Monday, November 30, 2015

Death Valley National Park - November 2015 - Part One

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

Sacrilege and Amazing Things

The small obsidian flake was right at my feet as I climbed out of the camper Sunday morning.

It caught my eye, the light had hit it just right. At times like this I feel the spirits all around me. Not just the spirits of the ancient ones, but the spirits of all the life around me from the movement of the sun's first light on the mountains above to the whisper of the down slope breeze on my face to the rustle of the small bird under the creosote on the cut bank. I feel  i am watched.  Am I open to the magic of this place and do I treat it with respect?

This was a trip of discovery and we were in a perfect place for us, exquisitely alone. The landscape played out in a panorama all around us. "Let's go there!" was all it took to plan our day's adventure. These canyons around us are not covered in any guide books.

We were ready to head out just as full sun hit our camp.

As we moved around a basalt formation we spotted a possible large shelter up a canyon. "Let's go there!"

It had a commanding view.

We climbed back out of this canyon and climbed up an adjoining alluvial fan edge along the mountain front to explore another canyon. We were surprised to find an old, well worn trail. We were far from any access point from the current rough 4x4 road in the valley below so this definitely had the feel of an ancient much used route.

The geology was different up this canyon with a large outcropping of what looked like layers of volcanic tuff. Off to the side, up on a bench well warmed by the fall morning sun was a spectacular panel of fertility symbol petroglyphs.

This was obviously a special place, but for what purpose? Were there rituals celebrating fertility? Was this a good place to come and make babies? Or, was this a place for women to go during their moon?

We continued up canyon and found more ancient rock art.

There were more fertility symbols and interesting storytelling.

The canyon drew us deeper into its wonders.

We found a large panel. Here were repeated long squiggly lines along with many abstract figures along with bighorn sheep.

In places we found faint pictographs.

A pregnant bighorn ewe along with a wavy line.

A faint, possibly older, desert tortoise.

A long fingered hand.

The remains of a shelter.

The large birds were a highlight of this canyon.

In another area the style of petroglyphs changed.

We sat in the warm sun and took in these special surroundings.  We kept our voices quiet and respectful. Then we continued up. We wanted to get a broader view of these volcanic tuffs.

We found Lighthawk's balancing boulder.

Several years ago we had gotten information from both SunMan and Lighthawk about their visits up here.

We took the left fork and climbed higher.

We entered a shallow slot along with a few fun pour overs.

The canyon opened up and we had a nice view of the layering.

What caught my eye was the dark dike up high running perpendicular to layering. 

It was a fun descent back down.

We climbed a side canyon that displayed wonderful, what I believe to be, wind erosion.

We climbed out the top and enjoyed the expanse around us.

I took a telephoto shot of the aforementioned dark dike, a neat curiosity.

Descending back down the side canyon we found a tarantula hanging from the lip of a ten foot pour over.

At first we thought it might be injured or dead  but, as we watched, it did a few pull ups so we moved down canyon not wanting to interfere with the tarantula's exercise program.

We exited the canyon and were still spectacularly high up on the bajada and alluvial fan.

This is an excellent area for cottontop cactus.

It was a few miles back to our lonely camp. It was waiting for us in the slanting late afternoon light.

The moon quietly rose above the Last Chance Range.

The late afternoon light highlighted the detail in a deep gash up and across the valley from us. "Let's go there!" the Lady said.

We took a long walk up the road before dinner and after our showers. This was our view during dinner.

After our long night walk down the road, we turned in and climbed up into our comfortable bunk. It was quiet and still and wonderful and so deeply satisfying after a wonderful day. "Let's go there!" had led us to amazing things.

I want to be clear the word sacrilege in the subtitle above has nothing to do with our stay up here or our visit to special sites. But we had committed sacrilege the afternoon before and in the coming days we would do it again.....................................................

Our adventure continues in Part Two- Please Click Here

1 comment:

  1. Monte,thank you for taking us on another great trip.
    You take us on places that some of us aren't able to visit.
    Really enjoy the Geology and all the rock art.