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.
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.
Be sure to download the Google Earth file for more photos and waypoints. Click on these photos for clearer view.
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!
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.
Age is a bad traveling companion.”
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.