I was hiking toward a previously unexplored canyon when I looked down a wash and had that “those rocks look right” moment you get sometimes. Found this small site and what appears to be a grinding slick atop one of the boulders. In my experience, small petroglyph sites, particularly near the mouths of canyons, often acted as sign posts for more significant areas deeper within. The grinding slick, however, would indicate that they did linger here. Not sure why, though the site does have a splendid view of the flats to the north.
Seeing as the sheep are not the stylized classic Coso boat-shaped sheep, I’d posit that this is an older site - but am no expert.
After finding the petroglyphs, I continued up the canyon. I knew there were two springs in it and was eager to see what else awaited. Situated as it is on the east side of the range, the canyon lacks the precipitous basalt sides of its neighbors. It is much more sandy. A couple miles in, however, the west side becomes steeper and, at its highest, an escarpment of volcanic rock appears.
To the east, pinnacles of great jumbled boulders pierce the sandy slopes. It’s a lovely hike with great views all the way up. The springs were preceded by dense willows and thick sage - the kind of ground blanketing foliage that makes snake season harrowing. Poking through it with a trekking pole mitigated much of the risk but snakes are always in the back of my mind when plunging a booted foot into depths unseen.
The willows were so thick around the lower spring it was impossible to see if there was surface water. The uppers springs, however had a nice corridor on the canyon bottom and three pools of water. Still, sign of large fauna was sparser than I expected. It could be that the springs two canyons over and two miles as the raven flies are simply easier to access - the local bands of mustangs certainly seem to prefer them. Still, it’s curious.
The feature I wanted to get a closer look at was on the east slope. I’ve never seen anything of this size before. It’s definitively not a hunting blind. The intact portion of it is about 34 paces - so somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 feet but there are indications it had been longer when first built. I have no idea but it’s damn impressive. Across from the wall on one of the only boulders with a flat enough surface to facilitate a workspace there is what appears to be a mortar and/or grinding slick - difficult to say for certain however.
And, it can’t entirely be ruled out that the wall was entirely BLM’s handiwork though for what purpose, I don’t know. It seems too high up the slope to be for access to the springs. At one point they did pipe water down two miles to a tank near the mouth of the canyon but the amount of labor and time it would take to build such a wall seems to rule out the Bureau of Land Management, at least to my way of thinking.
Much of the time I come away with more questions than answers and this canyon was no exception.