Thursday, September 13, 2012

Native American Graffiti

September 10

You can mark off Eureka County. As of nine thirty A.M. Pacific time I made the triumphal march across the invisible line into Lander. Captain Frederick Lander headed one of the two survey teams sent to Nevada after the Beat Up the Mexicans and Steal Their Land War of 1848. He was responsible for investigating just what exactly the United States had acquired. The captain must have done okay since he had one of the nine original counties named in his honor. The leader of the other party, Simpson, only merited a mountain, which are a dime a dozen in Nevada.
Once over the line, the ground shifted in an annoying upward manner and I was forced to earn Hickson Summit by dint of hard work, elbow grease, and other important American values. On high my path collided with that of yet another cross country traveler. Troy is an erosion specialist and semi pro bicyclist who quit his job to see the country on two spoked wheels. He started in San Francisco and is aimed towards Maine. As of last count there are eight people in Nevada going coast to coast without the aid of a motor. Troy, Matt, Sally, Boston, Cubby, Karen, Jerry, and myself.
I took a short break from the trail to take a side trip with Dad to the nearby Hickison Petroglyphs. I had great expectations after having seen the well-maintained Native American art at Capitol Reef. The Hickison pictures were indecipherable, the surface upon which they were etched had crumbled and eroded. Tourists had worsened the situation by covering the petroglyphs with their own graffiti.
To understand what we were seeing we were forced to take the word of archaeologists, who make up more B.S. than any other field outside of theoretical physics. They suggested that most of the art was drawn yearly by tribal shamans in an effort to insure a successful hunting season. All non-hunting images were supposed to symbolize either boobs or vaginas, a prehistoric version of Playboy I suppose. It all looked like gobbledygook to me.
In closing, a few words about the topography. Don't worry, it hasn't changed much, except the bowls are growing in size. Monitor Valley, where I started the day, Big Smoky Valley, where I finished, and Reese River Valley, the next in line, are the three largest in Nevada. Big Smoky Valley is encircled by a hydrocarbon haze, and the many dust devils churning about the floor, which appear to be fires burning in the distance, add to the impression. I'll assume the adjective "big" is self-explanatory.

23 miles/3567 total miles

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