Painted Desert/Petrified Forest
From the sign : Geologist's call eroded landscapes such as the Painted Desert Badlands. Summer thunderstorms and winter snowmelt carve the shale and sandstone into mazes of sharp ridges, steep hillsides , and deep V-shaped gullies. Practically waterless, badlands support few plants.
From the info sign : This petroglyph of a cougar or mountain lion was found near Blue Mesa in 1934. It was probably made during the 12th or 13th century. Cougars were revered by the Pueblo Indians for their hunting ability and are the subject of numerous shrines and artwork throughout the southwest.
Sounds close enough to a 1,000 year old petroglpyh to me.......
The Puerco Indians lived along this river valley from approximately 1200 to 1450, when they disappeared. Some Hopi stories talk about other tribes joining them, but exactly what happened and why they abandoned their settlement is unknown. They were a small tribe of 3.5 to 4 ft average height. Short people unite!
The main petroglyph looks suspiciously like a stork carrying a baby, but it shows the keen skill of observing nature in action that the Puerco people had. It is a stork eating a frog or another piece of food.
Notice the storm going on in the distance - every now and then a cool wind would blow and bring a few minutes of light rain. Very welcome on an otherwise very hot and dry desert day. The desert in action.
As the soft sediments erode, they reveal ancient logs that over the millennia have been turned to stone. They were once part of a great tropical rainforest over 220 million years ago. The temperature change acting over time has caused the logs to crack in regular intervals.
A close look shows that some people just can't keep off - footprints along the gully lines show some people have to touch and fiddle. Hopefully they are not preventing future generations from experiencing such awesome beauty and splendour.
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Last updated: 14-Jan-97