Monday, February 27, 2017

12 of 52 - Piedras Grandes Cultural Preserve

It was crazy windy during the night in the little alcove that is Dos Cabezas. I am always grateful to be sleeping in my truck when its windy. We checked out the spring area before packing up, taking the time to break down several fire rings and remove the trash around them.

It was a short drive down to the Piedras Grandes trailhead where we headed out against the wind to see if we could find more pictographs. I had read there is a set of pictographs here that mark the arrival of the Spanish by depicting a man on horseback.

We followed the wide trail into the preserve and came to a narrow use trail heading toward the rocks. We followed that path and started poking around to see what we could find.

Right off the bat we found a good sized cave and crawled in to look around. There wasn't too much to see there, just a lot of evidence of recent camp fires.



Josh spotted a boulder with some interesting geology and channeled his inner sheep, scaling up the rock face.

Some of the rocks looked to have signs of faded glyphs. I took photos of them and can't wait for the author of the Dstretch program to return from vacation so I can download it.

We wound our way around the base of the mountain and bouldered up to places that looked interesting.

We climbed up toward a sort of rock arena and spotted this large yoni. I wonder if this rock changed position over time because it looked rather difficult to get to in order to carve. 

Up in the 'rock arena' there was a narrow pass that went to the other side of the mountain. We climbed through it and were blasted with wind of epic proportions.

Upon our retreat from the wind we spotted this boulder, I think this is another yoni but sometimes its hard to tell what was enhanced by the Kumeyaay and what is natural.

As we poked around Josh spotted this piece of bone in a small cave. Upon inspection I realized it may be a hand tool. It was well worn on the top, fit perfectly between my thumb and forefinger and the bottom edges appeared to have been sharpened. I emailed the Anza Borrego SP to ask but I fear I've asked them too many questions. We'll see if they respond. I really can't wait for next semester to get into some formal classes for this stuff. It definitely has my interest!

There were a lot of what looked like capules in the rock which I've learned were ceremonial carvings, but like the yoni it is hard for me to tell what is natural and what is ceremonial. The next photo shows some interesting carvings in the rock as well, but I am met with the same question; is it natural or a petroglyph? What do you think?


These rock anomalies are well explained by water erosion and the further we went in this bowl shaped arena area the more I realized we were climbing an old dry waterfall.


We ran out of rocks to climb on that particular hill and meandered our way back to the trail heading west. Josh had been here before and told me which hill contained the pictographs so we made a beeline in that direction. I wonder if the rock at center right in this photo is a yoni too, or if it's natural. Thoughts?

After a short windy walk we arrived to a new set of large boulders. Josh lead me onward toward the pictographs he knew about, but me being the ADD person I am took a detour and pushed my way through some bushes. I'm glad I did because this was the rock that had the pictograph of the man on horseback. It is seriously faded but still a remarkable thing to see. 


I imagine the Park installed this information plaque due to its close proximity to the trail and historical significance, in hopes it would deter people from messing with it.

We only stayed a short time and continued on around the mountain. Josh wasn't 100% sure where he had seen the pictographs so we continued poking in all the nooks and crannies. We squeezed our way into a large cave with a narrow opening and I spotted some faded pictographs near the entrance.

The cave was magnificent inside with chambers and rooms and even an area that was set up for fires like a natural rock chiminea.  The deeper into the cave I went the more signs I found that this was a serious Kumeyaay residence.

There were many areas with what looked to be faded pictographs but they were next to modern day graffiti which totally bummed my trip. I found several hand prints in the soot on the cave ceiling but I am not sure if they were legit or if they were modern. I just don't understand this mentality. Why would anyone think it's ok to mess with this site?

Is it real or is it a forgery?


In the darkness of the cave you could only see a hint of this graffiti but my phones flash brought it right out. What the hell is wrong with people?! I don't understand! 

We crawled through the other side of the cave and met a happy dolphin in the rock which lightened up my mood a bit. To me he looks as if he just told a bad joke and when I showed it to my co-worker on Monday his first response was, "what did the dolphin say to the boulder?...You rock!" This is EXACTLY what that dolphin is saying to me. I love it!

The wind became too much for us to deal with and we were both feeling really tired. Later we realized neither of us had drank any coffee! I love being in a place that makes me forget to drink coffee or eat lunch, stuff like that. That's when you know you're in your element I think. On our way back toward the trucks we spotted some morteros and kept our eyes peeled for potsherds.

The views went on for days even if obstructed by the windmills. I just love it here. I don't know why it has my heart so strongly right now, but it does.

We opted to dip back into civilization and take the S-2 to Borrego Springs to have a meal at Carlee's. On the way I wanted to check out Bow Willow and Mountain Palm Spring Campgrounds for future adventures. We decided to cruise around the trailhead at Mountain Palm Spring a bit and found the oasis flowing abundantly.


It was just a short jaunt around the lowest oasis but on the way back to the trucks I noticed a pottery piece, and then another, and another! We added our pieces to some others had collected on a rock for future visitors to enjoy. Now I'm REALLY going to come back and camp here!

We passed by Blair Valley which is the turn off to Ghost Mountain and my jaw dropped at how green the lake bed was! It looks like a golf course! 

After a yummy dinner of burgers and fries we sought shelter from the wind in a little alcove in Clark Valley. This is also the trailhead for the steeper ascents of Coyote Mountain. I really want to do this hike so I took this opportunity to scope it out.

I climbed and climbed what looked like an easy run up the hill but it was super steep and every place I put my foot crumbled or shifted. This will be a fun hike in the most strenuous way.

I was ready to turn back, as it was getting dark quickly but something caught my eye. I pushed myself onward toward it and found a metal container buried in the ground with a pipe and wire coming out of the top, I have no idea what it was nor why it was there. After opening the lid and looking around it I decided to use it as a seat and plopped down to catch my breath. Hopefully it wasn't a seismograph or something like that!


I carefully scooted my way back down to camp and when I arrived, traded my shoes for flip flops and my hiking clothes for cotton jammies. The soft, warm fabric against my dirty skin reminded me that cotton is something I really missed when on the PCT.  You take things like cotton jammies for granted in your daily life but they are sooooo nice.

I settled in for a fireless night as we were parked in a no fire area. Eventually the wind became too much and we retreated to my truck to watch one of my favorite old movies, The Burbs. This was one of the more relaxing trips I've taken in quite a while, and I really needed it.

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