©Bert Gildart: Sometime in the past, perhaps one to two million years ago, an elephant like animal (known as a Gomphothere) walked across a mud flat in what is now California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The mud was soft and when the huge animal stepped it left a large, defined print that was soon acted upon by yet more mud, but this time of a different consistency.
Perhaps a flash flood carried this new source of “fill” mud, but however it got to the point at which I was looking, the mud filled the deep print then hardened. And so it remained through the eons.
Slowly, however, the forces of erosion acted on the soft mud around the hard mud and the “case” began to dissolve, waiting for Tony Feather, a volunteer park naturalist and accomplished musician, to show me. He trusted me not to define the location, though I can say that we traveled for miles up the Split Mountain Road, stopping at last to hike a remote canyon. The “inverted” print blew my mind because not only did we see ancient prints of the Gomphothere, but also and immediately above the huge elephant track – tracks of an ancient cat.
L to R: Cross lighting reveals geological features popularly known as “Elephant knees”; tracks created millions of years ago by
a Gomphothere and — just above it — by an ancient cat; ghost flower, now blooming in certain washes.
(Click to enlarge)
The day was made yet more interesting when Tony pointed out ancient pictographs and a ghost plant. The contrast-y lighting also made a feature near Wind Caves (also reached during our drive) stand out, and that was a row of what locals call elephant knees. The size is the basis for their name.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park continues to amaze and surprise me and I am grateful to Tony Feather for sharing this amazing information.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
BOOKS FOR SALE:
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. Often 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