Our very own GCAS President, Kyle Meredith, has dropped by this part of the blogosphere to take us all on a virtual trip that he and two other hardy GCAS members (plus one mascot) recently took to a petroglyph site near Deming. All text and photos are courtesy of Kyle Meredith. Away we go!
We started out on a county road just past the blimp station, but didn’t get far before we encountered a locked gate. Further down the pavement we took another turn in the right direction and were driving through the most flowery landscape we’ve ever experienced down there—vast expanses of yellow blooms (but no poppies.) The road started out okay, and I had my GPS to follow toward our destination, but after a turn onto a road we could barely see, the flowers covered the trace entirely. The road was literally invisible in spots, and the only way we knew we were on the right track was by following our marker on the line on the GPS screen. It wasn’t the worst road we’ve ever driven, but we did have to build up one spot to cross the arroyo.
So, the road went on for a few more miles in the middle of what seemed like an unexplored wilderness (except for the fat cattle) until we saw another, less obscure road in the distance. We had assumed this would be the ultimate spot for social distancing, but shortly we caught up with a couple of rockhounds from Michigan wintering in Deming. We spoke—standing apart from each other—for a few minutes at the foot of the hill, asking about petroglyphs. They didn’t know anything about the petroglyphs we were looking for, so we drove off in a direction that took us off the main road.
It was only a mile or so from there that we stopped near an arroyo at what looked like the shortest distance up the peak, setting up camp just off the road in the least amount of flowers we could find. We all started walking up the hill, but Josh got bogged down with all the chalcedony he was collecting and never made it to the top. We had stopped at a large rock outcrop about half-way up that we hoped would be the site of the petroglyphs, but no such luck. It wasn’t a long climb, but quite steep and tricky on a talus slope the rest of the way to the summit.
There weren’t a lot of petroglyphs to speak of, and most were abstract in nature, but I did have a favorite:
Plus, there was some interesting architecture like a breastwork around the summit, and of course spectacular views in every direction, including Cooke’s Peak in the distance. We came back down to camp in time for happy hour and had our traditional G&Ts and enjoyed a delightful windless late afternoon in a most remarkably fragrant golden desert landscape. Altogether we walked about 1½ miles from camp and back.
The next day we resolved to not go back home the way we came, and in spite of being at least twice the distance, it took about half the time. We weren’t in any hurry to get back home, though, so we decided to stop where we had encountered the Michiganians (Michigueños?) [It's "Michiganders" - ed.] to see what kind of rocks they might have stopped for. Interestingly, we didn’t find any good rocks, but Josh was the first to call out that he had found a potsherd. Now, I don’t know if these people had been collecting or even if they knew they were at an archaeological site, but we continued to look around and found many lithics and sherds, including a couple of painted ones. The perimeter of artifact scatter seemed to be quite limited, and we wondered if it might have been a small agricultural field. We didn’t see any clear evidence of pueblo architecture, but there was a kiva-sized depression. Hard to tell if there were any pithouse depressions.
Continuing down the road, we stopped again at a random location and saw another potsherd or two, but nothing like a definitive site. I was hoping we might make it a GCAS field trip, but it's quite far away for a day trip, plus the climb up the hill was was exhausting and especially dangerous coming down, and there isn't a large or impressive collection of images to see. We can do better, but I wanted to share this little adventure with everyone who may not have been able to get up close and personal with the beauty of the desert in bloom.
Kyle, thank you for taking all of the GCAS on your, Josh's, Greg's, and Layla's reconnaissance mission. A Springtime bloom in the Chihuahuan Desert can be fleeting, and it seems you were there at just the right time. If only your photos of the fields of flowers could be Scratch-N-Sniff!