Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hollow Boulder Rock Art Site - Joshua Tree National Park

Here is another hidden and secret rock art site in Joshua Tree National Park. It is one of my favorites. Not because of the amount of rock art there, but because of how cool the spot is. If you don't mind hiking, climbing and finally crawling to get to it. I don't believe there is an official name for this spot and as usual, there was only a few references to it on the internet. None of which included directions to it.

I'll tell you right where it is! It is located in yet another jumbled mass of boulders between two of the thousands of rock formations in the park. (sorry, I couldn't help myself). Most of these places are talked about so little and kept so secret, that it's hard to know enough about it, to even tell if you've found a clue, in something you read or heard. The work really begins once you think you might have an idea where to look.

On another brutally cold day, I'm in Joshua Tree with my traveling companion and wife, who is dressed like "Lawrence, of Antarctica."

After awhile they all start to look the same.

You have to be very careful sticking your head inside of these places. There just might be something waiting for you in there. Probably not though, or maybe just a rattlesnake or mountain lion.

Or even worse, it might be a old creature with a camera, taking a photo of you taking a photo of it.

And then enhancing the photo with DStretch.  Okay, let's get serious.

Because of the isolated location of this spot and the lack of any other habitation clues in the immediate area, this hollow boulder is probably a Shaman's power spot or Shaman's cave. The diamond pattern usually represents a rattlesnake and possibly the Shaman's "helper" animal. As to the tic marks, your guess is as good as mine  In the top of the photo there is a cupule or depression that was somehow used to start fires. How exactly that was done, is another mystery.  If it is a Shaman's cave, the symbols were likely painted while he was in an altered state of consciousnesses and represent what he saw in his "mind's eye."

Same photo after enhancement of the pictographs

In many cases, rake like designs represent rain. I'm not sure if it still represents rain when enclosed in a box, but I'm trying to find out.
Enhanced version

Do these tic marks represent a tally of something? Or maybe the crack in the boulder (when combined with them) completes another rake like rain symbol.

A star or sunburst is always a great thing to find, because the meaning would seem to be obvious.

More snake symbols. Most likely a sidewinder.

This was the only petroglyph we found in the cave.

A better photo of my wife in full-on winter gear.
I recently said that I was going to start posting twice a week to get caught up. I did it for a week! I'm just too busy doing things to get posts up about those things I'm busy doing. Figure that sentence out! 

Here is a perfect example...  At this moment we are camped for two weeks on a mountain ridge overlooking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We'll be going down the mountain and into AB at least a couple of times. I want to show my wife a couple of the rock art sites (closest to us) and maybe take a look at that bus. We are also very close to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. You might remember my posts relating to the Stonewall mine, the spot with about 100 bedrock mortars and our hike up a mountain to the site of a hundred year old bi-plane crash (and memorial to it). There is much more to see and report about from there. I almost forgot about the closest spot. It is Lake Cuyamaca. There are also things to do and see around there. These things represent only a fraction of what is easily available to us from where we are. I will easily be able to generate several blog posts on the above items. THAT is why I'm so far behind on my postings.  So please bear with me...



  1. Great post - although when I got to the very end I was surprised to find you had a bear with you!

    I may have missed something!

    Cheers - Stewart M

  2. Take your time Pat. There's no rush.

    By the way, I may have missed it, but I don't recall you mentioning the substance that has been used to create the pictographs. Ochre?

  3. More amazing rock art, thanks Pat! It does look cold but worth braving the elements to see such sights :-)

  4. Stewart M - Thanks Stewart! Yep, we were both pretty bundled up. Not used to it being that cold.

    Dennis Hodgson - I'd like to take my time, but in the overall scheme of things, I don't have enough of it.
    The pigments used to create pictographs varies, depending on location. Some of the common substances used include: Various oxides (including ochre), chalk charcoal, clays, soft rocks, etc. To make these powdered pigments into paint, they had to be mixed with some type of binder. Water, fat, animal blood, plant juices, urine and other liquids were used for that purpose.

    Nat - Thanks Nat! Yes, it is worth it, but spring and fall are much easier than summer and winter.

  5. Pat I enjoyed your adventure so much. I smiled when I read that your wife was dressed as Lawrence, of Antarctica. Sometimes I am dressed also like this when I go into mountains. in autumn.

    That was one great hiking trip!!!

  6. I do love the trips you take us on, Pat, and the history/information you share with us!! The next best thing to being there myself!! Have a great weekend!!

  7. i love your finds! and your secrets. :) your wife is so cute!

  8. it's funny how the setting looks like it's scorching summer, until you see your missus in winter outfit

  9. Another amazing place you show us. Greetings.

  10. I still can't get over the size of those things!

  11. Fantastic pictures. Always enjoy looking at the rock art. I think it would make for a cool coffee table book.

  12. Good photos, I like this place to fill the soul with peace, beautiful pictograms!

  13. Lawrence of Antarctica - funny!
    You found quite a few very distinct markings. No, wouldn't just stick my head in one of those openings. I've been close enough to a rattlesnake to hear its rattles - scary stuff.
    And nothing is colder than the desert in winter...

  14. What a rocky jumble to hike through. I like the way you've worked with those images.

  15. Kaya - Thanks Kaya, I also enjoyed it. Being very cold is not a fun thing.

    Sylvia K - Thanks Sylvia! Very nice of you to say those things.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks Theresa, for all three!

    DEZMOND - I've been told that before and it really doesn't look much different unless there is snow on the ground.

    Japy - Thank you Japy!

  16. Brian - They are huge and there are more of them than you can count.

    TS Hendrik - Thanks Tim! You are so funny! I see if they still carry them at IKEA.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! It really does do that. I love the feeling there.

    Alex J. Cavanaugh - I've had a few uncomfortable encounters with them myself. I ALWAYS have a snake bite kit with me when we are out and about. Bitter cold in winter and deadly hot in summer.

    William Kendall - Thanks! That program is awesome. Sometimes, when trying to get from A to B involves climbing over the jumble. That always reminds me that I'm not as spry as I once was.

  17. That is another amazing place. Your wife looks very well prepared for the winter!

  18. I'm so happy for you two... You NEED to get out there and hike and search for wonderful places while you are young and healthy enough to do it. Blogging can wait!!!!!!! Keep on having fun!!!

    Love this place you visited on today's post.. Isn't it wonderful to visit a place that has not been bothered or ruined by lots of other humans??? You found an awesome place... (I would be afraid of snakes though --or creatures taking my photo from the other side.... ha ha


  19. Hello Pat, the rock art is a cool find.. What a neat place to visit..Your wife looks cold and cute.. Have a happy weekend!

  20. Enjoyed this and last post so much Pat, what an exciting time you two are having. Its almost certain that we would never find this spot using Google maps:) I always love it when you pop in to Perth, I know I have a treat to catch up over here. Your wife looks gorgeous all snuggled up in her 'keep warm' gear, nothing worse than exploring chilly :)

  21. Looks like a lot of fun! Love the pictures!

  22. Don't worry about posting on a schedule, keep sharing these treasures with us when you can. It really makes you wonder what these sites were used for and the meaning of the drawings. The 'rain in a box' makes my head spin.

  23. Don't worry about your rate of posting, Pat, just enjoy it all. The more you do, the more we do when you post these. I really like the DStretch pictures. It's amazing that you can do that. Stay warm and I look forward to more of your adventures.

    PS I may've mentioned this before. Anza Borrego is where an (ex) boyfriend got us stranded overnight in in 4 wheel drive piece of crap, in knee-deep mud. I broke it off with him as soon as I was home safe and sound.

    PPS It's a beautiful spot, though, with very cool caves. Smiles.

  24. Those photos are cool even if they DO make me feel like I ate those mushrooms I found in the woods, again... :)

  25. Al - Thanks Al! Yep, she was feeling pretty warm.

    Betsy Adams - Thanks so much Betsy! I'm young alright, compared to a mountain. It is nice seeing seldom visited spots.

    eileeninmd - Thanks Eileen! It's kind of a shame that most people haven't had the chance. You have a happy weekend also.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks Grace! You are right about the map. I'm pretty sure that most of these places aren't on ANY maps. I feel the same way about Perth. Someday, I really want to go that amazing city.

  26. Cherie Reich - Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. Congratulations on your latest book!

    Wayne - thanks for saying that. I really am so far behind though. The sites like this were used by a Shaman to do their communicating with the dream world while in a trance state (usually via peyote or something like that). It all makes my head spin.

    Rawknrobyn - Thanks Robyn. I really like sharing what I do, I guess that is why it bothers me. And that doesn't even include written posts. I don't remember your Anza-Borrego adventure. I love it there. Where you guys at the "mud caves?"

    VEG - HA! I know EXACTLY what you mean. Nice seeing you here!

  27. It's quite a pleasure to experience the desert vicariously through your photography and tales. Thanks for sharing these essays.

  28. It's quite a pleasure to experience the desert vicariously through your photography and tales. Thanks for sharing these essays.

  29. You two are quite adventurers, and the pictography are really nice to see!

  30. Post when you can! That's what I plan to do from Alaska. We are old and need a rest day every so often, so my hope is to need those when we have decent wifi nearby. Like today. Yesterday we hike glaciers. Today the Seward library is open and has free wifi.

    I love how you can enhance the pictographs digitally. Really helps to appreciate them. Enjoy the desert, both of you!

  31. I have never seen anyone get so much out of stones, but then your findings warranted all the pictures (and I bet you shot at least ten times as many). These where no Rolling Stones, but maybe you are? :-)

    Thank you for the nice comments!

  32. What a gorgeous part of the world!


  33. That is great that you are out having adventures and too busy for blogging. What a rock behemoth! And you never miss any petroglyphs. Cool.

  34. I love that you and your wife have so much fun together. And she looks adorable as Lawrence of Antarctica. :)

  35. The Geezers - It is my pleasure and I thank you for enjoying them!

    IcyBC - Thanks! Not nearly as adventurous as I used to be. Unfortunately, when I was younger I never took photos...

    Sallie (FTL) - It sounds like you have a plan. It also sounds like you are having an great trip! We are currently perched on our favorite mountain ridge look over the desert. There is currently a major wind advisory and we are trying not to blow away.

    RuneE - HA! You are so right about taking many more photos than is necessary. I would never do that if I was using film. Yep, we are Rolling Stones and we still might have gathered some moss.

  36. Pearl - Hi Pearl! It sure is. I'll be over soon spending some time catching up there.

    Sharon Wagner - Thanks Sharon! I'm going to do a post soon about the largest known free-standing boulder in the world.

    Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! She did look pretty cute (and warm).

  37. It looks cold but the scenery is fantastic!

  38. I think your life sounds quite delightful.

  39. ladyfi - It was both those things!

    altadenahiker - I'm not complaining! I wish I didn't have to sleep.

  40. You make your deserts so interesting and intriguing. And lovely.

    Trying to figure out if I can make a visit to Joshua tree part of my possible itinerary when I cross the pond next year

  41. Sounds like you are gathering tons of material for us to look at later in the year. Enjoy your time taking photos and gathering information!

  42. Mynx - Thanks so much! It would be very tough for me if I was in your shoes. Where to go and what to do.

    EG CameraGirl - I'll still try to manage at least one post per week. Maybe next year, I'll post all drafts! Nah.... I wouldn't do that.

  43. Ha ha. I recently started posting twice a week to try keep a balance between my London / Kent posts and my travel posts, both of which has a different set of readers. But live gets in the way, doesn't it???

    This is another fabulous post. I know I might not ever discover one of these hidden places but it would be enough to visit the area just once in my life at least!

  44. That first photo looks like a dream, and your wife is adorable.
    Happy continued trails, Pat.

  45. Love seeing these photos. Always a grand journey to stop by here and take a look at what you've been seeing.

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