The dead and the living, dawn or dusk, on the domes and spires of all the west is ineffably beautiful. Its dry desert country crowds the libraries of heart and mind with volumes of inescapable yearning. The flaming glory of the sun scorches the path. So that touring, not too much unlike the dealing of cards, boot by boot plays wild into the landscapes new and fresh, left untouched by the societies of man.
Listen to “Ecstasy of Gold” by Ennion Morricone from the movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” while you read this post for an enhanced experience. I know, kind of corny.
Thar’s drawings in them thar hills. Of which, I stumbled across quite by accident! Y’all will get some clues as to where, but in respect to those who came before us and the sensitive nature of the petroglyphs, I would rather leave this to be somewhat of a challenge to locate. To the observant, however, the map and pictures would surely not lead them astray. The footsteps mark the path, the wagon the parking area and the small bit of road at the bottom of the map is paved and within Valley of Fire State Park. The topography on the map is accurate and the “spiral” marks the approximate location of the petroglyphs. Should you find yourself in the region, this remarkably well preserved and little known parcel of the past would make a distinctive foray. It is roughly 3 miles round trip if you head straight for the petroglyphs and is not on any marked trail.
For your travels, here are some codes of the west…
Never order anything weaker than whiskey.
It’s alright to cuss, but only around men, horses and cows.
Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.
Never try on another man’s hat
An unofficial designation “Courtyard of the Ancients” was nominated by me personally, as I could find no other for this fascinating locale. It is an open fairly flat patch of desert, perhaps 2 to 3 acres in size, surrounded by stately walls of sandstone. Once inside it is hard not to sense that this was a unique and meaningful place for the native peoples that inhabited this area in the distant past.
Should you enter the courtyard from the Southeast, look to the walls on the right or east side of the courtyard. A small petroglyph man is carved into the rock marking the point at which you should climb to the ledge. This is quite obviously an instruction, which is the first petroglyph I have found that has a very direct and evident meaning. The climb up to the ledge is an easy class 4 of about 30 feet. Up there, one can see how the artist or journalist of the ancients would gaze out over their people and chisel in the stories of the hunt, where to find water or testaments to their Gods.
Over the expanse of effortless centuries, the immensity of storms bound with thunder and filled with rain tear apart the ground, providing a sequel of sorts to each of its predecessor. It is hard in this country to gather raindrops into streams, much less streams into rivers. Most go unnoticed, torn from the land and pulled down into the realm of the roots.
Vast, extent and ornate are the layers of sky, horizon and earth. This park out yonder, in its wild extravagance, exceeds all of the cathedrals of man. The fable of cowboy and injun echo among the rock and ruin. Old wood, patient carvings and used up camps still permeate the west. Holding testament to the proud, the bold and the foolish who set boot or moccasin on the soil of legends.
Having inhaled in the redolent of creosote on so many occasions, I am reminded of a multitude of adventures when among it. In turbid skies, so it seems, does the essence of the desert rise and waft through the air. Ever waiting, ever still until the after effects of far away places bring in the blessed moisture. Standing here on the final leg of the journey, I can wait until the last second as the storm barrels and rolls its way across the region. Drenching the parched landscape, reinventing the desert into a respite of life and good fortune.
End Desert Begin City…