Tag Archives: petroglyphs

Hiking the Tortalitas

[To get to the Tortalitas jump on the I-10 north to Tangerine, east to Dove Mountain Blvd and they’re happy for you to park in the Ritz Carlton Hotel — there is a map of the different trails at the trail head, and they are very well marked]

I’d never been up to the Tortalitas before, they are quite beautiful and not as busy as they could have been on the last sunny day of 2015. The trail starts off in the sandy wash bed full of winter-flowering chuparosas (justicia californica), the air full of the whir of hummingbird wings alli chupando, and the whistles and trills of their territories claimed.

Tortalitas

Tortalitas

We took the wild burro trail, climbed up past petroglyphs (the reason we came out here).

Tortalitas

Tortalitas

We passed more modern ruins too, an old cistern and poles of iron that of course were shot at. the collection of old bullet casings was unexpected, however.

Tortalitas

Tortalitas

Tortalitas

Then a climb up to the point where you can see the lushness of the wash below.

Tortalitas

Further up past limestone waves.

Tortalitas

Past saguaro picture frames.

Tortalitas

Up to Alamo Springs, remnants of an old damn from the ranch up here, and holes in the rock drilled by native peoples as water holes. There’s an informative sign even up here, it’s a little weird how much signage is here really, probably reflective of the hotel.

Tortalitas

And then back along the…I have forgotten the other trail that you come to at Alamo Springs, but it makes a nice circle and takes you from view to view on your way back:

Tortalitas

Tortalitas

until you reach the wash again, full of grass and pebbly sand beneath your feet that you can follow back down to the parking lot.

Tortalitas

And soon enough back to the hummingbirds.

Tortalitas

We passed a little colony of rabbits as well, but sadly didn’t see any javelina or deer.

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Petroglyphs!

I found them! Eureka!

Well, my dad found them first…and took me too see them out in the desert, we drove and drove, walked and walked…I’m being cagey because I doubt that their exact location should be public knowledge. Because they are just there, you can touch them

It’s extraordinary to touch them, to stand in front of them in the middle of the desert, to search for them under stones. Here’s another, this motif could be seen several times, I don’t know what it means but it has sent my mind imagining of course, mysteries…

There were many more, if you click on the above images you’ll get to my flickr page where you can see all of them, they were truly extraordinary. At one time there were a great deal more, but the rock face is splitting off and falling away, I am sure myriads lie hidden, face down on the earth or crumbled into shards of rock. I happily climbed the cliff faces (not that I need an excuse to climb cliff faces). And the good news is that I can still do it in chanclas, to the right is a steep slope of scree, and myself showing off my powers in flip flops. I suppose I could have more grace and poise, but I am glad I’m still half wild, I worry sometimes that I face incipient and total domestication. Not that sensible footwear means domestication. I hadn’t actually realized the kind of hike we were going on or I might have been tempted into trainers, but I really hate wearing socks if the climate does not absolutely require it.

My brothers and I spent quite a bit of time looking for petroglyphs back in the day, we searched every cliff face within miles of our house I think…little did we know that the internet would soon be along with every location noted, as I have now found out. Still, there’s no real information there on the ancestors who carved them, and no knowledge of what they mean, I suppose they would have had to have been done by the Tohono O’odham, or those who came before? I remember reading a book by Frank Waters years ago about the ancient migrations and how they were tracked on the stone, but it’s been too long for me to remember properly. It was pueblo myth anyway, I doubt the folks down here would agree with it.

It was truly a gorgeous day in the desert today though, and one of the prettiest washes I’ve seen I think. It must be spectacular after the moonsoons, and full of deep pools perfect for swimming.They would collect below the pyroclastic flows of Rhyolite Tuffs like this one

My dad, and my fount of all geological knowledge is at the end of it, an ancient lava flow. The rock is beautiful

There was water there today, left from the rain over Thanksgiving, but there’s definitely more seeping through the rocks in several places. We continued walking down the wash back towards the car

Final views of what I love about this place, saguaros:

Barrel cacti growing out of a rock face

And ocotillos against a blue blue sky

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