Monday, December 31, 2007

Year's End Outing with Rock Art

Here are some scenes of my last hike of the year, yesterday, in a very fine, moderately isolated canyon in western Colorado (the diligent can surely deduce the location, but my current stance is that nowhere needs any publicity whatsoever). First, the context, with frozen waterfall. The bedrock is basement metamorphic schist, overlaid by some odd red granitish stuff I couldn't place, followed by cliff-forming Wingate sandstone:

Unsurprisingly, the Indians liked this place. Inhabitants included Desert Archaic culture, possibly the Fremont and certainly historic Ute. One sees hand prints pretty often, but I was pleased to find one that strikes me as a bear print:

Some abstracts, in their spectacular gallery:

The same up close:

Historic Ute presence is clearly visible here. I hesitate to identify the beastie. The first thing that leapt to my mind, somehow, was horny toad, but it seems hard to justify any taxon with close examination:

An elegant pecked herbivore body, reminds me of the graceful forms of Old World rock art:

Another panel in splendid context:

Detail of above. Again, hand prints are common enough, but the unusual inclusion of the arm here conveys a reaching, grasping which is highly evocative. Though hardly objectivly warranted, thoughts come to the mind of desparation, clutching at the stone:

Finally, what can this engraving evoke save hunting magic? The bighorn sheep, perched in a high place, surveying the territory; likewise the artist/hunter, eulogizing his prey in stone as he too scans the canyon for another animal.

And so the author, high against the cliff, crouching and looking at the canyon, red stone, frozen stream, the tribes gone, the sheep still here.

Long time gone.