Monday, July 31, 2017

Porcupine Wash Petroglyphs - JTNP

The Pinto Basin is about 250 square miles of what most people would refer to as barren and desolate desert. The main park road skirts the edge of it, but rarely does a car stop for anything more than a quick glimpse around. At first glance, you would think it to be a very formidable wilderness. You wouldn't be wrong in the slightest bit. Especially so, during the summer months. This is the hottest and driest area in the park, and those conditions have cost people their lives. I believe three in the past year alone.

The basin is outlined in red. The three surrounding mountain ranges are also desolate. It's hard to believe now, but this area was once lush, swampy, and even had water flowing through it. Clearly, that was a long time ago.

In almost all cases in the desert, where there was water, there was also people. It was no different here. They didn't leave a lot of evidence, but they did leave some! We'll get to that in a minute. First, a few pics of the beautiful (in my eyes) scenery.

embiggen this one




Now to the petroglyphs. We were traveling down Porcupine Wash (still in Pinto Basin), keeping this rock jumble on our right. Our destination is that dark rock (that looks like Pac-Man) just to the left of center.

 Close

 Closer

 There! If you saw my last post, you will see that the petroglyphs on this rock very much resemble the ones included there. These are in much better condition. In additions to the barbells, please note the faint "sunburst" image near the brush on the right side of the photo.

 There was also a nearby rock shelter. There was soot on the overhanging rock to the right. I don't know when this spot was last used, but I'm pretty sure it was a long long time ago.

 My favorite find of the day was this fossilized shell. I believe it's a freshwater snail (fossil) I was amazed that it was still intact. I moved it into a safer spot and hope it survives for a lot longer.


 In the middle of this photo, you can see my wife exploring.

 I believe this rock material is called Hornblende. 



 It wasn't easy getting into the middle of this jumble of rocks, but there I am.

Yours truly...

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Mammal fossils relating back to the stone age have been found in the Pinto Basin. Also, traces of very early human presence.


64 comments:

  1. Hard to believe it once had water. Good of you to leave that fossil behind.

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  2. You are right, spectacular scenery in the desert but so desolate and hostile, and to me, used to green fields and tall trees, quite frightening. Just how hot was it that day? Finding the petroglyphs and the soot on the rock brings us closer to the ancient families who made their home there. Fascinating.

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  3. ...a beautiful place, but not much washing going on.

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  4. Once again you show us a fascinating, and to me at least, very strange landscape. Are the rocks formed by ice and/or water? Some of them look very rounded (suggests water) while others are more edgy. I liked the sun symbols, but I wouldn't be caught in the sun for too long here!

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  5. Such an interesting place and even Pac-Man had to check it out!

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  6. Alex J. Cavanaugh - I know what you mean about the water. Apparently, there was a LOT of water there at one time. Thanks Alex!

    Shammickite - A lot of people share your assessment of the desert. That makes me happy, because there are no crowds! I believe it was about 90F. I agree with what you said about the ancients who once lived there.

    Tom - HA! You are right about that Tom.

    visualnorway - Thanks Rune! Most of the rock shapes were formed while underground from water, pressure, etc. Now on the surface, they continue to erode. The ground is pretty much covered with decomposed granite.

    Brian - Yep! I wonder where the broken out chunk of rock ended up? I didn't see it.

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  7. Pac-man is a good description. The other thing that came to mind was Kermit the frog's mouth. That's a pretty amazing find, if only those that left them knew how fascinating they would be to a future generation.

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  8. Wayne - Maybe even more like Kermit's mouth. Yeah, these things even have been fairly mundane to them.

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  9. I see giant lizards, turtles and laughing fish in some of the rock shapes :)

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  10. Beautiful scenery again, but this looks very barren.

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  11. I like the pac man description, the petroglyphs were indeed similar to those in your last post, the sunburst is an excellent addition. Moving the fossil to a safer location is something a lot of people would not have done, nice job my friend.

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  12. Your photos sure make the area look beautiful!!! I'm not a big desert person but do appreciate the unique beauty of the desert. And your pics show it off well!!!

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  13. DEZMOND - A laughing fish! That's a good one.

    Al - I agree! Barren, yet beautiful.

    Jimmy - Thanks Jimmy! When I first saw that rock the Pac Man noise started clanging around in my head. I loved finding that fossil. It made me imagine what it was like there when there was a lot of water.

    TheChieftess - Thanks Kathryn! For not being a desert person, you sure have been spending a lot time there lately!

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  14. Hello, I love these desert landscapes and the rock formations. The Pac-man is a great description. The petroglyphs are cool finds and a great fossil. Enjoy your day!

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  15. Another spectacularly beautiful desert journey. I so appreciate seeing this through your eyes.

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  16. Wow - so much history there! And beauty.

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  17. eileeninmd - Hi Eileen! I feel the same way about these places.

    robin andrea - Thanks Robin! It is my pleasure.

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  18. Desolate, yes, but quite beautiful!

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  19. William Kendall - I totally agree!

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  20. I heard on the news that 2 people are lost in Joshua Tree park, I hope that they get found after reading about the heat and the dry conditions.

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  21. Shammickite - Yes, that is a terrible thing. I heard that they are changing the search from a rescue, to a body recovery. Something doesn't seem right about this whole thing.

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  22. Great visit. Hard to imagine flowing water there all those eons ago! Love the pics.

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  23. Very cool to find that fossil1 There are probably not paths or road maps - is that why people get lost here?
    Many thanks for sharing this trip to Joshua Tree with All Seasons! Thank you for the birthday wish! Yes, aren't grand kids always cute? Am finally going to meet a few bloggers this week:)

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  24. The desert environment offers so much for our imagination. The rocks do seem to remind us of things we know and that's a great thing. The Pac-Man rock makes you wonder where the missing piece is. I come away from your blog with questions and most don't have any answers. The great wonders of the world and you are right in the middle of one. Wonderful photos Pat and keep on exploring. It's what life is all about, isn't it.
    Have a wonderful week and thanks again.

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  25. Bee Bee - It really is hard to imagine. Right up until I saw that fossilized shell. Thanks Barb!

    jeannettestgermain - It was cool! There some in the more visited areas. Trails like this one aren't used very much and tend to disappear in washes. It's mostly about keeping your wits about you and being prepared. Yep, grandkids are usually cute. I just spend the whole day running around with one of mine (8 year old boy). It was fun.

    bill burke - Thanks so much Bill! You sure are right about there being more questions than answers. I totally love the wild places and will continue to spend time in them, as long as I can.

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  26. The landscape is indeed spectacular Pat. The thing that worries me when I see yourself and wife exploring the rocky landscape, getting right in there, wouldn't there be snakes and spiders hiding under the rocks? That worries me a lot ☺ Gosh it doesn't seem very hopeful for the two lost at Joshua Tree, it's the same here, the conditions in the great outback has claimed many a lost hiker/traveler.

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  27. PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks Grace! Don't be worried. There are rattlesnakes there, but during the cooler months you don't really see them. During the warmer months, when they are active, they will usually give you a warning if you get close. You still have to watch where you step and reach. I'm not worried about spiders at all. The vegetation is the biggest problem for me. Everything that grows seems to have spikes, thorns, barbs, hooks, and other hazards. Having said that, a while back my wife came so close to stepping directly on a rattlesnake. Fortunately, they really don't want to bite you.

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  28. Fantastic shots Pat. you could put a book together of all the wonderful sites you've visited.
    Good for you moving the snail shell. Have to say, it would be tempting to take it. Or a rock or two. I do like the idea of history living with me. But I also think its best to leave it as you found it. Or even in better shape.
    Great photography. And information.

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  29. Cool fossil find. I love that one cropping of rocks where the one rock looks cleaved. Then extra interesting to find petroglyphs on it.

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  30. Pat, I read a few stories how people where lost on their desert hikes. Some of them were very experienced hikers . That is so unfortunate what happened to two hikers in Joshua Tree, I hope so much that they will be found and alive.

    I enjoyed as usually your photographs and your new adventure. And I was very surprised that you found the fossilized shell. I didn't expect it also.

    Great adventure, great photos and very enjoyable post!

    All the very best to you, Pat.

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  31. Anthony J. Langford - Thanks for the nice words Anthony! While finding things like fossils, and arrowheads is really cool. Once you get it home, it quickly becomes just a rock in your socks drawer.

    M Pax - Imagine what it took to split that rock. I'm pretty sure that the missing piece is right next to the rock, but underground. It would have been covered by sand and decomposing granite washing downstream a LONG time ago. Thanks for the comment Mary.

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  32. Wow those were neat. - That rock did look like Pac-Man from a distance. I thought one of the formations looked like a lizard and another a turtle. - Such a neat area. How cool to find that shell. It's neat you moved it to a safer place.

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  33. Kaya - Hi Kaya! Thanks so much for all the nice words. The search is going into it's second week. I'm amazed that they are still calling it a rescue at this point. Hope you are having a nice weekend.

    Ida - It seems like the more you look at the rocks, the more things you can see. The way I found that shell, is I almost stepped on it! Thanks Ida!

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  34. Nice pictures - shame about the walkers - I dont suppose that people call it the wild for no reason.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  35. Incredible photos, as always Pat!
    A beautiful but harsh place... very dangerous for anyone lost out there.
    I do so hope it is a rescue rather than recovery operation....

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  36. This is an amazing part of the country. The rock formations always grab my attention and you captures some awesome scenes..

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  37. Stewart M - It is a shame! You are so right, wilderness is a great for places like this. When I was very young and granny started regularly taking us to wilderness areas, the first things she taught us, was how NOT to get lost. And if we did get lost, how to figure out where we were, and how to get "un-lost." Thanks Stewart!

    Nat - Thanks Nat! I'm still hoping also, but it's now been over a week... very sad.

    betty-NZ - It is amazing and has so many photo-ops available. Thanks Betty!

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  38. This is wonderful! What a history within that one fossilized shell -- the petroglyphs are wonderful; it's always so amazing to me to think of how people have always wanted to communicate their thoughts and knowledge to others. I saw the sunshine on the rock -- that symbol makes me smile.

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  39. The desert is unforgiving. Too bad. Just recently at Whites Sands, New Mexico two french tourists got lost and died. I know the feeling. Not dying luckily but getting lost. Dori and I were lost at Dead Horse Point, Utah. I know better now. Lesson learned. When you go out on your excursions...do you ever get scared or lost? You guys seem to go pretty remote looking for these wonderful petroglyphs and fossils. 👌🏻🙂

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  40. Sallie (FullTime-Life) - Thanks Sallie! Based on the fact that these petroglyphs are along the side of a wash, and that a wash is very likely path for travel, I'm thinking there must have been an ancient trail along this route. Maybe these symbols were "trail markers" of some type. Unfortunately, nobody really knows.

    Sandy - Hi Sandy! You are right, it seems like everything in the desert can hurt you. The weather, the plants, and the creatures. I was taught very early on, how NOT to get lost, or as my granny used to say, "become lost proof." In a general sense, I always know where I'm at. If I'm not familiar with an area, I examine a Topographic map before I go. That way, I'll have an idea of what I'll run into no matter which way I go (if lost). I also usually have at least one compass with me. I have a good idea of which direction is which naturally, but if I know what direction I'm headed in, it's easy to find the direction to return. I also try to find prominent landmarks to orient with. Plus, and maybe most important. I ALWAYS take the time to look behind me as I go. That way, I'll recognize where I've been later. I think not doing that is the cause of a lot of people getting lost. The only time I've really been scared, was when I've had to climb up or down something like boulders, or a dry waterfall. To me, breaking an ankle, or leg is far worse than becoming disoriented.

    I'd say that my wife and I take more chances in our jeep, than when hiking. However, when we do that, we are always prepared to be stranded for a couple of days, or to hike our way back over long distances (if needed). Whew! That was long answer.

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  41. Wonderful rock formations and interesting petroglyphs.

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  42. Rajesh - Thanks Rajesh! I agree with you.

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  43. so much of history is hidden in that area. Very interesting!

    Just hope the lost people will be found.

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  44. NatureFootstep - I agree with you on both parts. I also hope that these two people don't become part of that hidden history.

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  45. I bet you wish you could have stumbled onto the poor hikers and saved them. If anyone could it would be you with all of your remote hiking. Keep us posted.

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  46. Sharon Wagner - Thanks for the nice words Sharon. The main thing I'm missing along those lines, is "first responder" medical training. These S&R guys can do just about anything short of surgery in the field. I keep telling myself that someday I'm going to invest in the training, but it probably won't ever happen. The couple is still missing, and the search has "officially" ended. Local authorities and volunteers will still be looking for a while. I still think something is very hinkey about the whole thing.

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  47. Fantastic images, the stone or should I 'boulders' are beauties. I love it.

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  48. Great pictures as usual Pat. A couple of corrections: (1) the fossil shell looks like an ammonite (they became extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs); and (2) hornblende is a mineral, not a rock; the rock looks to me like a hornblende schist.

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  49. Bob Bushell - Thanks Bob! I feel that every time I go there.

    Dennis Hodgson - Had I known it wasn't a fresh water snail, I might have stuck it in my pocket. Geez, I thought I was doing pretty good just knowing that it was hornblende. I'm betting that you are the only geologist who read this post. Thanks Dennis! I appreciate both the compliment, and the correction.

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  50. Always a good read!

    I laughed at the pacman rock. IT SO WAS! And also a little bit Kermit...OK it might just be me there.

    I was just reading about the lost hikers. I too think it sounds a little fishy, but who knows? The desert's a big place. Didn't some other dude go missing out there a few years ago and he was never found?

    You guys be careful out there.

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  51. VEG - Thank you so much! The more I look at that rock, the more I think it looks more like Kermit, than Pacman. A lot of people have gone missing there, some they've found, and some they haven't. Some people think "Yucca Man" got them. Yucca Man = Bigfoot in the desert. We will be careful!

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  52. Lady Fi - Thanks so much Fiona! I feel the same way.

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  53. What an amazing place! It must be so cool to find petroglyphs and fossils.

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  54. Pat, anytime I read one of your posts, I always enlarge your photographs so that I can see all the detail. As always, these are AMAZING!

    The one of the closeup petroglyphs is incredible!

    Love the fossilized shell as well. It looks in perfect shape.

    I sure hope they find the missing couple.

    Always a joy to read your posts, Pat. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  55. James - Thanks James! It is an amazing place. It is also amazing to find these places. Even if I've seen one before, when I see it again at a later date (sometimes decades later) I always become totally thrilled and amazed.

    Ron - Thanks for all the nice words Ron. I really do appreciate it. Almost three weeks for the couple. Something isn't right about the whole thing.

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  56. Interesting finds. I really like all the shapes created by the stones too. It's sometimes hard to believe they aren't man-placed.

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  57. Halcyon - Mother Nature does an amazing of displaying her art! Thanks for the comment!

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  58. Did they ever find out what happened to the missing couple?

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  59. Sallie (FullTime-Life) - It's now been 4 weeks. No way they are there.

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  60. I love the desert but not in the hot month of the summer! What a great post! I would love to explore there about November :)

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  61. Carolyn Ford - Thanks Carolyn! I like it all times of the year, but I find that I'm not out there as much in the summer.

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  62. What a beautiful area! That shell is amazing! I wonder how long it's been around...

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    1. Hi Amanda! It is beautiful and very remote. My friend (who is a geologist) says that it looks like an ammonite, and that they became extinct about the same as the dinos. That would make it somewhere round 60 million years old. Plus or minus several million years of course. HA!

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