Thursday, June 2, 2016

Valles and Broad Canyons- Field Trip for ARARA

Last Friday( May 27th,2016), I took a group of 10 very nice people to Valles and Broad Canyons to look at the rock art. I was a field trip leader for the annual ARARA( American Rock Art Research Assoiciation) convention that was held in Las Cruces this year. Why they thought Memorial Day Weekend in the Chihuahuan Desert was a good fit, I don't really know, but at least on Friday the temperatures were blissfully cool for this time of year. It wasn't cool, mind you, highs were in the low 80's which in the desert sun feels much hotter,but my group and I were grateful we weren't hiking 4 or 5 miles with temps in the mid 90's which is more the norm for this time of year.
 We came in from the west, first on the Corralitos Road and then down the dirt, gravel and bedrock excuse for a road that tumbled us down along Choases Canyon, across Kerr Canyon a couple of times, past Chivatos Canyon and Alamo Well, ultimately to a spot just a short ways down the  east end of the Valles Road itself, where we parked our three vehicles. We hiked down the road and then into Valles itself, where, when we reached the rock art panels, I neglected to take any photos again. Somehow all those folks snapping away, made me feel like it was covered. As many times as I have been down here, I only have a few photos(  some taken with a film camera and a couple with a flip phone) of the place.The first or second time I came here I just made sketches of the petroglyphs, which still make me happy when I look at them all these years later.
 As we went downstream, I kept looking and looking for goggle-eyed figure I had seen four years ago,but couldn't find it. I realized later we were looking in the right place , but just couldn't see it. Some  of the petroglyphs here and at Broad Canyon are so obscured by lichen growth on the blackened rock that the light has be coming at just the right angle to create the shadows necessary to see them.
 We  continued down to the Broad Canyon confluence, where the many humanoid figures( " men in skirts" one of our group joked) were photographed , and then to the black cliffs on the south side of the stream, where some folks rested, while I lead the rest downstream to the eight foot goggle- eyed figure at the base of the very tall cliffs in this section of the canyon.
A lone hiker passed by us, mumbling to himself, as we rested in the shade of the canyon walls and hackberry trees. He may have been an ARARA conventioneer that couldn't attach himself to  any trip so he decided to go it alone. Someone said he was looking for an image called " the guardian." I  didn't know that any of the images here had names, so I probably couldn't have helped,unless he could've described it to me, but it appeared that he was not really interested in interacting at all. Strange. We later realized he must have walked all the way from Valles Tank. It was a bit worrisome because he was wearing way too many clothes for the weather and continued past us mumbling all the way to  8, 10 or who knows how many miles of desert hiking in the last week of May.
 We made our way back slowly.  I spotted a gate up the hill on the south side of Valles, where I had earlier made everyone crawl under the fence. They were happy to go through, but wondered if I had been" testing" them earlier. I sheepishly admitted even though I had gone this way twice before, I had never bothered to look for a gate.
 We were back by 12:30, so I took everyone over to the site at Upper Silva. Only about half of the folks  went  very far down past the first images in the rough little canyon. It was a bit hot by now, but a wonderful breeze that had been blowing at strategic intervals throughout the day kept our intrepid group's spirits up. It seemed that a good time was had by all, including myself, so I considered the day a success.


Carolina Gamez Brunswick said...

Hey Devon, it's Carolina from the field trip, nice blog!

devon said...

Thanks,Carolina. I don't know if you want to take the time,but there are many rock art sites that I've visited in the archives of this blog.