Mesquite has an ATV club which rides about every other week on a group basis (about every other day on an individual basis). Charles Cox, of C&K blinds, heads the group of intrepid souls who are nearly all retired or close to it.
I rode with them today, first to see the sights of the area, but second to inventory what damage the BLM has done to the ATV trails. I mentioned previously how the locals are up in arms over all the closures this year. [A complete Google Earth file of the ride is here --> Kokopelli Ride 2]
We trailer'd down to the Whitney Junction Trailhead. From there the main trail runs Southwest into the Black Butte. Off the main trail there are side trails which run usually Southeast into the cliffs where petroglyphs reside.
This year, in their infinite wisdom, the BLM has contracted with a bunch of yokels from an "institute" to basically block and "erase" all of the side trails. That makes as much as a 4 mile hike into the glyphs! Basically eliminating them from most of the clubs abilities. Talk about age discrimination! If the mayor and council think this is going to help their community they perhaps should wake up and smell the coffee!
The trail into First Rock was still there and we were able to see the petroglyphs at that site. You do need to walk several yards into the alcove in order to see them, but the glyphs are still there and have definitely NOT changed or been harmed since my several visits last year.
The Falling Man [aka Whitney Hartman] area was a different story, however. The trail has been blocked back to the main road. We wanted to try and hike in but again in their infinite wisdom, the "institute" goofballs made no place to park the rigs where they want you to stop. Visitors had begun making an ad hoc parking place all over the surrounding area at the entrance.
The site is one of the most celebrated due to the peculiar glyph - which is obvious once you see it. A local school principal (retired) has spend many years working on deciphering some of them and writes about the event in his book: "The offense of the evil man." Basically, a recalcitrant Indian whose actions had killed several people and made others ill, and who couldn't be controlled any other way, was punished by being thrown off the cliff.
We made it down to where the BLM has closed off the 21 goats trail but were able to find an alternate way up a very rocky wash. Again, it was just as how I had left it last year. No change, no damage! These glyphs are noted for the sheer number of goats in a line. Goats were used to represent people or groups of people and their actions.
From there we found one of the areas largest cisterns. It's mostly a dry hollow inside rock borders, but after a rain contains probably thousands of gallons of water.
We followed the trail down into a major wash and found, again, that the BLM had blocked off the trail up to the Khota Circus trailhead. Those glyphs have already only been observable after a fairly long 2.5 mile desert sand hike down into a lower canyon and back. Now, they have chocked on an additional 2 miles, making it close to 4 miles round trip from the blockaid sign.
We followed the wash toward the lake and around the flats into the lower end of Mud Wash. From there we rode up into the Middle Gold Butte area and the Oasis.
As I've mentioned before, this area is a favorite because of the Devil's Fire formations. We were able to hike to the petroglyphs but could barely see them due to the light at 4 o'clock in the winter.
We made it up the wash, onto Gold Butte road and back up to the Whitney Junction trailhead just before dusk. A long ride ... a bit frustrating ... and tiring (but it's a good tired.)