Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Brand New Ancient Trail

Recently, I've really developed a desire to go and explore the great wealth of alluvial fans down at the southern end of the Santa Rosa Mountains.  There are two reasons for this:

One: Hundreds of years ago, when the ancient Lake Cahuilla filled the lower part of the Coachella Valley, this area was a hotbed of Cahuilla Indian activity.  Generations of Indians lived near the banks of this great lake and flourished due to the richness of life it created.  Even after it dried up, its basin became a large repository for salt which was then traded with other Indian tribes throughout the region.  I know there have to be lots of trails remaining in the area that mark these ancient people's routes of travel.

The second thing that attracts me to the area is that nobody goes there.  Even in our great National Parks and Wilderness areas you will find signs that people frequent even to most remote locations and the highest peaks.  In this place, except for the trails of Ancients, there's no sign anyone has ever gone there.  Except me.

After wandering around for a couple miles I come upon what looks like start of a bedrock mortar.  I think this is probably a good sign.

I jump up onto a nearby bluff and find a faint but followable trail.

There are sections that are actually quite distinct— like this one--while other parts are barely discernible.

Other than the trail, I have found no other sign of human inhabitation except for this little pile of rocks. It's not much but they did not get this way on their own.  Someone had to do this.

The trail becomes more difficult to follow so I wonder if maybe I should head up to this ridge to see if I can spot anything.

It's obvious that there's not a trail here but maybe I can see something interesting.

I wander up the ridge a bit and looking down I see a large boulder covered with petroglyphs.  Had I just continued on the path I was on I'd be there already.

There are petroglyphs on a few boulders here but this is the largest.  

I always love finding new places and I wonder, with a hillside full of boulders, why the Indians chose these to create this rock art on.

Another etching.

In the distance it looks like there's another large boulder which may have some more art on it.  I hike over to it but it just a rock.

Here's another shot of the main boulder.

I find this nice little petroglyph of an early model sports car.  Those Indians were sure ahead of their time.

Beavertail Cactus flowers

I find this piece of what at first glance appears to be pottery.

But it ends up just being a rock.

Silver Cholla cactus flower

Now this IS pottery.  There are several pieces of what was probably a dropped pot.  I'm sure someone got in trouble for this.

Another piece.

And yet another.

Making my way back to my Jeep I come upon this section that looks like it's an old cobblestone wall.  The water coming down this wash has sheared off this section so cleanly that it looks like someone built it here.  This area is so full of fascinating finds that I'm really surprised that no one ever comes out here. That's OK with me, though; I'm glad they don't.


  1. Wow Hal, thanks for sharing. Those petroglyphs gave me the chills. Awesome.

  2. This place is an inspiration. I wonder if the park service knows about it.

  3. I would love to be hiking there!


  4. I know where a few of these trails are, i can see them on google earth and have explored an area near them (near the end of polk) with my uncle.

    My only problem is that most of the roads accessing these alluvial fans are gated either with fencing, cables or piles of rocks. How do you access those old dirt roads behind the orchards?