Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interpreting Petroglyphs: "Goats"

I have a friend who keeps telling me that "I ain't no stinkin' botanist" right before he gives me the answer to a botanical question.

So, keeping in mind that "I ain't no petroglyph expert" here are some things that I've learned about "goats," using a glyph from the outside face of the cliffs at Falling Man as an example (see photo); and, relying heavily on information from Native American LaVan Martineau in The Rocks Begin to Speak

[The book is still in print, new or used at Amazon. If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the above link at no extra cost to you. A "thank you" to help keep this site going and the trails coming.]

Again, it's difficult to keep repeating information in print, so see previous posts for background. Specifically like: Logandale - Hungry Man.

The use of "goats" as substitutes for groups of people, began very early in the evolution of sign language and glyph writing, in order to depict the lateral motion which can't be shown well using human stick figures. These are actually nondescript body shapes using "signs" as appendages which make them "look" like various animals such as deer, goats, sheep, dogs etc..


Location: This glyph cluster is on a prominent, east facing, obvious, rock face which is observable by all and suggests it being a "trail marker" of sorts.

Natural Features: Prominent are the natural rock cracks and ledges which surround the three figures in a fairly flattened circle, with two "pointy" ends. The two top edges are formed by "ledges" in the rock. The right-bottom is formed by the cliff edge and the left-bottom, although now broken away, was also clearly a crack. Such a flattened, pointy (football-like) circle is the sign for "objectionable place," or "bad area" and may have caught the original author's eye as he climbed through the tunnel. This gives the "theme" of what the author was going to write.

Another crack is clear, running across the "circle" and pointing nearly northeastward. It makes a rock incorporation which points directly at the Bunkerville mountain range.


Technique: There are numbers of other glyphs on the rock face, with different amounts of patinization indicating different authors at different times. These, in this cluster, are pecked quite deeply and seem "newer" than others.

Symbols: The top goat is obviously facing in the direction of the natural crack (the gap toward Mesquite). Its body has the pointy-oblong shape of "objectionable area" and its tail is an upward, cup-shaped swoop. A shape which means fast, swift or with haste. The nose is elongated into a "pointing finger," indicating movement in the pointed to direction which is a little to the right of the mountain line, or through the Parashant area. It is the same size as the other "goats" (equal sized groups) and above, possibly meaning "superior, ahead, first or past tense." The two horns are foreshortened and in the position of "empty, nothing here, gone" but not arched over the back like they would be after a long completed journey. There is, however, another "boomerang-like" line touching the back meaning "distant, or far to go."

The middle goat also has the "objectionable area" body and is facing toward Arizona and Utah. It's "pointing" nose is directed toward the third goat and its tail has a sharply bent, "crochet hook," shape which means "near or close." Probably indicating at least a desire, if not intent, to stay near the other group. Amplifying this is the way it's front legs are upward making the body appear in the up-tilted, "forward-slash" angle meaning "halt or stopped." Its horns are however, also in the "gone" shape which may mean they stayed with the other group for awhile but had to leave. One of them also shows the "distant" wide angle bend.

The right goat has had, or is having, a struggle. Its body is pointed on one end as "objectionable place" but chopped off on the other as "cut short, stopped or end." Its "pointing" nose is directed back (toward Lost City), most likely from the direction they have already come. If its top horn had been in a true right-angle it would have meant "turning NOT aside or determined." The rounded corner negates the meaning into "turned aside or abandoning the attempt." Its second horn is the shape of "distance, or long," its tail is either the curve of "missed" or the right-angle of "determined or made up my mind." Incredibly, even one of the hind legs is perpendicular under the body meaning "blocked" and is half-way up the body probably meaning "already begun."

Putting it Together

I have been one acquainted with the night.”
Robert Frost

Other glyphs: There are numerous other glyphs in the area as if the group stayed in the area for a long time, or returned often. There is, of course, Falling Man and all the glyphs relating to that unfortunate incident.

Possible Story: The migrating group had come a fair distance to arrive at this spot (where they knew there was water). The incident with the "bad" man left at least a portion of the group so debilitated that they couldn't go on, even though it meant they had to endure life-threatening summer heat, privation and possible death. Even their intent to go back was prevented or halted. A second portion attempted to stay near to the unfortunate group until it was either impossible or unnecessary and they finally "were gone." A third group went on ahead, possibly to get crops planted, obtain help or find sustenance.

This small cluster of glyphs contains a lot of information and is consistent with the story as a whole contained on other glyphs in the area. It tells of choices required during a terrible dilemma which would probably haunt them twice a year as they passed this way going back and forth.

Why Not Learn More

The book "The Rocks Begin To Speak" is probably the landmark text which opened this field of study to large numbers of people, and it is still in print, new or used at Amazon. Why not make your trips to the "Glyphs of Gold Butte" more meaningful by learning a few of the "meanings" of the glyphs you see? If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gastronomy: Eureka Seafood Buffet

We spent a "downtime" day beginning to put things back in boxes and close out Snowbird Headquarters.

Already getting nostalgic, we had to try one last "experience" at the Eureka hotel and casino's Friday night seafood buffet.

I think I've mentioned before that it is one of only two eating experiences in all of Mesquite which is worth the effort and doesn't make you sick. The other being Los Lupes Mexican restaurant.

The best travel quote of all time:
“If you don't knock it off, we'll turn this car around.”
Mom & Dad

Over the course of years we have tried them all. And, except for a couple of notable disgusting venues which we cannot forget, even in our sleep, we pretty much re-try them anew each year. We claim it is to give them another chance because they may have changed for the better; but, it's more likely that it's because snowbirds have trouble remembering from one year to the next.

Unfortunately for the Eureka, the recommendation does NOT extend to any other day of the week! It's terrible those days! On Friday's, however, the place draws the crowds like an "8 inch, split-tail, gold Rapalla" lure. You can't even get into the place!

Like the resourceful snowbirds that we are, however, we show them — we're there by 4pm!!! There's already a bit of a line, but nowhere near like what those poor souls who don't get hungry until the 6pm dinner-hour get for their trouble.

I'm told that they serve several thousand of the meals each month and that most of the population of St. George comes down for the lobster tails. That keeps the balance of trade more "balanced" because all the rest of the week Mesquite goes to St. George for dinner.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ride 25 - Toquop Virgin Beach

Oooh, this one was a quickie! In our continual quest to "get down to the river" we hadn't ridden Toquop Wash downward... so we did!   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 25 - Toquop Virgin Beach]

I don't think what we actually saw down at the river would be called a "beach" — but it was at least the "edge" of the river.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”
Dr. Seuss

The spring floods must have been bad around here. When we arrived they were working on putting back together the Riverside bridge which had all but washed out. Downstream, where we were, they were busy trying to "restore" and/or "reclaim" the area by replanting "mystery trees" inside plastic road cones.

The sound of the river was still there, however, and there's just something about eating lunch on the banks of a river. In our case, licorice nibs had to suffice.

We went back up the wash toward the I-15 bridge and explored several other trails to the west before returning to the trailer. A good ride for an afternoon which could be extended if you wanted to spend more time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ride 24A - Newspaper Rock Hike

This is another ride which needs to be split into two, not so much for distance as for things covered. The main goal was to hike to Newspaper Rock to replace photos which didn't turn out last year.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 24A - Newspaper Rock Hike]

A few weeks ago I blogged about a hike I took at Falling Man and about finding Newspaper rock 1. You see, this area contains many clusters of glyphs which have been poorly described and given confusing sets of names.

Much of the confusion is intentionally inflicted on us from "the WEB," where at least two authors I know of, try to obfuscate the truth under the name of cutting down the riff-raff visitors.

Some of these authors have only visited the area once or twice but have published "lookey what I found" photos under several names. One such "web-only" name is "Whitney-Hartman." That would be the name for this entire area; but, the people who live here only know this as "Falling Man." (Remember however only one tiny glyph is actually the "falling man.")

Another such confusing name is "Newspaper Rock" with several sets of directions on how to find it. There are actually two large panels which people call "Newspaper Rock." Both require bouldering around the cliffs and rocks, both are very large wall panels and both tell a coherent story which has been interpreted.

Verl Frehner, a local educator, has studied these glyphs extensively for many years and, using LaVan Martineau's work (The Rocks Begin to Speak) as a guide, attempted to decipher the two stories (as much as anyone currently living can.)

While the rock I spoke about in my previous post seems to be an account of how the group of native Americans came to be in the area, the panel on this hike, Frehner believes, is about a terrible incident which killed many of the tribe and caused most others significant hardship.

Dad and I visited with Verl last year and purchased his new book. [Both accounts are in print and available in Mesquite from Mr. Frehner or the local museum. I will probably explain some of them in a future post.]

The landmark is the newly created BLM blockade at the Falling Man trailhead. Ride past that a few hundred feet to another "wide spot" in the trail with an "in restoration" sign and a trail leading into the wash. That will be the hike trailhead.

Follow the trail and the wash south about 0.2 mi until it joins another wash going east. Watch carefully for washed out areas in the rocks which act as cistern's holding rain water.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by.”
Robert Frost

About 0.1 mile further the wash divides into two and there are petroglyphs in either direction. The main panel of Newspaper Rock (lower) is to the right, up another 0.1 mile. Watching carefully you can find several "marker glyphs" on rocks which point the knowing wanderer toward the main glyphs and waterholes.

Look up on the farthest cliffs (east) to see glyph clusters on several levels and surfaces. Just for bearings, although not accessible from this level, Newspaper Rock (upper) is up on the top bluff nearly directly behind these glyphs. And, Falling Man is behind that (to the northwest).

Bouldering up the wash to the right (east) of these glyphs there is an undercut which obviously has been used as a shelter. I did find one route which, to a more limber and skilled climber than I, might lead up to the upper bluff described in the previous Falling Man hike post.

Additionally, if you had taken the left-hand wash previously mentioned, you would not only have seen another small set of glyphs, but would have seen another climbing challenge at the far end which would lead eventually to the Falling Man trail area.

It's not a long hike but feels a bit longer due to all the bouldering and uneasy terrain you need to cross. However, taking the time has its rewards in finding glyphs and treasures each time you go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ride 23 - Clives Landing to Virgin River

HEY... we finally made it to the river! OK, we were aiming for the lake, but what the hey! [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 23 - Clives to "lake"]

This is our last week here at snowbird headquarters so we decided to take a quick ride down to see the lake (Mead) which we haven't seen since last year and which seems to have come up a bit.

We trailered to Clives Landing trailhead before realizing that we needed to go back to get the keys to the rig! Fortunately mom was "willing" to meet me half way and it didn't delay us too much.

At the 112 - 113 fork we turned to the right, down toward the Virgin River "Landing" - at least that what the sign says. As it turns out there is no landing, just post and cable blocks to the end of the trail in some willow flat-lands.

It also said "street legal vehicles only" but the sign is NOT at the Lake Mead NRA border, and ATVs are legal on the adjacent BLM land.

We went back around and took the road to Fisherman's Cove. It was rougher and down a wash but got a bit closer to the lake.

May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.”
Edward Abbey

The trail sort of ended in a deep, washed-out drop-off; so, we considered it a hiking trailhead and had only walked about 300 yards down the wash before we stumbled upon the real, live Virgin River.

The wildflowers still haven't bloomed out yet, but there were some willow-looking things with juniper type leaves just barely starting to sprout some lilac-looking violet flowers. It should be beautiful and fragrant next week.

We ate lunch on the river bank, which seemed fairly brisk, before deciding it was late enough that we had better turn back home.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Extra 9 - North Valley With Friends

North Valley is a ride that I never get tired of — in spite of the "skydive" over the cliff on my 2-wheel drive rig at Aztec formation rock. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Extra 9 - North Valley]

The funny thing about snowbirds is that once we are here, we want all of our friends to be here too. I've been begging friends to come "share the wealth" for five months now and finally I wore them down.

This weekend not only the Koford's but the DeGroot's came down as well. We only had the afternoon, so the best ride to take from Snowbird Headquarters was North Valley.

It seemed as though the kids were in "seventh heaven" climbing the tanks, hiking the hills, smelling the cactus! (Of course they were careful to watch out for the Pumas.)

I've never ridden with a six-seater before but they do the trails with the greatest of ease — and make a great way to extend the experience to the whole family.

Of course we stopped at Keyhole Rock and saw Ray's Cactus Garden and the Petrodroppings before we rode over to the Aztec Rock cliff. The six-seater went down first and watched from below as I came down with my lowly 2-wheel drive Kodiak.

Frankly, I was too busy to be watching the looks on their faces as I was skydiving down the cliff; but, when I got to the bottom they decided that if it was going to be like that they didn't want their daughter to do it alone.

Rod hiked back up and rode down with his daughter, which turned out to be unnecessary. Neither of their two 4-wheel drive Kodiak's had any trouble at all.

The knack of learning how to fly is to learn how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
Douglas Adams

The best way to describe what it feels like on my rig is sort of like snow-skiing. There is no low gear, and no traction so the most you can hope for is to keep it a controlled fall down the mountainside just hoping the next mogul doesn't flip you over.

Unfortunately, none of the cacti or yucca's are in bloom yet, and with the noise we were making we didn't see any of the Roadrunners.

Once out of the valley it was getting late so we headed back across East Bunkerville Flats to Powerline and back to the trailers.

To cap it off we went to the only good Mexican restaurant in town for dinner — Los Lupes, and finished the day like only good friends know how to do.

It was great to have them down here and I've already started working on them for next year — there is sooo much more to see! I just hope I can somehow make it so they don't have to spend their lifetime, like I finally have, learning that nobody ever says, when they are old, "I just wish I had spent more time working!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ride 22B - Zion's Back Door

There is a "backdoor" to Zion's National Park, and we found it today. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 22B - Zion's Backdoor]

The second part of the day in the truck we spent traveling from St. George to Hurricane and then to Apple Valley. We stopped at the Conoco in Apple Valley (the only store) to ask for directions to the interconnect road between Ut-59 and Ut-9. The high school gal running the store had no clue but referred dad to an "old timer" regular customer and he knew right off — "go down the road a bit and turn left at main."

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

It turns out that this was the same store which had short-changed dad out of a $50 bill a few months back. And incredibly, dad was riding in the area last month with a friend who told him about an attempted scam on him too, at the same store!

The boy behind the counter had deliberately played dumb. He placed Ralph's ten inside the till before making change, looked puzzled and asked if Ralph had an additional "one," as if it would be easier to then give correct change. Ralph told him to just take it out of the ten. Then the boy gave him the wrong change three times, before stating that "you didn't give me a ten."

Ralph told him directly that he did so, and instructed him exactly how much change he had coming. AMAZINGLY — this is the only store I have ever seen where absolutely nothing in the store is labeled for price! If you are deliberately going to scam someone, how better to do it than to have nothing, anywhere, marked for price.

The gal seemed astonished that I would even ask for prices, and annoyed that I would ask her to go "scan" the items so she could tell me how much they were. Everything that I wanted to buy was twice to three hundred percent higher than in St. George!!

When dad saw me put the items down and refuse to purchase them, that was when he told me the story of his $50 and ralphs $10. WHAT A SCAM! And I see that someone has uploaded a photo of the store on Google Earth's Panaramio for everyone to see!

The road turned out to be exactly where the old timer said it would be and took us up over the ridge and down into Rockbridge. What a view! What a road!

The Google Earth file available from the link above contains three photos of the back side of Zion NP. Two are panorama's and they still don't do it justice. Best take the ride to see for yourself — but don't take your car!

The ground is a little bit red clay, which holds memory of past rainstorms in the form of deep ruts where crazy people have tried to slam their way up the road spinning and throwing mud. Now they are dry and hard as rock.

The return trip through Laverkin and Hurricane is relaxing and you are quickly back on the freeway going through St. George.

Ride 22A - Ivin's Petroglyphs

We took this ride in the truck today and ended up in two different areas. The first part explored the Native American cemetery near Gunlock and the petroglyphs near Ivin's. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 22A - Ivins Petroglyphs]

We had seen the petroglyphs at Gunlock a couple of days ago but were too exhausted from the hike to tackle these. So "we have returned."

Dad said for 60 years he had wanted to stop and see the Native American cemetery on US-91 at the Gunlock turnoff — so we did. It was a good experience. It seemed as though many interred there had been proud to serve their country.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that it was the final resting place of LaVan Martineau the author of The Rocks Begin to Speak, an indispensable book for understanding petroglyphs. He was affiliated with the Paiute's and would have been someone I would have liked to walk with on a quiet stroll through the glyphs.

About 4.2 miles east on US-91 from the cemetery is a large, unmarked, rock/wrought iron gate on the south. This leads to "anazazi trailhead" the hike into archeological digs and petroglyhps.

The directions we were given were a bit confusing and misleading so we didn't accomplish what we had intended; but, what we saw was fairly extensive.

The trail leading away from the trailhead is well prepped and marked. It winds through the desert and ends up at the petroglyphs; but, it is 3.5 miles long. Shortly after the first turn to the right there is a dirt trail to the right (south) which leads toward the basalt rocks on the cliff. This trail is quite a bit more difficult (steep) but shorter.

I turned onto the trail less traveled and shortly found a set of glyphs on the right. However, much hunting in the surrounding cliff was fruitless. From there the trail continues upward to a tall chain-link fence then turns southeast.

Finally, where the fence joins to the cliff there is a small view point over the valleys on both sides and a much steeper trail continuing up the hill. that's the way you've got to go if you want to see the glyphs.

Keep going and you will run across a dig site of a Puebloean structure of unknown use. The sign whines that the area was "ruined" by ATVers, and it may have been, but their not-so-veiled implication was that it was "unauthorized." [The area only recently was "closed" but before that riding was NOT prohibited. I wonder if we all should stop walking or riding around everywhere for fear of future finding that someone else might have been there once.]

The site is really quite well marked and protected now. The BYU people have done a good, if not extensive, job. Continuing along the cliffs of black rocks you will come to some glyphs. Turn around and you will see more, and more, and more. There are a few areas where you can safely, with difficulty, climb down a ways and see a few more; but, most are well viewed from the top.

Education is hanging around until you've caught on.”
Robert Frost

That's the hike I took and it was well worth the exhausting effort. However, my feeling sorry for myself about how poor a shape and old I am was ameliorated a bit by watching a bunch of high-school boys trudge up the hill. Most had taken their shirts off and were "feelin' the burn." They seemed to welcome the chance to rest while their leaders got me to explain what I knew about the glyphs.

I had intended to go back down the main trail but decided it was TOO long and down was sure to be easier than up. Besides, part B of our ride was awaitin'.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ride 21 - Toquop Petroglyphs

We found a way of getting up Toquop Wash without needing to ride up and over Flat Top Mesa! [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 21 - Toquop Wash]

That's a good thing because that Mesa is tall, the road is steep, and you take your life in your hands four times every ride stopping on the 45 degree incline to open two gates each direction.

The only problem is that you may tick off some right-lane freeway traffic as you slow and turn off onto the service road. There is a galvanized fence which opens onto a gravel staging area for the city (or someone); but, a nice road leads down into the wash.

We had two goals: To get down to the Virgin River (seems to be annoyingly difficult to accomplish), and I wanted to go visit the best cactus area around here. There is almost every kind of cactus we see in this area, right in one place — and they are all extremely healthy.

The sandy wash is a good ride — smooth and windey. Then you turn westward and it become a high-frequency washboard which nearly shakes the begeeburs out of you while it loosens all your fillings.

You know you're almost there when you cross under the power lines and you hear crackling in the air all around you. Shortly after the lines you need to turn left (southwest) on the "private road", drop down into the wash and back up the other side. That's when the plants begin too look like they've all been "fertilized and watered."

You are on the right road when you see the prep station which gathered climate related data for the proposed power plant. Then when you get close to the mountains you need to turn right (northwest) up along the foothills. You will pass old mines, springs and eventually come to two crumbling, rock cabins.

The rumor was this was where the mayor of Vegas brought his girlfriends in the old days, but dad says that they were built nearly exactly like the CCC cabins in Utah (only they were made of local logs while these were made of local flagstone). There are kitchens built on the back accessible from both the outside and the cabin, and a cement "autograph" is dated 1942 — the correct time-frame.

While leaving, dad told me later that I had spooked a large owl which was perched in a large bush. It flew up and nearly hit dad on his bike. I hadn't seen a thing.

The stock tank at Gourd Spring had been filled on one side with dirt. The water flow has diminished and it was full of moss — not a pretty sight. No wonder why goldfish don't live there!

Continuing north and coming to the wash, this time I noticed one of those BLM "behave yourselves" signs which are usually a dead give away that there is something they would rather not have you see.

So, we went back down into the wash and found some very unique rock formations and petroglyphs. I've mentioned about "petrodroppings" before in relation to North Valley at Keyhole Rock. These are also the petrified ooze from the bottom of a watercourse adherent to a base rock, but this was a more colorful brown-ocre AND had been polished to a high sheen by another flat rock as it slid past it.

It truly looked as though someone had taken a rock polisher to it then layered it with lacquer. The Toquop Wash Petroglyphs were elevated on a rock in the wash and may deserve explanation in a later post.

Most of my treasured memories of travel are recollections of sitting.”
Robert Thomas Allen

Rounding the top (at Abe Spring) and back down to the power lines was uneventful except to say that dad (a former farmer) noticed that nearly all the cows were walking like they had sore feet. You try and walk around on that rock to see what it feels like. Even the river rocks in the wash were like walking on lava clinkers... sharp!

It was a verry long ride for us, and a difficult long step back up into the truck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ride 17a - Supplemental, Mesquite City

Last month I reported on a ride we took down the walking trail from Snowbird Headquarters to the Virgin River. [See: Ride 17 - Mesquite City]

Today, dad was down at the river reading his book and saw several ATVers riding the trails which made him jealous.

Unfortunately, I rode off to meet him for today's ride without the GPS or even my camera. It would have been nice to have them because we did go a bit farther and saw a few more things. Also there were a lot more plants which seem to be coming back to life.

Further down the river we came across an old concrete dam which now is largely filled up with silt and has become a waterfall. We also drove up the wash to the field next to the Virgin River Casino. There was a bit more water than we saw last time but still quite passable.

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need the advice.”
Bill Cosby

There were quite a few other users of the offroad trails today. All, except the motorcyclist, were very considerate and congenial. It's been my experience that once a kid gets hidden behind a helmet and pulls down the visor he considers himself some kinda "ninja turtle" — nearly invisible and beyond the necessity of companionability or sometimes even following any rules.

So if madame mayor isn't yet aware of just how much offroading means to the seniors of her community, she better get a briefing... where's Gordon when you need him?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ride 20 - Gunlock Petroglyphs

We've been told about the petroglyphs just up the street from us several times now; but, as the weather turned a bit too warm to ride, we finally took the trip. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 20 - Gunlock Petroglyphs]

We took the truck, without the ATVs, up old highway 91 through Arizona into Utah. The gunlock turnoff comes up on you fairly quickly around a corner. Cross the bridge and run up to the huge rock dam on the river.

Several large basaltic rocks on the right contain real petroglyphs and, unfortunately, several "ass tracks." You need to get out and hike a bit on the hillside or you will miss several rocks with glyphs. (Please download the Google Earth file for this "ride" and see the trail and waypoints for the glyphs.)

Further up the canyon (about a mile or so) be looking REAL hard for a red dirt, very steep, graded trail making a very hard right up the wash. On the left there are some old rock works of the former town of "Shem."

It looks daunting, and for old codgers it is. But one step at a time will soon have you feeling accomplished for having climbed about 150 feet in elevation in about a half mile.

We met a group of seniors who had just made the trek and showed us the photo's they had taken. However, I must say that the directions we were given weren't very clear so we kept looking for landmarks which we never found.

Watch for the cliff on the right side to get lower until there is a clear trail running to the right and toward the far cliff edge. Follow the trail a bit slightly upward to the top and admire the vistas.

There is no real trail once you get on top. Wander around and look for glyphs on several rocks. They, most likely, are marker rocks which point (in glyph language) to the "real" hilltop petroglyphs over on the vertiginous, far south side of the cliffs.

There are several rocks there which hold glyphs, but one that stands out and is so covered it defies interpretation. WATCH YOUR STEP, it's a loong way down!

The glyphs didn't look like the photo we had been shown from the way we saw it, and we had been led to believe that we should expect to find a "panel." To me, that means a very large flat rock, so we felt the need to keep looking.

If you come to a fork in the road... take it.”
Lawrence Peter ("Yogi" Berra)

Dad was done in, so I kept on walking up the trail only to find... nothing. I came across a widened area once use as a campsite and eventually the abandoned Caterpillar which had graded the trail. The fenceline at the border of the Shivwits indian reservation had a gate which was open so I walked a bit further up the trail. Nada.

I returned back to the car shortly after dad had arrived and we were ready for a drink. We drove up the canyon, thinking we might stop at a store in Gunlock but didn't find one.

We found the Gunlock rodeo grounds, and a church but no store. The bridge was flooded out not much further up the road, so we returned.

By the way (don't expect cell phone signal on the trip).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

St. George ATV "Rendezvous"

I accompanied Charley up to the ATV gathering in St. George this weekend. Hundreds of ATVers from all over several states gathered to commiserate and ride the many red-rock trails around here.

Of course it didn't hurt that there was no snow and shirt-sleeve weather.

We arrived late in the day really just to see the vendors and to "network" a bit with the riders. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was basically deserted. Everyone had finished riding for the day and was out getting cleaned up for an awards ceremony and dinner.

We spoke with the vendors and gathered all the maps we could (which wasn't many). If you frequent these types of things you may already understand how vendors work. I sort of expected people who were really interested in expanding the sport and providing "value added" to those who attend.

Unfortunately, what I experienced were salespeople who were salivating over a captive market. Eight dollars for a 25 cent chin-strap buckle - get real! I actually didn't see any of the local vendors there that I knew, and did catch one vendor who persisted in lies (which exaggerated the value of his product).

Always do right... this will gratify some and astonish the rest.”
Mark Twain

A BLM lady was there with color brochures and pushing the use of flags ... no mention about all the trails which have been closed, or why. Her handouts seemed quite a bit heavy on all the things we COULDN'T do and almost nothing on what we could do.

I was able to disseminate the blog address to a few people before we headed to St. George for dinner at Cracker Barrel - moderately priced, substantial food... clumsy waiters who dropped and broke a whole rack of plates and glasses.

Note to organizers: Think "value added" - trail map handouts and not letting anyone exhibit unless they bring at least one really good deal with them!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dealing With Google Earth

Today, without any riding buddies, I went over to Charley's to see if we could get his Garmin GPS to behave with "Easy GPS" and Google Earth (GE).

You know that nearly every post here is accompanied by a Google Earth .kmz file which shows much more detail of our ride that I can put here. Sometimes there are also explanatory photos, and definitely more "geocoded" waypoints.

Download Google Earth

What you may not know is that GE has a new version which, unfortunately, contains several bugs. It doesn't display the pop up descriptions the same way, and they look crazy or don't show up at all.

Fortunately the 4.3 version is still available (which I still use); but, unfortunately it's not so obvious to find. Clicking on this link: Google Earth will take you to the download page, but you will need to look at the small writing and download the 4.3 version.

Turn Off "Show Time"

In either case, GE has a function to only display items which are labeled within a certain time frame. Some of your files which you load from your GPS are time coded so are hard to get displayed in GE. And the user interface is not intuitive.

It's best to simply turn off the function all together (until you really need it). To turn it off, click on "View" at the top of the screen, cursor down to "show time" and select "never" from the menu. That should do it, and all these files will display correctly.

Easy GPS

We were finally able to get his Garmin GPS files onto his computer using "Easy GPS." It's a free program which is fairly intuitive to use, and will import directly from a large number of GPS units and export to a ".gpx" file, which is now the standard, open source geo-sharing file type. You can download it from here: Easy GPS if you would like. Send me a note if you think you need more explanation.

Companion Web Site

As soon as we get Charley's files in order, I should be adding them to the master file on my accompanying web site: If you haven't seen all those files, you should.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Extra 8 - Mine Hunt

One of Gordon's passions, I think, is to find every abandoned mine in the Mojave Desert. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Extra 8: Mine Hunt]

We realized that it would be a fairly long exploratory ride so we took Gordon's "Hummer," and his visiting daughter, and set off in search of three mines over on the Gold Butte area: Grand Gulch, Savanic and Cunningham. All of which appeared close together on Google Earth.

Seeing Lime Kiln Canyon from the "cockpit" of a vehicle is completely different than with the wind in your ears on an ATV. If you haven't done it, try it!

Gordon had done the ride partially before, but ran out of time and never got to the mine. We took the same route which he took before, so went straight ahead when we reached the Mud Mountain Rd junction.

We ran across an odd water tower next to a large water tank. Gordon said that it was an attempt to make it an "artisan well"; where, with one smaller pipe inside a larger pipe, the water would "automatically" flow.

The Pakoon Basin road was by far the "less traveled" road and we missed it the first time through. When we arrived at a nice farm corral with a large water tank and farm pond. So... we retraced back to the turnoff and turned southeast.

The valley's we went through looked, for all the world, like "U" shaped glacial valleys; although, for the life of me, I had no idea that the Ice Age covered clear down here.

Then in one area, sharp eyed Gordon spotted the only real wildlife that I've seen in the area. Sure there are lizards and ground squirrels, and there was that solitary burrow who "found us"; but, this was a real live mule deer - weird looking but a deer none-the-less.

Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.”
Samuel Johnson, Giant’s Causeway

At the "T" with Wolfhole-Grand Wash road, we turned west to Grand Wash but it rapidly turned south again and came to yet another "T". Grand Gulch Canyon to the left 2 miles and Grand Wash Bay/Mesquite to the right.

We knew exactly where we were because of our 3 GPS units; but, the road didn't seem to have a clue! It wasn't there! We went up the canyon, which we could see from the satellite, but even the hummer couldn't continue. So much for that!

Not wanting to re-do the road we had just come in on, we continued our "explore" and headed back along the "bay" road.

On the way back we ran across a man working a front-loader and Gordon stopped to commiserate. Apparently, "you can't get there from here!" We should'a gone up towards St. George and around the back side of the mountain range, in spite of what Google Earth showed!

We never found the mine but we did see a deer and the most unique cactus that I've ever seen in the wild. It looked like some nurseryman had grafted five or six plants together trying to show off. We made it back before dark, but just barely.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Extra 7 - Falling Man Hike

I've already mentioned how the BLM is practicing age discrimination by closing down all the area's petroglyph sites, severely limiting the majority of the areas users who are retired seniors, most being servicemen who have even fought for their land.

We had some younger relatives come to visit who were better able to hike so I guided them around.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Extra 7: "Falling Man" Hike]

[I apologize in advance for the size of the Falling Man Hike file (4.3MB) - You'll thank me later, It's got lots of photos, and I promise I'll cut back. Once it loads in Google, make sure you have "Panoramio" turned on: Layers > Primary Database > Geographic Web > Panoramio. Additional photos I've submitted to Google will appear as blue squares when you zoom in.]

We trailer'd to the Whitney Junction trailhead and set out on the adventure. We stopped at the old crumbling rock wall made by the CCCs during the last depression. There was a sign but no other information was given, except that the site wasn't to be used as a restroom.

Be sure to download the Google Earth file for more photos and waypoints. Click on these photos for clearer view.

The first stop was "First Rock" which is, so far, the only petroglyph without a 1/2 to 2 mile hike added to its viewing.

They were still the same, in spite of being the closest and most visited. In fact, the only damage to the area that we saw the whole day is being done as a RESULT of the BLM's own massive closures. The desert is becoming scarred and matted down with everyone trying to find new parking places, and even entirely new walking paths, in order to avoid all the crap the "institute" kids are tossing on the existing trails to "hide" them!

Age is a bad traveling companion.”
English Proverb

Then we rode around to the "Falling Man" area. Some remotely run websites call this area "Whitney-Hartman," in case you are trying to look it up on Google; but, no "local" uses the term, and they all look at you funny if you do.

This area has several panels of petroglyphs, most of which always have required some amount of hiking and hunting, but now all do… fairly extensively. So beginning with this blog entry, I enter a new phase of my reporting of petroglyphs.

Like others who write about these artifacts on the web, I used to discuss only the "site" but didn't get too specific on the actual locations of the glyphs. That was, I believed, my own form of "protect the earth" way to do it. That way, only those who would actually spend the time necessary to understand them might actually see them and not any "shoot-em-up rednecks" who were just out for a fun time.

Now, however, I believe that someone who has made it through all the draconian BLM blockades has already "paid the price." It would be criminal to make someone who had gone to that great of effort to see the land, which they most likely fought for, leave empty handed just because they didn't "stumble" on the glyphs. Those of you who haven't served your country get a "free ride," so please behave yourselves!

So, here we go. From the hike trailhead, walk South along the old trail. You'll need to negotiate around all the needless debris they have tossed in the trail. About 2/10th's of a mile in, turn to the right and down into a clearing with a large rock.

There are two archaic panels here. Archaic Panel 1 is on two sides of the large rock. They are called "Archaic" because they are some of the oldest. There are several writings on top of each other and are quite worn, making them hard to read.

Archaic Panel 2 is across the clearing to the South along the cliff, and may not be all that archaic. They are also hard to read. I tried to explain the meanings of some of these glyphs as we went along and wished I had brought my copy of The Rocks Begin to Speak by LaVan Martineau.

Then continue along the original trail to the South. In front of you will be a cliff with a large bush in a recess and a "window" or hole in the rock. There are several petroglyphs on the outside of the rock as you climb up to the hole.

There are also some glyphs inside the tunnel on the walls. If you crawl through the tunnel and stick your head out the other side you can see two more well preserved glyphs.

Turn your head to the left and look at the wall to see a glyph of a man inside some kind of embellished circle - don't touch! Then look straight ahead, past the man to the far cliff wall. There are two dark "splotches" over a ledge. At the top right corner of the bottom "splotch" is the namesake petroglyph - falling man. Keep looking, it's a bit difficult to notice until you've seen it once. (Click on the photo below for a better view.)

Back out of the tunnel into the clearing below the tunnel. To the left there is a place where the cliff gets a little lower and provides some foot-holds to climb up on top. We are heading for what is known as "newspaper rock" and some interesting cisterns.

Once on top it's a bit hard to describe except to say "keep to the right" as much as you can. You will first come across a large rock, topside 1, with a few glyphs on the rock. These may be pointers to the larger panels ahead, or to some fairly unique cisterns.

Continue to the right, across an area which looks like it might hold water, and you will see a large rock with a panel of glyphs known as Newspaper rock 1. The glyphs are well preserved, at eye level, and on both sides of the rock.

Now climb south (left) up to the top of the rise. There will be yet another rock with glyphs, topside 2. From there you can find a way down into the level below, along the split next to the cliff wall. Continue mostly West to the bottom and up the wash a bit to pass some glyphs and find some unique cisterns carved out of the sandstone. When we were there (March) they were still full of water.

Then back east you will head toward another "overlook" into a lower wash. The Newspaper Rock 2 panel is best seen from below; but, if you get as far toward the edge as possible and look carefully back toward the North, you can see the large number of glyphs on the far cliff wall.

To see the lower panel well, you will need to find your way down into the lower wash. Once there, however, you needn't climb back up. Just hike East down the wash and you will come to the main trail and a relatively short walk back to the trailhead.

At least one of us hikers did NOT want to brave the climb down, and we rationalized that the "ladies" were awaiting our return with some anxiety, so we attempted to try and find a more direct route back. The trail we took eventually went in the wrong direction, so we retraced back the way we came.

The bikes were waiting for us, as well as the ladies and kids with sandwiches and pop.

Why Not Learn More

The book "The Rocks Begin To Speak" is probably the landmark text which opened this field of study to large numbers of people, and it is still in print, new or used at Amazon. Why not make your trips to the "Glyphs of Gold Butte" more meaningful by learning a few of the "meanings" of the glyphs you see? If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ride 19 - Middle/Cow/Cabin Canyons

If cartography was our goal, we accomplished it "in spades" today! Like the infamous Gilligan we were "just going for a three day cruise" into the Middle Canyon to see if the Pencil Cholla was in bloom. [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride 19: Middle - Cow Canyon (3.9M photos)]

Dad even thought it a laudable goal and decided to come with. Gordon had said that he would "preempt" his pooch's seat and let dad ride in his side-by-side.

We first went up Lime Kiln Canyon road to see the goldfish. Gordon thinks they are Koi Carp which is why they are so hardy. I never knew there was a difference.

Then we went back around and across the interconnect trail to Middle Canyon. There were a lot of things starting to come back to life, but the Cholla wasn't one of them. New to me was the large number of Mohave Yucca which had been burned to the ground and were now sprouting new fronds from their stubby bases. I didn't know they would sprout from roots.

Seeing's how we had a much more stable vehicle to ride we went a bit further up the canyon from the water hole which was being dug.

It's a beautiful canyon, but shortly turned into a bit too steep for my two-wheel drive rig. Dad suggested that he take it back down and around to the Cabin Canyon trailhead, and I continue on upward with Gordon to "find the mine" - his hobby.

The trail became at least "intermediate" in difficulty due to width, rocks, incline and camber; but, the views were spectacular, both up and down.

Taking a bit longer than we anticipated already, we did eventually top out and run across an abandoned mine shaft. There were rail tracks inside but they only ran about 125 feet before reaching the back wall.

Once on top, we did "explore" a trail along the ridge for a bit, but returned to the downward trail through Cow Canyon into Cabin Canyon. It had definitely become a "black diamond" trail. At the bottom we turned right, toward Mesquite, and quickly knew what Charlie had been telling me about its difficulty.

Under normal circumstances we would never have taken the rig over trail like that, except that the "return trip" was "sooo not gonna happen." Gordon said that he had determined if we came to a rock he couldn't get around, he was going to "winch the rock out of the way" rather than go back up and around.

As if it couldn't get any worse, it did! Some areas were such that I would have needed to "get out the winch"; but, fortunately, I was riding with a life-long heavy equipment driver who was very skilled. We didn't need the winch.

Dad had waited for over an hour and was a bit non-plussed for the ordeal. It may have been aggravated by the fact that he hadn't brought along his book to read - but who would have thought.

We noticed another cross-connect trail adjacent to the Cabin Canyon trailhead so we took it to see where it would intersect. At a fork we took the wrong direction and ended up going down to Cabin Canyon road via Indian Canyon wash.

I love to travel, but hate to arrive.”
Albert Einstein

By this time we recognized we were on a cartography mission so went back up to the trailhead and made another attempt to get the trail on the GPS. Eventually we met with Middle Canyon road and went back down to the trailer.

Gordon's dog ought to be grateful that he was preempted. After the Logandale ride, this one would have done him in!

[I went a bit bananas on the Google Earth map file I made for this route. It's a bit larger file due to the included panorama files of viewpoints and because I split the track into sections based upon difficulty.]

Monday, March 2, 2009

Interpreting Petroglyphs: Logandale "Hungry Man"

All blog posts need a title, but this one seems a bit pretentious. That is to say: it is what I'm writing about, but pretty much only to say that "no one can do it!"

I've had several requests to describe what I've learned from reading books on the subject. That's what it is, nothing more - except, unless you count the hundred's of hours I've spent riding around with dad looking at them.

I mentioned the "Hungry Man" petroglyph on the Logandale Trail System in a previous post, after having had an extended time to just sit and look at it during a ride. That same glyph does have some more aspects to it that could be mentioned.

Just remember that the authors of rock art are pretty much "gone" so a definitive answer will probably never be known. What is "known," is pretty much educated guesses from using cryptographic methodology and analysis of lots and lots of material. The first rule, if you will, is to: "get a good book."

LaVan Martineau, part Indian, spent 40 years of his life using his knowledge of Indian language, sign language, and the cryptology he learned in the war, to begin unraveling some of the mystery. His book, The Rocks Begin to Speak was recommended to me as a great "starting place." And it has been, so I can recommend it to you.

[It still is in print, available new or used and available on-line at Amazon. If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so through the above link at no extra cost to you, as a "thank you" to help keep this site going and the trails coming.]

The second rule is that: "there's no substitute for actually being there." You can photograph or draw or describe them; but, there is way too many interrelated aspects needed to do it accurately. The best might be a "rubbing" but that's almost never possible, practical or legal.

Other rules are: How deep they are carved, how they are placed in relation to other glyphs, how they are placed relating to the entire area, the natural features of the rock they are on and even the past social history of the tribe -they all matter. Not just how they are shaped.

A good first understanding of this glyph would, at least, consider the following:

Location: It was located on the end rock, very visible to a traveler, along a major trail through the red rock desert area near the Virgin River, a day or two's journey from "lost city" and other indian settlements, and in a clearly unique and identifiable area which probably was associated with myths and legends.

Associated Symbols: The "6-7 toed foot" is a clan symbol which I know I've seen at the lost city museum but which I can't now remember. I'll need to check next time I'm there. It either marks the territory or identifies the author or characters in the story. They are directly under some other glyphs showing groups on a difficult travel line.   [I did check, it's NOT there, so I still don't know which clan. A "barefoot" sign means "unprotected, vulnerable, or dangerous," but this is clearly NOT a normal barefoot.]

Carving: There are two persons, one slightly larger and more deeply stippled. (Stippling often means water or wet - I'm not sure how it is used here). He is holding an implement, possibly an axe, tomahawk or atlatle, and has a unique head point. That is often used to represent an elder or shaman or a person of some importance. Other actions don't show agression so he is probably hunting.

The smaller person is less deeply carved, does not have the head point, is facing the same direction as the other (so they were probably companions) and is also holding a weapon. Do you see it?

Natural Features: His right hand is drawn to include the natural indentation in the rock which for all intents and purposes looks like a spear. Native writing often uses a rock's natural features to save the fairly difficult labor of chipping the rock. The placement of the hand exactly leaves no doubt that it was intended to end at the indentation. One can even see a small chip at the point of the spear.

Other items: The other items are a bit less distinct which may be so for a reason or because they were placed at another sitting. The smaller animal(?) to the lower left could possibly be the quary, a rabbit(?).

On the other hand, what looks like a rabbit may be a map of the area. Compare it with the Google Earth map of our trail and you see the lower right line going left (like the trail) down to a dead end (like it does at petroglyph 3) and intersecting a broad canyon area runing North (like it does). At the top another trail running down to the left and behind the mountain ridge. Of course, it is attached to the large clan symbol which may indicate the location of the tribes hunting grounds.

Social Situation: It was, however, a common practice for an elder to take a young male into the desert to teach him the skills of a hunter and the lessons of life. It is also common for a boy comming of age to embark on a "vision quest" at the beginning of manhood. The "Atlatle Rock" story in the Valley of Fire visitors center is such a story. This site is just over the ridge from Valley of Fire.

There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”
Robert Frost

Possible Story: 1. The tribe referenced earlier had come from a distant place, on a difficult journey which left them hungry. At least a portion of the group was determined (either through decision or physical limitation) to split apart. Capable men and boys of the (?) clan, hunted the area to supply sustenance; or,

2. An elder (or shaman) accompanied a young man into the area to teach him the skills of a hunter. They hunted game (possibly rabbits), made "journal entries" (glyphs) and probably split apart for some time so the young man could demonstrate his "mettle" and recieve his "vision quest."

On the left side of the rock from the "Hungry Man" glyph is this one, placed here so as to be cartographically correct. Notice the spiral going in a counterclockwise direction (meaning downward) and attached to a trail line. If you consider the lower right end of the line to be where the glyph is, it travels upward (the direction of the trail) winding a bit and coming to an empty area (where the fence is today) before turning a bit leftward then continuing into the spiral.

The "going down" symbol is usually merely a spiral but in this case it ends in an enclosed circle with a dot in it (the symbol for water hole). In actuality, from here to the water hole is NOT downward; but, with the water symbol in the middle of the spiral it suggests that it's the water which is actually doing the "going down" (ie a waterfall). To the present day there is a water seep at the back of the canyon flowing down from the rock (petroglyphs 3), which may otherwise be overlooked.

Well, you get the idea. I hope that you get the opportunity, sometime in your life, to visit some of these glyphs and see first hand how you might interpret the story.

Why Not Learn More

The book "The Rocks Begin To Speak" is probably the landmark text which opened this field of study to large numbers of people, and it is still in print, new or used at Amazon. Why not make your trips to the "Glyphs of Gold Butte" more meaningful by learning a few of the "meanings" of the glyphs you see? If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.