Tucked away inside a canyon of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge is the Hidden Forest Cabin. Built around 1900 by folks unknown, the rustic, single room log cabin was once used by Nevada game wardens in 1936 when the Desert NWR was established. More recently, in 2008-2010, the cabin underwent restoration work by volunteers and the Desert NWR staff. It is open for overnight use on a first come-first served basis. The cabin consists of a wood-fired stove, bed, and table and chairs. A small kitchen area is stocked with a few can goods that people bring up for emergencies. Please keep the cabin clean and in better shape than you found it.
While hiking in the backcountry of Joshua Tree over the winter, the good folks over at Peregriff and I came across this small pictograph site. There isn’t much to the site, just a simple rock shelter with a handful of red pictographs on the ceiling but it is an intriguing find. As far as I know, it was unknown to the Park Service at the time of discovery. It is in a remote and difficult to reach spot.
The Jayhawkers are famous for their harrowing journey through the unexplored lands of Death Valley in 1849 on their way to reach the fabled gold fields of California’s Mother Lode. They made it, but only after burning their wagons and ditching some of their possessions. They are likely the first white people to set foot in the vast alkali valley and are credited for giving Death Valley its name.
Hidden a few miles into the monzogranite maze wilderness of the Joshua Tree National Park lies the “Born Again” Pictograph site. It isn’t an easy site to reach but this rock shelter was once a habitation site and is covered with faded pictographs. The rock outcrop even has a tunnel that was probably used for rites of passage rituals. It is an impressive find worth the effort to reach.
Sometimes in the desert, you can find what you are looking for.
It was already dark by the time we started our drive out into the desert. The sky was completely overcast and the wind was howling. And after a few hours of driving on the highway, it started to rain. Light at first and then heavy and constant. We weren’t exactly looking forward to getting into camp late at night in a heavy rain. But that is what we did. And after more than an hour of driving down rocky dirt roads and navigating across sandy washes, we spotted a faint light off in the murky distance. Minutes later, we rolled into our friend’s camp. They had gotten there earlier in the day and were wisely already hunkered down in their tent. We buckled down in our truck for the night. Wind and rain rocked the truck for hours and made for a restless sleep.
Deep in the wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a site that I call the “Sky Cross” Pictographs. This is a rather large rock shelter with unusual red lines painted across a domed ceiling. The lines form arches across the ceiling and remind me of the night sky. There is even a small sun glyph on the eastern wall. I think a few of the other small designs could also be stellar constellations. Near the rear of the room, a small tunnel leads into another chamber with only a couple of very faint pictographs. This is Serrano and Cahuilla territory and I wonder if any other similar panels of broad bands of pictographs exist?