Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ride 17: "Fire" and "Man" Petroglyphs

What do you do when visiting friends have drug their offroad rigs clear down the state to ride, yet still want to see the petroglyphs – even though the "fiends" and BLM try hard to keep you away? Well… you see the "Fire" and "Man" of course. Devil's Fire and Falling Man on Gold Butte and everything in between.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Ride:17 - Fire and Man]

It's a great ride, through lots of color and landmarks yet still… enables viewing enough petroglyphs to envision early inhabitants and how they must have lived.

Rod and his "gang" brought their six-seater and a couple of rigs which we trailered down to Whitney Junction trailhead, then headed south down the "byway" and into Mud Wash.

We stopped by the Mud Wash Sink Hole not only to visit but to secure the memory in the kids of how dangerous it is to walk (or drive) in the desert in the dark. Then of course there was the Mud Wash Petroglyphs.

Charley and I had heard several (somewhat conflicting) rumors about possible damage at the site – from "someone had chalked them" to "someone had shot them" to "someone had graffiti-ed them." None of which, fortunately, is true.

As you realize from riding the past week, the weather has changed and become quite a bit more humid than usual (for the desert). This has generated a substantial amount of alkaline lechate coming out of the rock – giving the appearance of "chalking." It's been doing it for hundreds of years and will continue for many more. It's how erosion works.

Except for the lechate, the glyphs are identical to the photos I took over three years ago when I first met them (I compared the actual photos).

Of course the Mud Wash Corral is fun to see and the kids were, by then, anxious to stretch their legs hiking to the Oasis and Devil's Fire. You can see by the photo above (especially if you click on it and open it full) that the lechate is quite substantial and almost gives the appearance of snow in the desert.

This post marks a significant change in my attitude (and policy) about publishing exact GEO coordinates of petroglyphs. Until now, I've only published coordinates for sites, routes, trailheads and petroglyphs which were blatantly obvious from the trail.

Now, with the needlessly heavy handed actions of the BLM in the draconian closures, not only is my feeble "protection by omission" unnecessary it would be completely ill-spirited to require people to hike that distance (if they are able) and not know exactly where to look to find them.

Therefore, if you click on the link above to open this trails Google Earth file you will see the coordinates for ALL the petroglyphs mentioned in this posting. And remember, you can then use a program like "GPS visualizer" to turn the .kml file into a .gpx (or other type) file which your GPS unit can upload.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh will not stand the long journey.”
Samuel Clemmens, Mark Twain

By the time we got to the site I wasn't able to do anything except man "base camp" while the others climbed up to see and take photos of the formations. But they had a great time.

After lunch, everyone was ready for another ride so we went back down the wash to Devil's Throat, then up and around to petroglyph trail and Falling Man.

I've posted about the atrocities committed upon "the Man" by the "fiends" in a previous post – they're still there, disappointing if not disgusting.

The kids took to the rocks like mountain goats so had a great time exploring after the ride. They did see the petroglyphs around the tunnel as well as the falling man and the "shaman in heaven."

While I manned "base camp" again they seemed like they were gone quite awhile; but, when they returned through the tunnel they had excitement on their faces from "discovering" other petroglyphs that I hadn't told them about (because I didn't think they would get that far) – Newspaper Rock.

They, and I, had a great time visiting the site. So much so that they decided to stay another day in the area and take another ride.


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