Friday, January 23, 2015

The Borax Man of Death Valley

Gepenre's Illustration of the Borax Man
I've been traveling to Death Valley since I was very young. One of the earliest trips I remember was over Thanksgiving in 2007, and we camped high up on the exposed alluvial fan below Hanaupah Canyon in our then-new off-road tent trailer. The nights were particularly cold that year, even though the summer had been among the hottest since the 1980s. The winds were howling, though by comparison not unusually much. To my ten-year-old self at the time, it was a night of terror. The winds, coupled with the chill and unphathonable darkness of the Death Valley Night, led my mind into a maze of fear of the dark, the wind, and the unknown. While on a brief expedition outside, I remember looking out onto the porcelain-white salt flats of Badwater Basin and seeing a shadow, from my vantage no larger than a toothpick but the size and shape a human would be from several miles away. The full moon cast a shadow on the flats from something standing out on the salt. It was then is retreated into the safety and warmth of our mobile home. As the winds howled on, the memory gradually faded into obscurity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Death Valley Petroglyphs #2

One of the larger designs
Another plain view site that I visited back in 2013, this interesting site was also on the main path from the valley bottom to the high mountains above, in this case between Mesquite Flat and Hunter Mountain. At first they blend in well, but once you start seeing them, there are glyphs everywhere. The designs themselves aren't terribly vandalized, but there are false designs everywhere as well; images of teepees, chiefs, and bows and arrows are found at several spots. Other glyphs in less-visible spots- were pristine and very nice.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Death Valley Petroglyphs #1

Note the spray paint on the rock.
This is a site that is in plain view, and as such is (in my opinion) the most endangered rock art site in Death Valley. Viewing the deliberate deterioration of such works of ancient art are truly terrible and illegal, so it is wise to view this as a lesson in why these sites should be protected.

With that covered, time to talk about the site. There are a few small panels, each packed with unique designs. When I heard about it, I thought this site would be smaller, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the extent of the glyphs. The tuff here is not found anywhere else in the vicinity, so it's easy to see why the natives chose this area to do their doodling. Unfortunately in some of the glyphs it is difficult to tell if they are original or vandalism.