Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hual-Cu-Cuish Village - Cuyamaca Mountains

About two months ago, I posted an article about Ah-Ha-Kwe-Ah-Mac Village in the Cuyamaca Mountains. I had stumbled upon some odd looking bedrock mortars that inspired me to look for more in the same area. It turned out, that what I had actually stumbled upon, was a "pre-historic" Yuman Indian village site, that was later occupied by the Kumeyaay Indians for centuries. After doing a lot of research, it appeared that I had merely scratched the surface. Now, I'm hiking around trying to find things that are being kept on the down-low, by two state parks and a national recreation area (for good reason). The subject of this post is the ancient village of Hual-Cu-Cuish.

I've found more sites (many more to discover) and will show them to you, but I won't tell you where they are. As always, the few landscape shots I include, may, or may not be in the exact same area as the village. Do not go searching based on them. We're talking about the desert and two mountain ranges. Both can be very unforgiving. Umkay?
In addition to the research, I've got a pretty good sense of where Indians made their villages and seasonal camps. However, I don't want you to think that I just walk right up to them. I only do posts on the successful searches. Believe me, I've spent many hours hiking and climbing and have found nothing. I have to admit that I also enjoy searching.

 Great scenery (that is in the area, but may or may not be on the site)

 This was taken on the site, but you can't expect me to look down all the time, right?

This was the first big chunk of rock we saw, at the potential village site. I could not have been happier. It had several cupules ground into the top of it. For those that don't remember, "cupules" are thought to be one of the oldest forms of rock art. 

It wasn't but a few more steps to a chunk of bedrock that had three "morteros" (mortars) and one "not sure," it could be a failed mortar or even a cupule. The most exciting thing about this spot, was the presence of a broken "mano" (pestle) in one of the mortars. I'm not so delusional as to think that the mano has been there for centuries, but it was still exciting to see it in there. There was another sitting on the ground (I'm looking for the photo). To find things like this, is proof that very few people have been here. If they had been, they might have become somebodies souvenirs. If you enlarge the photos, you can see that there are pottery shards and some stone flakes (from making tools and/or points) on the ground.

A handful of pottery shards. There were many more sitting on the ground. The clay in this area seems to be light, so the lighter shards are probably from pottery made in this area. The darker pieces are probably from pottery made in the desert, while the tribe was there during the cold months. If I'm wrong, or if I'm correct, I'll update with the clay names, or by deleting this part altogether.  

 More shards on the ground. We also saw a few small pieces of obsidian.

This was the most puzzling find of the day. This is a piece of pottery that appears to have been glazed both inside and out. I was under the impression that none of the Indians in this part of the state had glazed pottery. Maybe it's a chunk of glazed brick. Something else to investigate. In case you were wondering, we may pick some items up to look at, but then they get placed right back on the ground. 

Another chunk of bedrock with mortars ground into it. It is pretty clear that this rock and almost all other rock in the area has been damaged by the many wildfires that occur here. Notice the mano (pestle) in one of the mortars. Another surprise for us!

 A close up of grinding surface and the grinding tool. 

I think the little blue flakes are soapstone. There is some in the area and it could have made it's way here. They used it make things like arrow straighteners, pipes, etc. Soapstone carvings have also been found in the area. They probably traded soapstone to other tribes. Maybe for obsidian. 

 A grinding surface called a "slick." There were a few of these here.

This mortar was one of several that were hidden in the bushes. I'm sure that many more are buried in the dirt and covered by a thick blanket of leaves and muck.

A combo rock with mortars, Cuyamaca oval mortars and cupules

 Our audience!



  1. Pat, trust me - I'd never find that place!
    You made quite a find with that trip. Could've even had a Thanksgiving dinner from your audience.

  2. YIKES, keeping your nose to the grindstone looks like it would hurt!

  3. just amazing finds. i kind of get the chills thinking about the civilizations that lived there long ago.

  4. I'm impressed how you find these sites - it must take a lot of searching and a great eye.

  5. Like your approach and I'm glad you don't give out location info. I've come across mortar stones myself. They seem to always be atop large flatfish rocks that are kept low to the ground.

    So here's what I'm wondering about...I thought that Indians made there home in the desert during winter time and mountains in summer. Or maybe high alpine in the summer and lowland hills during winter? I wonder if these travels might have someone making there way from the Mojave desert to Catalina Island. And were there waring tribes in Southern California .

  6. I do agree with Al and I, too, am so impressed!! Awesome finds and captures, Pat, and I'm so glad you share them with us! Thank you!! Hope you have a great week!!

  7. I agree with Al and am impressed with how you find these sites and you do indeed have a great eye, Pat! I'm so glad you share with us! Thank you!! Hope your week is going well!!

  8. Cool find! Your tolerance and stamina amaze me.

  9. This place does not get much traffic, otherwise, someone would have done something with the grinding stone, that's a great find.

  10. Fascinating pictures. What did they grind in them...pinion nuts? Were they cultivators, hunter gatherers?
    Thanks for posting these, always an education.

  11. Beautiful shots... and what a location. I wonder what the turkeys make of people wandering around their neck of the woods?

  12. An interesting area you have to explore--and that's a bunch of turkeys... I could make a joke...

  13. Very interesting find Pat, nice shots and very cool to run into the flack of turkeys.

  14. This is fantastic Pat. I just love reading your blog and exiting these places with you. I think I'd find enjoyment in the searching too, as well as the finding.

  15. This is fascinating Pat! Well done for persisting in searching the site so thoroughly and finding those artefacts...

  16. You know, Patrick, from time to time I see round holes in rocks in Maine. I always thought they were a result of erosion by the sea. Next time, I'll take a picture and send it to you for verification. You are the expert around here. I love the photos of the wild turkeys!

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Really nice finds. And delicious looking turkeys. I always feel when they're out in a flock like that they're mocking me with their deliciousness.

  18. Great finds! I love the sky shots and the turkeys.. Have a happy weekend!

  19. Alex J. Cavanaugh - Those turkeys were very interested. They might have been spying on us.

    Brian - I think it would! That's why I never do it...

    TexWisGirl - I feel the same way. I always end up thinking the same thing, they did just fine without us. In fact, much better!

    Al - Thanks Al! I'm pretty good at it, but I know a few people who are better. I attribute their advantage to being much younger than I am. Probably much smarter also...

    Pasadena Adjacent - Many tribes had some "portable" mortars, but you are right, they are almost always in bedrock.

    Where various tribes lived, was pretty much dependent on their environment and what was available. If they had fairly consistent weather and a reliable water source, they didn't necessarily migrate at all and farmed. Many tribes (like the Kumeyaay) were primarily, hunter/gatherers. It was much easier for many of them to migrate between mountains and desert, because, they were very close. In addition, there really wasn't much else available to them and there was abundant food for them in both places. There is some lowlands between the mountains and the coast that some of them migrated to and/or lived on full time. That territory belonged to a different band of the same tribe. The tribes like the Kumeyaay, who did migrate, stayed on their own territory while doing so. Most of the coastal areas of southern California, were inhabited by different tribes. The Kumeyaay (aka as the Tipai) did at one time, have a sliver of their territory reach the ocean. It straddled the Tijuana River, around what is now the border between California and Baja California. It was still much easier for those living in what is now Northern San Diego County, to reach the deserts as it was much closer than the ocean area. At one time (in antiquity) their territory reached from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean. That would be in the Colorado Desert, rather than the Mojave. To the best of my knowledge, the Kumeyaay may have traded some items with tribes associated with Catalina Island, but they never lived there. The tribes generally associated with Catalina were up the coast a bit, where they were much closer to it. One other thing about Catalina. I believe the item most traded to others, by the Indians on Catalina Island was soapstone. The Kumeyaay had soapstone deposits of their own and quarried it for use and apparently for trade as well. I hope this answered your questions and didn't confuse you.

  20. Sylvia K - Thanks so much Sylvia! I am having a great week (at home for a change). Really enjoyed the rain we had this week, the first "real" rain since last February.

    Ms A - Thanks for the nice words! I get around pretty well for an old guy, but not compared to how I used to.

    Wayne (Woody), whatever - I'm sure you are right. Frankly, I'm surprised that anything at all is left in some places. Maybe people are learning to let others get the same thrill, as they did, while finding these things.

    Should Fish More - Thanks Mike! In this area they mostly ground acorns, seeds, grains, small animals, etc. They were primarily hunter/gatherers and when they moved down to their winter villages in the desert, they mostly ate agave, small game, etc.
    Thanks again, I'm glad you enjoy it.

    William Kendall - Thanks so much! It is a beautiful part of the country. Those turkeys didn't seen the slightest bit bothered by us, they were just far enough away and it seemed like there was always at least one with it's head up, standing guard. There were also several deer in the same area, but none of their photos came out well enough to post (not enough lens).

  21. Sage - You could! It wouldn't be the first bunch of turkeys I've been associated with.

    Jimmy - Thanks Jimmy! I felt a little guilty eating one of their kind a couple of days afterwards.

    Mandy Southgate - Thanks so much! Very nice of you to say those things. The searching does make it more worthwhile.

    Nat - Thanks Nat! I'm positive there are a lot more there, but I'd never dig for them.

    Rosemary Nickerson - Hi Rosemary! I am hardly an expert, but I would LOVE to see photos of what you've seen. Merry Christmas to you and your family also!

    TS Hendrik - Thanks Tim! They were mocking us also. I got my payback though. The turkey we ate for Thanksgiving, was knocked down, plucked, put in our fridge and cooked the next day. SO GOOD!

    eileeninmd - Thanks Eileen! I'm glad you liked them.

  22. Another very interesting and educational post from you. I learn something new about these cultures which are very unbeknown to me each time, so keep posting!

    And Kudos for the turkeys!

  23. You do find the most interesting places to explore. Amazing to see what's out there. Beautiful photos and a stunning piece of history.

  24. visualnorway - Thanks so much for the nice words. I'll keep posting them as long as I can find them.

    robin andrea - Thanks robin! There are a lot of these kinds of things up in your neck of the woods also.

  25. I love your pictures and adventures, and I love even more that you protect the sacredness of the areas that you find.

  26. Remarkable finds - and so surprising that they have not be wrecked!

    I would recommend Lightroom (which is a variant of Photoshop) above Photoshop itself.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  27. Absolutely fascinating! It must have felt curious to wander through other people's lives in this way. Quite amazing to just discover stuff like this, exposed to the elements and all. Over here, we have to dig!

  28. ❀⊱•.
    Magnífica série de fotos, acompanhada por explicações detalhadas.
    Amei a primeira foto... paisagem calma com um céu esplendoroso.
    Bom início de semana com tudo de bom!!!
    Beijinhos do Brasil.♪♬° ·.

  29. interesting finds. And I love the tree on top. :)

  30. In utter awe of your discoveries as always! Beautiful photos and thank you even more for sharing your research findings. I like thinking about these other lives and civilizations.

  31. Knowing the unforgiving enormity of our deserts as I do, I can't help but be royally impressed. I can't imagine how you find these sites. I too agree with you and all the other commenters. The sacredness far outweighs the historical value. We have a long history of proof that these sites would be ruined if made public. I'm glad it's you and the photos are amazing.

  32. Very interesting pictures with vestiges of the past !! really wonderful!

  33. Dear Friend, Just stopping by to say HI. Hope you are having a good December so far. This will be a very different kind of Christmas for George and me this year. But—all in all, we are both enjoying being together and sharing our love with each other. What more can we ask for!!!!

    Other than a post yesterday, I won't be blogging much until I start feeling better and get this knee/leg taken care of... I will try to at least read your posts (even if I don't comment)... I will however be posting off and on on Facebook (since it's so simple) if you want to check there when possible.

    Bet those turkeys wanted to know WHY you were there in THEIR area!!!!! ha.... I can feel your excitement finding all of this history. I certainly enjoy reading about all of your special 'finds'.

  34. Good exercise too! I guess all that searching makes the finds ever more special.

    Incredible that it's all just sitting out there like that. I hope other people are as trustworthy as you.

    A great array of shots too.

    Nice work mate.

  35. Baby Sister - Thanks so much Amanda! Sometimes, I think some of these places are over-protected and that causes problems.

    Stewart M - Thanks Stewart! Also thanks for the tip on Lightroom.

    Mike @ A Bit About Britain - thanks so much Mike. I'm sure there is much more to be exposed by digging, but not by me.

    Magia da Ines - Thanks for the nice words Magia. Very nice to see you!

    NatureFootstep - Thank you! I like that tree also...

  36. Sallie (Full Time-Life) - Thanks! I also like thinking about those things. I like it even better, when I'm in one of them.

    Stickup Artist - Thanks so much! This one is above the desert, but totally related to it. Sometimes, I think that keeping them secret, adds to the challenge for some vandals.

    Leovi Leovi - Thanks Leovi! Much history...

    Betsy - Hi Betsy! I hope you get that knee taken care of and back out there soon. I have two bad knees my self. One of them very bad. I ignore it and push on. Take your time. I'll still be checking your posts out on FB.

  37. Very interesting and beautiful landscapes. I love the tree on the first photo.


  38. Soapstone? Exciting - never seen blue soapstone! Am looking for pink soapstone/ I purchased a few soap stone pieces to sculpt from Holland (they had it from Brazil on one of the countries in that region) because the only site I could find soapstone near the USA was Canada (and 3x as expensive!)

  39. Do you know if there are still soap stone quarries in use (I assume these pics are still in CA?)
    Your sky pics are amazing - love the kind of blue (it's different in Holland -much lighter)

  40. Japy - Thank you Japy!

    jeannettestgermain - I probably should have said "blueish." I might be wrong about about it being soapstone. I'll know pretty soon. Follow this link to a soapstone dealer. I Googled it and several places came up. http://www.sculptor.org/Stone/Soapstone.htm

  41. Fascinating post, Pat! And I really appreciate your thorough research.

    " I have to admit that I also enjoy searching."

    I'm the same way. I really enjoy searching things out; finding the "history."

    That first photograph of the tree is gorgeous! And I love the ones of the turkeys!

    Well done!

  42. Interesting news on this amazing place and all the rocks.


  43. So you are the chosen one?
    What state perchance?

  44. Those are some serious holes. And all of those pottery shards must have been fun to find. You have so many great adventures.

  45. Those are some serious holes. And all of those pottery shards must have been fun to find. You have so many great adventures.

  46. Ron - Thanks so much Ron! It seems like I spend more time doing research than I do actually being out there.

    Nora - Thanks Nora! I also think it is interesting.

    goatman - I'm not sure if this is a real comment, or if it's spam.

    Sharon Wagner - It is fun to fine and I really enjoy it. Thanks Sharon.

  47. I had no idea turkeys traveled in a line. (My favorite turkey story: a family I knew moved to the country and among other things, bought a wild-type turkey to raise and then slaughter at Thanksgiving. Their little son Travis bonded with said turkey. They followed each other everywhere. Which meant no turkey slaughter, ever; I think it strutted the grounds for 10 years or more.)

  48. Another very informative post Patrick! I love your audience.

  49. altadenahiker - I love that story about the wild turkey dinner, that became a family pet instead. That is nice.

    If turkeys are in tall grass like this, they walk in a line, because they are following a game trail.

    Liz - Thanks Liz! I loved them also.

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