Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moonrise on the Lost Mesa

Moonrise on the Lost Mesa.

I know, it looks like sunrise, but it is a full moon rising. Click the image for the larger version and see the stars. It's night. That's the rising moon lighting up the eastern sky.

You can still make out the distant shapes of the Horned Mountains.

I actually was hoping to do longer star trails but the moon was lighting up so much of the sky, that was not possible. So, instead I was able to get the moonrise looking like a sunrise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chasing the Tlaloc Man

Tlaloc Man is a petroglyph found in rare locations in the southwest. He is thought to be associated with rain and storms. In the southwest, that is a good thing. It is also a glyph I was always fascinated with ever seeing an image of one from Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso.

Except I had only seen it in books, never anyplace I went. I've been to Hueco Tanks several times and saw rock art but since I was usually there as a climber finding Tlaloc took a backseat to the days climb.

So imagine my surprise last year when I not only randomly walking found one almost 4 foot tall! The Lost Mesa is a magical place and there is rock art to be found. I set out in search of it and wandered the sides of a mountain. At first I saw nothing. Then a solitary glyph. Suddenly walking around a rock I see a slab with a 4 foot tall Tlaloc.

Tlaloc is usually described and found as a trapezoidal shaped glyph with geometric designs and goggle eyes. This was it. Not just a Tlaloc, but a big one!
He was not alone either. Carved on the same slab were several trapezoidal outlines. Proto-Tlaloc men? A sketch pad for the final masterpiece? I do not know. Four such shapes were on the same slab face. A tiny Tlaloc was on the side of the rock.

After returning to the mesa this late summer, I found even more. Several examples of the Tlaloc were spread across the mountain. Most were small or "proto" outlines, none were as good as the first one. One looked like the body but the head was never finished.

A collection to say the least.

Here are a few to sample them.

The top image is the big one. This petroglyph is almost four feet tall and stares out at the sky. Four proto-Tlaloc men can be seen beyond on the slab. Two of those are detailed in the second image. The outline is there but the details were never fully finished. Both of these are also in the three fo
ot tall range.

Finally, the third image is of one of the tiny ones. This one is only a few inches tall, yet the trapezoidal shape and goggle eyes make it unmistakably a Tlaloc.

Great glyph at a great location. Yet another area that deserves more visits.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lost Mesa-Big Sky Big Country

Late summer on the Lost Mesa is one fantastic time to be out here. Ok, who am I kidding? Anytime is a good time to be here. It is that during the late summer monsoon season there is always a pretty good chance for some afternoon thunderstorms to build, bringing both rain and big sunsets.

So on a recent weekend out on the mesa I got a chance to see some great clouds and even some rain. Summer 2009 has had some rain out here but it seems to have been a little less than normal as many of the plants that I saw in bloom during prior years were not blooming this year. Now maybe I missed them by a few weeks, but it did seem a little drier here. But who is to let a little rain, or lack of it get in the way of being out on the Lost Mesa?

I am always amazed by the big empty quality of the land here. Big empty spaces. Lonely yet teeming with some energy that cannot be described.
And the sky! That big sky. Montana has nothing on this place.

The open range goes on for miles and I drove across the vastness of it kicking up dust behind me. Open range.....
Your eyes are always looking into the distance here. Looking at distant mountains. Following the swell of the land. Catching a glimpse of pronghorn speeding away. Watching the yucca forest appear suddenly.

And the sky. The big blue sky.

Here are a few examples of that big sky. First a sunrise. The sun pops up over the rolling rangeland and brings the light of a new day. A lonely mountain pops up out of the grass.
Second image is another view of how these mountains pop out of the grass. Each a lone unique peak in a sea of grass.
Third image is one looking across the rolling vastness of 1.2 million acres of open range.
Big open range. Big open sky. Big open country.
It was good to be back.