The Carrizo Plains
July 21st 2005 , full moon. I had decided to drive 450 miles to the Carrizo Plains and visit the “Painted Rock”, in Spanish “La Piedra Pintada”, an isolated monolithic outcrop consisting of cemented Miocene marine sandstone. I had been looking forward to this for sometime. Over the years I heard of the Carrizo Plain, a National Monument often called “California’s Serengeti”, a place in which the San Andreas Fault is a visible geographic force. The Carrizo Plain is also known as the “Cadillac of the San Andreas Fault system”. So I’d done some research, mapping and Googling and ready or not I was going one on one.
The site managed by BLM was just coming off of a seasonal closure for nesting birds of prey. Word was that access to the corral shaped stone canvas was under review for guided tours only.
Arriving at 9:30PM I hiked towards it as the full moon was rising. Exploring until midnight I then headed back to where I had parked and set up my cot next to the van. I slept until 7AM, got up and hiked back to the rock, exploring and taking photos until 11:30AM.
Further Readings on the Carrizo
The following is an excerpt from The Whetting Stone, one of the many books written by author, artist, musician and friend Theo Radic.
“The Painted Rock on California’s Carrizo Plain goes back to the time of Cortés.
The legend says that a vaquero named Sequatero told rancher Archibald McAlister about his Mohave mother who fled her husband, a Mohave chief, after an adulterous affair that resulted in Sequatero’s birth. She fled with the child over the wide Mohave Desert in search of the legendary Painted Rock she had heard about in tales told by her mother and grandmother. She told her young son that runners from far away Mexico came to the village near the Rock (then unpainted) to announce the arrival of Cortés. An aging seer there declared that the new arrivals were the saviors of the native people. Then came news of the murder of Moctezuma, bloodshed, rape and plunder. The people lost confidence in the old seer’s prophecy.
A younger seer, seeking to establish his legitimacy, sacrificed his daughter before the gathered people in order to protect their homeland from the invaders. With this gruesome deed, he put a curse on all those who would attempt to take their homeland. He mixed the blood of his sacrificed daughter with the pigments that were used to paint his pictographic warning on La Piedra Pintada. Sequatero grew to manhood in the nearby village, and told the legend to the rancher who hired him. Whether true or not, the legend has attracted local tourists, many of whom carved their initials in the Rock to such an extent that the images are virtually destroyed today. So luring was this legend that the first photograph of the remote Painted Rock was taken in 1876, used by Kroeber in his Handbook of the Indians of California to show how it looked before destroyed by vandalism.”
Here is another interesting must read…
The Shamanic Tradition in Chumash Rock Art, William D. Hyder and Georgia Lee (c)1994