posted: November 22nd, 2012 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: On the ceiling of a massive rock deep in a setting known as Indian Hill, smoke spots were everywhere. The setting was cozy, warm and seductive, prompting Tony Feathers to comment about the romance of the area. “Imagine lying here beside a cozy fire. It’s cold but you’re snug in your sheep skin furs. The children are asleep, and you’re with the right lady.”
Tony and his significant other, Betty, laughed and then we wandered around, looking for further evidence of this bygone era. Both work winters in Anza Borrego Desert State Park (Tony is a musician –LISTEN) and like me, they are fascinated with bygone Native American cultures.
Venturing to Indian Hill is not for everyone. In very general terms our journey into the past took us up Mortero Wash, then along a 4-wheel drive to a safe spot large enough to squeeze my pickup into the surrounding cholla forest. From there we hiked several miles toward some of the the most extensive boulder fields I have ever seen. It was here among these granite boulders that the Kumeyaay Indians made their living over a period of hundreds of years. The evidence was everywhere and it assumed different forms.
As we wandered we counted dozens of morteros. These large rock pockets were created over the years through the pounding of agave and other plant materials into a flower, later used for the making of bread.
In some places we also found pictographs, suggesting a spiritual connection of the group with the Great Unknown. Though no one can say for sure what the symbols represent or which members of the tribe created them, from other sites I know experts believe the sun was a common motif and that a “Shaman,” or spiritual leader, might have created the figures. Likely some of the pictographs here represented the sun.
We continued our wanderings finding several boulders where smoke patterns were thick. And then we found the massive boulder pictured here. By our calculations it measured about 120 feet by 60, meaning it would have accommodated three or four Airstream trailers similar to ours.
L to R: Tony Feathers at morteros, boulder fields near Indian Hill, pictographs.
Casting around we found several small rocks on which to sit and tried to absorb the feelings of the time. Unlike the Kumeyaay our day was free of strife and work, and here in this place and at this moment of time we felt an immense separation from all that was secular and mundane. We imaged a gentle sun would shine forever, that the winds would be light and warm, that hunting would be productive, and that all would remain bright and good.
Reluctantly we returned to reality, leaving behind national treasures we hoped would continue to be valued by all visitors.
AIRSTREAM TRAVELS — AT AND AROUND THANKSGIVING:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Sometimes the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy