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Mystery of the Sacred

I’d been wanting to see a series of pictographs in the desert nearby.  So the other day my friend took me out to see them.  The hike is about 6 miles round trip.  The trip out there is through flat sagebrush country.  For a long ways it doesn’t seem like there’s anything of interest.  Then suddenly the landscape shifts into deep ravines and rocky cliffs.  Near the top of a series of cliffs, a narrow valley appears.  Walking through this rift in the rocky scape, there is a palpable sense of the Sacred.  The cliffs loom high and they all have excellent writing surfaces on them.  But most are empty.  Curiously, there are natural perfect circles of a different kind of rock decorating the sandstone faces.  These natural shield shapes fool you into thinking they’re manmade.

A few official signs along the way tell you these pictographs you’re approaching are special and not to be touched or defaced.  My friend says 7 years ago there was no trail nor signs.  Since then people seemed to have discovered this place because the trail is worn and shows fresh signs of footprints and horseprints.

View from the valley

The sandstone cliffs

The valley is so quiet.  There is a somber aura here that evokes the sacred.  The high cliffs have a cathedral-like feel.  Finally we arrive at the rock with the pictographs.  My friend tells me they are fairly recent, within the last 500 years.  The rock faces east and is in the shade, which is a relief on this unusual 70 degree March day.  The paintings are very faint but you can make them out.

Look closely to see the figures

An area in the rock is chipped where the people who made these got the red coloring.

Where the red color comes from. Maybe why they chose this rock to paint

Down below, in another rocky outcropping, are a few more well preserved shields that lack the figures associated with the ones higher up.

Another painted rock much less eroded

These pictographs are sacred to the Crows.

Why are they here?  Curiously, there is no water nearby and the paintings are in a place that is isolated and hard to get to.  Although we can never get into the minds of the tribesmen who painted these, its fun to imagine what might have been going on there.  Were there several artists or just one?  Was this part of a vision quest or someone passing time in the shaded side of the valley waiting for game, or fellow travelers?  Was this a signpost or message on a well traveled trail?  I suppose it will forever remain a mystery.

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One Response

  1. In this world of blogging, traveling, and suburban sprawl, there aren’t many secret places anymore. Don’t neglect vision quest site as one possible explanation–there are some in the Pintler Wilderness, places very hard to get to.

    Like

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