when it's available). There are very few people who know about these places and none of them are talking.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks Theresa! Yep, the shelter was the best of the day. It just oozed (in a symbolic way) with history.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Oh yeah! You do not want to become food out there. You guys have some rocks that just don't exist anywhere else. My pleasure and thanks to you as well.

    Sylvia K - Thank you so much Sylvia! Sharing is my pleasure.

    Brian - It is an amazing part of the country Brian. Now that you say it looks like a frog, I agree with you.

  23. Wayne - Oh yeah! At least one lifetime. My pleasure and I agree that they are incredible.

    Sallie (FTL) - You are welcome Sallie! Thank you so much for the nice words. I still have much to learn about that program.

    William Kendall - Those two words are a perfect description William. I hope you do get to visit there someday.

    Betsy - It sure is terrific. I agree with you about back (or high) country hiking. I also really enjoy going to those places solo. Thanks so much Betsy!

    #1Nana - Thanks! Snakes are a concern, but they want to avoid us also. We have rattlers around here also and they pretty much stay out of sight.

  24. That photo you stuck in because you couldn't find the other... it looks like a clay pipe stuck in the rocks. Very neat scenery, Pat. I hope to get out and do some exploring this summer... we'll see.

  25. Leovi - Thank you Leovi! It is my pleasure.

    Stewart M - Thanks Stewart! I think the public should have better access to some of these places, but until the mechanism for doing that is figured out, I will remain silent about locations.

    EG CameraGirl - I totally agree with you, the rest of the stuff is a bonus. As to the part about vandalism, I'm on the fence. Sometimes, I think the secrecy of a place can also contribute to vandalism. It's a slippery slope, that's for sure.

    Rosemary Nickerson - It does look like a horse and rider, but that is just some of the surface sloughing off of the rock. Pretty strange though. Yep, plenty of blue skies in the desert.

    Stickup Artist - I totally agree with you! It is a magical place. I felt it as a child and I still feel it today. It feels like I'm going back in time.

  26. mshatch - Thanks! I agree about it being a shame. It all depends on what kid of rock and where they did it.

    Lovkyne - One of them looks like a flying saucer. The horse and rider are natural (but I'll be taking another look very soon).

    weekend et coup de brosse - Oui, le désert est belle. Thank you Cath.

    robin andrea - It sure is beautiful. The heat of summer is just about here. That will shorten my walks there quite a bit.

    TS Hendrik - And the man who only wins the donut holes wins nothing... Thanks Tim, it's my pleasure. Say, remember when this was blog was more words than photos?

  27. altadenahiker - Why thank you Karin! The problem is that I have too many posts building up. One of these days I'm going to slip in some word only posts.

    M Pax - Thanks Mary! I'm glad you reminded me about that other photo. Summer is so mild where we live, that we usually stay closer to home. If we do go somewhere, we usually stick to the coast. I hope you get to do some exploring this summer!

  28. I'm as amazed by the photos, Pat, as I am by the fact that you and your wife were the only ones there. It must have felt extra sacred, maybe eerie too. I love the red rock and the fascinating shapes they form.


  29. such lovely rock formations, Pat! And the blue of the sky is in perfect mix with the brown of the rocks

  30. This is another amazing place you showed us through photos!

    You got me to watch "No Man's Land", the TV shows on History channel about people who live in the desert!

  31. I don't think we should ever apologise for being out there exploring the world instead of sitting inside blogging!! I really enjoyed this post and learned so much. Thank you for spotting and enhancing the pictographs.

    The landscape is so beautiful out there. I'd love to spend a day exploring without seeing any other humans.

  32. Rawknrobyn - I know what you mean Robyn. Maybe the best part (for me anyway), is the solitude of these places. Thanks Robyn!

    DEZMOND - I agree, they really go so good together.

    Icy BC - Thanks so much! I also watch that show. It isn't on often, but I look for it.

    Mandy Southgate - Thanks for stopping by and commenting! It is easy to get away from things out there. Thanks again..

  33. You know, I never cared for the desert until I hooked up with my mate 20 something years ago. I saw it as a place to drive through to get to something green. I've changed my mind. Am enjoying your desert jaunts via pixels

  34. Beautiful and desolate indeed - your photos are wonderful. I can't imagine trying to survive in that desert.

  35. Pasadena Adjacent - I am glad you are enjoying them. At least you drove through the desert, a lot of people drive around them.

    Al - Thanks Al! I hear you about survival. It may be a national park, but they do not provide any water, food, gas, etc.

  36. You really know how to find some interesting stuff.. Nat Geo needs to hire you (I think I said that once before).. You would be a great guide on TV

  37. Beautiful pictures, as always. You do such a good job with finding cool, little-known places. :)

  38. Fascinating Patty. Love the notion of people being there so long ago.

    All their stories lost, only a snippet of insight into how they lived.

    Being a lover of rocks etc you should come to central Australia - Uluru and the Olgas. Fascinating rock formations there - you would go nuts!

  39. Catching up with your latest findings, Patrick:) As always so interesting! Ever thought of getting an archeology degree and getting paid for your hobby? (it's never too late:):) )

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    1. Anonymous - Thanks so much for taking the time to look at the article, and for commenting on it. I hope you can see the area in person sometime.

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