This time I am prepared: sun hat, water bottle, crocs. I’m outfitted for hiking in the desert and climbing rocks. Ready for blazing heat, ravenous thirst, and amazing petroglyphs. The day is cooperating. Lots of cloud cover keeping the temperature down; a cool breeze blowing in from the east. I couldn’t have planned a better day.
I set off at an easy pace, making my way through a maze of creosote and mesquite. Every few yards I stop and look for the creosote, then head toward them. The mesquite has thorns the size of a sewing needle; I steer clear of it.
Starting up a hill, I develop a walking pattern that later in the day will save my life. Only I don’t know it at the time. I walk a few feet, stop, assess the area: ground, rocks, surrounding flora then move on a few more feet.
This is snake country; the mesquite are not the only things here with a bite. There’s also scorpions, red and black centipedes with claws (no lie), and spike-armored horn toads. So I walk as if I’ve lost something and am trying to find it and I look at the surface of every rock before putting my hand on it.
It’s crazy, wild stuff; hunting for petroglyphs. Nobody knows what they mean; experts can only guess at the who, what, when and why. I think most of them are recordings: events, animals, fish, birds, people. It’s like me being out here taking pictures; recording what I see, what I feel.
My biggest reward surprises me at the top of the hill. It’s a drawing that resembles a prehistoric elephant, like a wooly mammoth. I get my pictures then inspired by the view, I sit on a rock just taking it all in before making the trek along the long hilltop, through thousands of more rocks with their ancient carvings, down to my home on wheels.
Late in the afternoon, I decide to cross the road to the remains of an Indian village. As I walk down the pebbled path, I continue the pattern of walk a few feet, stop, assess, move on. A horn toad scurries across my path. It stops and looks at me; I’ve never seen a horn toad in person. What do I do?
I say, “Hi there, how you doing?” Then I ask it to please stay right there so I can take its picture. Wonder of wonders! I walk around it, getting the best angle, telling this exotic desert creature how awesome and beautiful it is and it’s just standing there as if posing for the dozen or so shots I take. Either it was mesmerized by me or it was just taking a whiz!
Moving on, I keep my eyes on the ground first then the nearby area. The sign says this was a prehistoric village. Archeologists have excavated three different types of dwellings. I read the plaques, take more pictures. Further down the path, this time I freeze. A snake is stretched out in the path. It looks like a baby rattler, triangular head meaning it’s poisonous, undeveloped tail rattle.
I move a bit closer to get a good photo. Instant aggression from the snake, lunging, slithering sideways, keeping me in its sights, making for the brush cover on the side of the path and it’s gone.
An angel beside me says, “That was close. Now let’s go back and enjoy the sunset!”
(aka Tin Can Traveler)