Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rodman Mountain Petroglyphs Adventure

Back in March my son and I went on an adventure. Actually it was a chance for him to get some driving miles under his belt with his drivers permit...grin
Destination The Rodman Mountains.

View Larger Map
I'm really happy I figured out how to put Google Maps on the blog...grin Put your mouse in the middle of the picture and you can move it. By using the scroll on the mouse you can zoom in or out with the image or use the + or - tabs to zoom.
Geographically These mountains are between Barstow(Newberry Springs) and the Lucerne Valley, in the High Desert of Southern California.

It is a bit of a drive out there but the amazing things you will see will make it worth it.
We got some gas and some water and started heading east. You have to pass through the town of Lucerne Valley and then make a left way down the road and head out into the desert. There is no direct way to get there so we followed a power line road to get to Lucerne. I had the boy stop so I could get a picture of these small flowers that were making a purple carpet on the desert floor.

They are these tiny little flowers. I could barely get and image on my macro setting.

My son doesn't get me at these times. Here he is waiting impatiently in the truck wanting to drive down the road, and I'm laying on the ground taking pictures of tiny
Most of the drive is all graded dirt road. It is well travel by Off Roaders and there Motorhomes.
My son did pretty well, kept a good speed, doesn't white knuckle the steering wheel so much anymore. It was good experience driving on that type of road. At one point you are as far out into the desert trails as you can get then, there is a fork in the road. There is a Freeway direction sign here. You wouldn't see that Freeway for another 2 hours towing a travel trailer loaded with dirt bikes and such.

The other little sign to the right, if you can't read it, says "Cinder Pit 7 Mi."
Cinder Pit here we come. Along the way was this split rock that had paint all over the face.

It is the entrance to a mining operation of some sort. The satellite images show a bunch of holding ponds (dry now) up next to some hills. We went and took a look. Well I took a look my son waited impatiently in the truck waiting for us to go. I would leave the door open and he would move the truck back and forth trying to close it.
At the mine was this old Santa Fe Railroad boxcar. (Great more train
It is riddled with holes. I look at this and think that the National Rifle Association should be in charge of all gun ownership and you can't own one until you know what to shoot at and when to shoot at it. Stupid Idiots!

Maybe it is our failing California school systems, and these idiots can't read. It says Santa Fe on the side, not Shoot Here...sigh
We traveled on down the road and up and over a mountain pass. Heavy Trucks and Equipment travel this road, and you can see what they haul as you come around the bend. A Volcano! Ok a Cinder cone.

What's black on the outside and red in the middle...not mom's pot roast. All the cinder the State of California uses on Icy roads Comes from land forms like this. This desert was volcanically active a couple of hundred thousand years ago. The land scape is dotted with Cinder Cones and Lava Fields like this. You almost get to the gate at the operation there and a 4X4 trail on the right appears.
To the east of this Cone is a Lava Field. It must have been a special place for the Pre-historic man 10 to 15 thousand years ago. They liked chipping images into the basaltic rocks at the edge of the Lava Field.

I can't tell if this is new or not. Knuckleheads once again have to mess things up. It takes a while to chip and image through the desert patina on the rocks. The lighter the image the newer it is.
This is a Petraglyph or more likely a knucklehead glyph.
We finally show up in the area were the heavy concentration of glyphs are.

More Vandalism.

My earlier comments aside. I kind of see a reason to shoot at this sign. At the Bottom, in fine print is says something about the Bureau of Land Management. This part of the government is something of a problem here in the State of California. I understand we should be good stewards of the land and all that but The BLM Has closed off or confiscated a good portion of the Desert so people can't use it. Protecting some fly or something is there usual excuse. Maybe if the idiots with the guns would just shoot at the letters B, L, and M this wouldn't be too bad.
Stupid Idiots! I'm still talking about the BLM here. Not far from this sign the BLM installed a fence/guard rail contraption for reasons that are unclear. This fence thing is made of Aluminum.
My tax dollars at work. Some other form of environmentalist, recyclers, ok, lets call them thieves, have cut away some of the Aluminum. Grrrr.
I have controlled my breathing, 10, 11,12..
Here is a picture of another tiny flower to sooth me.

It is a bit of a climb to get to the area of the Petraglyphs. There is a little gap in the lava flow that water runs through when it rains here. That is where the glyphs start.
This is a very old one. You can see the patina forming over where the image was chipped into the stone.

I wonder what the image is. Is there a story or lesson that was taught by this image.

The sun and heat cause the patina to form so if some of these rocks are shaded they might look newer. Menorah?

They are everywhere, high and low. If you look close you can see where modern sub-humans have scratched the rocks with sharp metal tools...sigh

When the oldest glyphs were laid down on these rocks the Earth was coming out of an Ice Age,
The climate was much different here. Not so much desert, more greener, water more plentiful.
Mammoths wondering around.

grid patterns, weird figures, hash marks, I just don't get it yet.
Some still, are very interesting.

My son Climbed all over the hills looking at things.

I wonder if the grid square looking glyphs are representations of the Lava Field and it is part of a story of how they formed.

These are recognizable.

My son's hand in the
looks creepy.

This one is my favorite.

This next one could be a plant with the roots below.

The Sun, A Star?


Found some Desert flowers.

This is the little cleft we were in. Water ran through here at one time. You can see how it has smoothed the rocks in the stream bed.

Here is my son heading back out for perspective.

We found more on the way out. The Batteries in my camera were fading so I was grabbing images as I found them. This next one is interesting.

We figured this next rock was once up on the hill edge and erosion brought it down covering some of the glyphs.

I do think some intrepid Archeologist finally figured out what some of these grids, lines and boxes really are.

Dumb A-holes...Funny but still I kind of feel this is sacred ground and you should come look but not mess with everything.
My son was antsy to get back in the truck to drive some more. So we hiked back to the truck. The BLM in their infinite wisdom makes you park several hundred yards away, down near the road.
We had a great time and after this road trip he probably had 100 miles behind the wheel all day.

I wouldn't say that this place is spiritual. I never got that feeling while there. During a time when water ran through that cleft I bet it was a rather special place. I bet the Desert Tribes of 150 years ago were still chipping at these rocks.
A few weeks later I took the significant other out to see the glyphs. We took a picnic and walked around some. I took more pictures, but this time there were tons of flowers in bloom so I took pics of those. There were a bunch of these flowers.

The really good ones had this red center to them. It actually started out a dark orange fading to red then almost a purple in the center.

These orange ones with the yellow centers were pretty. but once again they were tiny.
I'm really getting a kick what you can see on the camera's macro setting.

When there is an area with all the same color I try to get down low to see if the color stands out better.

Didn't work so well
This was a great time to be out there. The color was in the desert. Even the color green.
Mostly yellow though.

Then there was this Blue number.

A breeze had started blowing. I waited for several minutes to get this picture.
It is a great area to visit. You would need a high clearance vehicle to get to the glyphs,
but a good truck would make it there. Now if we could just chase of the idiots with the guns, the vandals and the BLM.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hill 582

I love it when I stumble onto something cool! I Stumbled on a hill. Hill 582.

It actually has a heart warming little story to it. My son and I found it on a drive to find some colored soil. He is making something called a Dorodango, a ball made of colored soil, hand rolled into a shiny Beautiful orb. (follow the link they are really interesting) It is a Japanese art form I guess.
We took a drive down into Cajon Pass to a place called the Blue Cut.
I'm not sure why they call it that, the colored out cropping of rock there is more a green color. We got really lucky by going there. The recent rains had washed some fine green powder down onto the road and we just scooped some up. He said he would like to find some red soil too, so we started to drive around in the pass area to find some. We never found any "Red" soil but we did find a hill.
We drove up this dirt road off of Highway 138 and we came to one of the many Railroad Crossing in the pass and spied a kind of park like setting on a hill with some retaining walls. To us it looked like someones residence. I never knew there was homes in that part of the Pass. I have looked down into this area from the rim of the Pass a few times and don't remember a home there.

View Larger Map
(This is the Google Maps version a close variation of Google Earth. You can move the picture around with your mouse. )
We back tracked and took the green soil home so he could start balling it up. I in the mean time fired up Google Earth, one of my favorite online tools, and focused into that area.
One of the cool things about Google Earth is that people can post pictures they have onto the maps that are displayed and it shows up as a small blue and brown square. There was a Square over this hill we had looked at. The picture that displayed wasn't for a home it was for something called Hill 582, It showed some sort of Memorial. Back to Google, type in Hill 582, there is a website with lots of pictures. Well since I started this I have been reading this site and stopped back by the hill, this time driving right up onto it.
I better back up some, because people may not know what Cajon Pass is. It is a Canyon that separates the San Bernardino mountains and the San Gabriel mountains. The Pass was probably used by the Early Native Americans in the area in ancient times to trek into the High Desert area and to access the High Mountains to avoid the high summer heat of the valley. The word "Cajon" is a derivative of the Spanish word for box, pronounced "Ka-hone". It truly is a Box Canyon with high mountains surrounding it with a lower summit at the 3000 to 4000 foot level.
Some of the local peaks in the area are at the 9000 foot level.
The pass is formed by Plate Tectonics, where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate come together. The World Famous San Andreas Fault runs right up the Cajon Pass and it has cause some rather awesome Natural Rock Formations. This is the location of the Mormon Rocks, a nice setting for any movies or TV shows that need a strange setting. I remember a Star Trek episode with those rocks in it.
This Pass was the easiest way to get down into the San Bernardino/Los Angeles Basin, and a shorter route to the San Diego area. The old Spanish trail wound through here, as well as the Mormon Trail.
Then the Railroad ran tacks down the pass, then Route 66 was run down the hill from Cajon Summit. Those two transportation corridors were the start of the boom that was Southern California. Now Interstate 15 runs down some of the roadway of Old Route 66. Not to be outdone by Man, Mother Nature also runs the wind down that Pass. During certain times of the year the Santa Ana Winds blast down the Pass and into the Valley, blowing your trash cans down the street and tipping over 18 wheelers.

Another little tidbit of history is about a large encampment that was set up in the Pass near a place called the Blue Cut. This area is a narrows that the Cajon Creek, Railroad and Highway Dept, Had to cut through some Blue/Green Granite to follow the Canyon down into the Valley.
During the Depression a lot of Oklahomans, displaced by the "Dust Bowl" were following Route 66 to California in search of work. Well the locals did not take a liking to these "Okies" and the Federal Government set up a camp just above the Blue Cut to keep the locals and "Okies" separated.

Cajon Pass is a major Transportation Corridor. A good portion of the goods that America uses, goes through this pass to parts eastward. Interstate 15 has tons of the Truck traffic. Then there is the trains. I'm very familiar with the train traffic in this area. My apartment is less than 800 feet from those tracks that take goods out of the L.A. Basin, and goods back into the L.A. area, as a matter of fact I can hear one now as I type. Large Diesel Electric Locomotives lugging heavy loads past us several times an hour.

Which brings us back to Hill 582, and a new term I found when reading up on this hill, and it's use. "Railfanning". Those people among us that love all things trains.

I don't have much interest in trains, but I can see why they may interest people. Seeing a Locomotive pulling a huge line of rail cars, and see all that power going by can be very exhilarating. Last year I posted on our trip down to L.A. by train and I posted the short video of the Steam Locomotive that was at the San Bernardino train station. There is a link between this hill and that locomotive.

From what I have learned the Cajon Pass is a world renown site for Railfans. There is several places along the tracks leading to the top of the pass to view, photograph, or shoot video of the trains as they go by. Best viewing places, The Blue Cut, near the Mormon Rocks, The actual Pass at the top where Hwy. 138 is right next to the tracks and you can look down on the trains, and Hill 582.

The start of my education of Hill 582 was when I found a website run by a gentleman From Switzerland, Werner Meer, who posted a narrative and a lot of photos about the hill written by another gentleman, Don E. Toles, known as the Hilltender. The History of Hill 582.
I guess back in the 1980's Mr. Toles started parking on this hill, on a fire break that the Forest Service had cut on top. It actually is a perfect site for Railfans. It sits in the middle, and above, of all the action. There are tracks to the north,

and south of the hill,

giving you and excellent view as the trains pass by.

Some time around 1991 Mr. Toles started planting Trees and shrubs there on the hill. The hill didn't have a name yet, but it was a favorite spot to watch the trains go by. Just to the north of the hill, before they added a new parallel track next to the original 1913 track, there was a signal block that was numbered 582A and the hill took on the name. The sign is now on the hill since it was removed and a new signal was put in for the new tracks.

Mr. Toles and some friends, some who worked for the Railroad, kept fiddling with the hill and planting, building retaining walls and pads to sit and view. Somewhere along the line they ran a foul of the US Forest Service. The USFS took down some trees and plants they deemed invasive. I guess Mr. Toles met with the local Forest Service Botanist and they came to an agreement even to the point of letting them get some pine trees form the local ranger station to plant on the hill. A couple of brush fires have come through and burned and killed some of the trees but the hill lives on.
Here are some pictures.
From Hwy. 138.

Near the Southern Tracks.

On top of Hill 582.

It was very peaceful up there in this Oasis on a hill.
There is Rosemary in bloom up there.

They even have a irrigation system. Probably a French Drain type system. Just pour water down these pipes. Cover when done and put a rock on top.

They even have a place to store seeds for the local birds and squirrels.

The Ammo can is a Geo-cache and sign in place.
There is note pads you can right down your thoughts and name in.

I didn't look what the Cache was but I did write something in the journals.

It is so true that my hand writing is crappy.
Mr. Toles, the "Hilltender", and his friends have been happily caring for this hill. Even sitting up on the hill During the Holiday season with signs wishing the train crews "Happy Holidays".
They have had to abandon the hill due to fire, but they come back and rebuild. Some of the people involved with the hill have passed on now, but they are remembered on the hill with small memorials.

One of the Gentleman memorialized here was instrumental in getting an old Steam Locomotive, 3751, rebuilt down in the San Bernardino area. I posted some pictures of that train in an earlier adventure.(The Olvera Street one) I had found a website showing how they rebuilt this excellent piece of American History.

And I said I wasn't a
I guess in 2005 or so the Railroad decided to put in another set of tracks to parallel the original 1913 tracks down through the pass. There use to be a tunnel the trains went through but to put the new tracks in the Railroad had to just cut a huge gap in the hill.

Some one was able to save the date stamped top of the tunnel and it was placed on Hill 582.

I had a great time up there but the tracks were quiet while I was there.
I saw some California Poppies down by the north tracks.

I love using the Macro setting on my camera for close ups of flowers and such things.

There were a lot of Poppies

This next shot had the potential for being a little dangerous. I had to cross the tracks on foot to get the shots of the Poppies. There hadn't been any trains for the 20 minutes I had been there so one had to be coming any time. A warning! Stay off Railroad tracks! I couldn't resist getting this shot. This is a grade so the trains move pretty slow here. So not heeding my own warning I grabbed the proverbial shot down the tracks.

No sooner did I click the button on my camera a train horn sounded. So I moved off the tracks and back on to Hill 582. From there I channeled my inner Railfan and I set my camera to the video setting. Modern cameras are so cool. Sorry for the poor The Train I had heard was just passing over the top of the pass.

I got more video, as it got closer.

The Engineer waved at me as he passed by. I waved back. I can't tell you how bad I wanted to do what we use to do as kids and pump my arm to signal him to blow the

I Thank Mr. Toles for building this hill into what it is today. He and his friends have been through Fires and Vandals, and extreme weather but always the hill is kept nice.
I put everything back as it was as I left the hill. When I go back again I will bring some wild bird food and some water for the plants.