Sunday, January 16, 2011

Martinez Canyon Cahuilla Village Site

Saturday, I had the entire day to go hiking and made the most of it.  A friend of mine, Mike, knew of a possible Indian village site up Martinez Canyon and promised to show me where it was.  We've talked about it for a while but since we're both busy and Mike has a new baby at home, it's been difficult to put together an adventure.  This is one I've looked forward to a long time.

We drive as far as possible in Mike's monster truck and get out to start our adventure on foot.  The canyon is very rocky and it's a welcome relief to be on solid ground.

Instead of just going right up the canyon, like a sensible person would, I want to go and investigate the sides of the canyon to see if we can find any trails.

We don't.

But it's not long until we find some evidence of prior Indian inhabitation.

And this bedrock mortar means they lived here for a while.

We leave the canyon again to see if we can find any more evidence of those who came here before us.

And we do but it's not really what we were hoping for.

The canyon narrows and is choked with mesquite and bamboo.  We wish we'd brought a machete--seriously-- because this stuff is thick and nasty.

We make our way through the growth and again leave the canyon.  This time up a very steep Indian trail.

We reach a place that's relatively flat but one that I'd have never considered a potential village site.

But I'd have been wrong.  There are bedrock mortars everywhere.

There are several boulders with multiple mortars.

There are wide ones

Small ones

All in close proximity

And there's this incredibly huge one.

The mortal hole is so deep that it has actually gone all the way through the rock.  That took a LONG time to do.

A lot of food was prepared here and it is incredible to still find a pestle here.  These are usually stolen by ignorant or selfish collectors.

There are sherds of pottery strewn all around.  This piece has part of the rim.

This multi-mortar has filled with dirt but we forgot to bring a broom to clean it out.  Next time, we'll be better prepared.

The canyon below is filled with mesquite which was the primary food source of the people who lived here.  It is astonishing to consider that people survived with nothing but what they were able to find out here.  Left on our own, most of wouldn't last too long out here.

But the Cahuilla were able to not only survive but thrive in this harsh and unforgiving environment.  It is a testament to their hard work and ingenuity. 

And a total lack of supermarkets.  It seems like the Indians were not the only ones who left evidence of their past inhabitation.

I appreciate Mike showing me this very special place and look forward to being able to come back and exploring more in the area.  I'm sure there are many, many more incredible discoveries yet to be made.  I can't wait.


  1. This is so cool. What do you do when you find these places and artifacts? Are they to be left in place undisturbed?

  2. I take only pictures and I leave only footprints.