Thursday, February 25, 2021

White Orb Pictograph Site

 When a friend of mine from the blogosphere asked if I would be willing to show him the White Orb picto site, I was all in! GS is someone with a HUGE background in desert exploring, and someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for. It's been over a year since my last visit, and this particular site is rich in cultural artifacts. I had that feeling that there was more to find and see.

I'm keeping the location of this site a secret. Please know that none of the  landscape shots were taken near the cultural site.

Off we went. It turned out to be a perfect day. Very comfortable temperatures along with blue sky with scattered clouds.
I always like the way the desert looks in B&W!

Bla bla bla... looks like a giant mouth to me!

East Siberia? I think we are seriously lost!!

Ah, that's better. May be not as lost as I thought. GS finds a large pottery sherd, so we must be getting close. It includes a nice curve and rim section. Very cool find! By the way, on previous visits, I didn't find any pottery sherds. On this visit, between GS and I, we found about five without really looking too hard.
I "discovered" this site on my first visit while looking for the White Orbs. There are a few pictos on the rock wall just above the big boulder that GS is resting his arms on.
Color enhanced using Dstretch.

Color enhanced using Dstretch.

But the real surprise is what's BEHIND the boulder in an area so small that it's almost impossible for an adult to squeeze in...
What appears to be small finger and handprints (Color enhanced using Dstretch)
I called this site "children's cave" because I can't imagine anyone other than a child being able to squeeze into this space and leave these small handprint pictographs.
As we continue searching for the White Orbs, GS finds this beautiful little projectile point. This really made my day! I've never found an arrowhead before in all my hikes and visits to cultural sites. This might be a good time to mention that, as always, the point, pottery sherds, and anything else we find is left exactly as we find it.
I set the point on my backpack in order to better see the detail.

We eventually come across a second pictograph site. This one is really interesting.
I used Dstretch to enhance the color. There are many pictos in the area! GS has Dstretch loaded on his iPhone, so it makes it easier to identify faded pictos. Here's the one he is photographing:
A sunburst within a sunburst. Very interesting and unusual!

Nearby is this net motif, which is more commonly seen.

Finally, we come across the hollow rock we are looking for.
To see what's inside requires you to get down on all fours and belly-crawl into the cave. Sand in my boots, sand in my pants, sand everywhere... but oh so worth it!
This combination image shows the unedited photo (top) of the White Orbs and the color enhanced (Dstretch) version on the bottom. Both the pictograph itself and also the white pigment make this truly unique! It's interesting that two of the four visible orbs have red pigment on the inside border, and the one on the far right has a cross motif branching off one side. The meaning and significance of this unique pictograph has been lost to time.

The above three photos (color enhanced using Dstretch) are additional pictographs found on the inside walls of the White Orbs cave. A fascinating cultural site!
After crawling out from under the rock, dusting myself off, and emptying the sand out of my pockets, I discover this beautiful tenaja, which looks like it could hold water for a number of weeks after a rain. It's likely an important water hole for the locals.

Do you notice anything weird about this photo (I mean, besides the dude with the grey beard)?? Out in the middle of nowhere, and not near any trail or road, this wood appears to have been cut with a saw. Very odd! (Photo credit GS)
I'm always amazed by how birds can perch on sharp pointy things in the desert and not be bothered!

Linking with Skywatch Friday.
Thanks for stopping by.
Stay safe and stay healthy!!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Snow in the Desert

 So I admit, you probably won't get too excited about seeing snow patches (unless, like me, you live in an area that rarely sees snow!). I missed the really good snow (photographically speaking) by about a week. Since I don't live in the desert (I just visit as often as possible), I have to take whatever I can get. And for this hike, most of the snow had melted. That which remained was mostly on the surrounding peaks and deep shade areas, but still a treat!

Such a different experience from my usual hot, dry desert!

I'd never hiked into the Willow Hole area, and wasn't sure what to expect. I saw no standing water (although historically I think this area was a spring and important source of water).

It's easy to see were water levels have been in the past, based on the stain on the rocks. This area must be gorgeous after rains turn it into a small pond or lake, but I'm guessing it doesn't happen much anymore.

The Willow Hole trail during late afternoon.

"I have an idea. Lets all climb up on top of that rock and I'll take your picture!" You see some funny things hiking around Joshua Tree.
The surrounding snow-covered hills and mountains provided a beautiful backdrop as I started my hike back to the car. I'll share more of the details from this hike on my next post. It was a good one!

Mt. San Gorgonio

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Stay safe and stay healthy!!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Stirrup Tank Shelter

 I've hiked Stirrup Tank in Joshua Tree National Park a few times before (here and here), but I wanted to explore the area further west and south. The rock formations look interesting on Google Earth, and it's an area rarely explored. That's a combination I find irresistible. So join me while we take a look!

When will I ever learn? The terrain was steeper than I was expecting. It was all up and down and crossing steep washes. Satellite view tends to make the terrain look flatter. How many times have a said "it looked easier on Google Earth!"

I love the strange, interesting rock formations and textures. The one directly above reminds me of a fish head looking up at the sky!

I was really happy to meet Mr. Grumpy tortoise on my hike. These guys have gotten extremely rare. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to find the shell remains from deceased tortoises, but it's much less common to come across a live one. This guy wasn't looking too spry. He barely opened his eyes to look at me, and never moved. I moved on without disturbing him, hoping he wasn't sick.
I came across these very large boulders, leaning against each other creating a natural shelter. Within the shelter is this rock ring with signs of soot above it. It looks very old, but whether it was more recent or perhaps ancient, I guess we will never know.
I call this the "big boulder" area, which is near the shelter. This boulder is about 15' in height. I like the big, open, unobstructed view of the desert. You may be able to tell from the shadows that it's getting late in the day. 

A little bit of golden light left before the sun sets!


Not sure if I prefer color or B&W, so will share both!
This was one of those hikes that felt longer than it was. Total distance was just over 5 miles, but it kicked my butt!
Thanks for joining me on this adventure.
Stay safe and stay healthy!
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