The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       May 2001      Number 5

Little Petroglyph Canyon
Text and Photos by James Parker

At the Matarango Museum we previewed an excellent video presentation on the Little Petroglyph Canyon. From the museum parking lot we caravanned the 40+ miles to the Little Pitrograph parking lot. A guide map pointed out various noteworthy features along the way. Of particular interest was a magnificent Joshua Tree forest at Wild Horse Mesa but unfortunately no wild horses.

After making use of the pit toilets we all gathered around a large rock with a panel of petroglyphs on one side, a brass dedication plaque on another, and a heap of horse dung directly in front - marking territory explained one person; hatred for tourists, thought I. Having lost our appetite for lunch we broke up into two groups and trustingly followed the guides down into the canyon, one mile down and four miles up - so says the guide.

We did not have to go far to notice petroglyphs, in fact, they were present the entire length of the canyon. The petroglyphs were either an etching of a physical thing found in nature or an abstract form. The abstractions were thought to be the recording of ones "vision quests". As we pushed onward, the canyon walls became higher and the canyon floor steeper. It soon became necessary in some places to do some climbing. The guide pointed out that they would provide helicopter transportation for anyone injured or who could not make it back on foot. Not having the $6,000 to cover that expense our group took extra precautions to avoid injury.

Without warning, we came to a high cliff where the canyon opened out into the desert. Having felt some sense of accomplishment, I looked for a shaded place to have lunch. After having feasted on canned sardines, canned peaches, and a bit-of-honey bar, I closed my eyes and sought out my own "vision quest". I felt a sense of awe about the area where so many ancient travelers had preceded me down this canyon, leaving their strange markings on the canyon walls. Remembering the guides' words to "take only pictures, leave only footprints" I crushed the empty cans and stuck them in my tote bag and headed back to the parking lot.

In closing, I would just like to say that it was a trip worth taking and one I would recommend to anyone who enjoys "touching the past".

Additional Photographs
by Linda Cooley

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