Monday, November 5, 2018

Indian Graffiti .... Petroglyphs

They advertise that this hike is very strenuous and you should be in excellent shape to sign up.  Some people didn't read that part and had to be hefted up into the van by two people.  On the other hand, if you can get up INTO the van, you can probably walk the canyon where the petroglyphs live.  It is an amazing sight to see!!

It is a rather long process to get approved however, since this entire historical site is located on the China Lake Naval Weapons Station, meaning you have to provide all your personal information weeks in advance in order to go through a background check.  If you have anything sketchy, you will be denied.
We, meaning Dan St John, his wife Betsy and I, arrived in time for another check-in, signing a statement that said if we died, it was on us.  Luckily for me, one volunteer did not show up, so I was allowed to sit up front with the driver to offset any carsickness I would encounter.

Worst driver EVER!!!!  Luckily we had enough brakes by the end of that really steep hill to keep us on the road.  She hit the brakes going UP as well as down, keeping the van in the middle of the two lane road.  No problem until that big Mac Truck came at us!!!

But first ... we had to go through a check at the Naval Weapons Center gate.  Police were everywhere.  Thank goodness Dan put his knife in my car at the last minute, because we were all under threat of arrest and jail if we had not complied with the long list of rules.

They lined us up with only our ID, checking us off one at a time.  Then they began the van search.  My camera was in my backpack in the front seat.  SHOULD have been in the back.  I'm going to prison, I just know it!!

NO telephoto lenses.  Now I'm REALLY in trouble with my 28-300 lens.  Good thing it stayed put and didn't extend as he pulled it out of the bag, along with everything else that was in there ... lunch, wallet, keys, glasses, etc.

One lady brought her passport and had traveled a few too many places.  They threw her up against the van.  Not really, but they certainly did grill her for ten minutes.

We drove through weapons testing sites with targets everywhere under threat of death if we took a picture.  We all had to turn our phones completely off.  We weren't even allowed to take pictures of the dozen mustangs we saw sitting under some joshua trees or the two burros I spotted hotfooting it down a trail.

Well over an hour later we arrived, 30 minutes late due to the gate delay, the bad driving and the porta-potty stop where twelve people got in line not forty minutes from the bathroom at the museum.  That cut into our hiking time, so when the guide said are you ready, let's go, I jumped in line and we were off.
Back in the 1920's, ranchers discovered this site, adding an occasional initial here and there.  Since the Navy took over in 1945, it has been a protected historical site.  Seems funny to find the Navy in the desert.
Boy were there lots of pictures to be taken.  There are literally thousands of petroglyphs lining the walls from top to bottom.  
It definitely appears these people lived in this area, probably during the springtime when water was available.  No one really knows what any of these mean.  So here's my interpretation.  Those above look like marking the days to me.  There are hundreds of these dating back 1500 years.  

You can see lots of sheep like these, which no longer exist in this area .....
and what looks like elk except for that long tail.  The "experts" say anything with a long tail is a cougar, but that doesn't explain the horns.
Every single flat surface is covered with art.  I think some of these people were more artistic than others.  There are only two griffins in the entire 1-1/2 mile long canyon, this being one of them.  
This being the other.  The ones on the sunny side of the canyon were highly visible.  If you found one and waited a second, you would find twenty more.  
What's your guess??  Looks kind of like a waterfall falling into a pool at the bottom.  Who knows .....
That's when I found the ALIEN!!!  Big head, feelers coming from the top, three legs ..... right???
The canyon sloped downhill for a long ways, but it was an easy hike with only a few long jumps down over rocks.  Running out of time (our group was the first to hit the bottom of the canyon) our guide asked if we wanted to see the upper Northern portion, much older than the bottom.  Of course we said yes, and the rush was on.

We hiked that mile in a flash.  All those pumpkin patch miles really paid off.  Not only that, but I didn't get out of breath at the 5,000 foot elevation.  

The petroglyphs at the other end are much older, dating back 2,000-3,000 years they guess.  Although many look somewhat the same, you can definitely see the differences.  They are carved much deeper into the rock and have a different patina.
I have a few more to show you, but in the interest of keeping this blog shorter than the walk, I'll post the rest tomorrow, as well as our little trip to the Petroglyph Festival of Ridgecrest.  

In the meantime, the time change has occurred, causing chaos everywhere.  Once I've unloaded the rig, I'll be on the couch!!!


  1. After everything you had to do to get there, glad to read you got to see the Petroglyphs. Thanks for taking us along with your pictures. Enjoy the couch...:)

    Celebrating the Dance

    1. It was worth the not-my-best trip to see them, that's for sure.

  2. What a fun adventure and love seeing all those petroglyphs. Thats for the wonderful pictures.

    1. And I've got MORE pictures. They really are fascinating.

  3. Thank for the trip to see the Petroglyphs.
    That one you questioned looks like a ladder and a huge dead spider at the bottom! haha
    Imagination at large here!

  4. Very very interesting. Probably spent a half hour looking at your pictures. The picture before the waterfall(maybe the stairway to heaven) is really amazing. Maybe I am partial to blue. Looking forward to part two.

    1. They are fascinating to see in person, Peter. Definitely worth the trip.