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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Edgy Petroglyphs and Rattlesnakes, On The Rocks At Santa Clara Canyon...

Santa Clara Canyon: Nothing shatters this desert rat's Peace In The Valley like the distinct and familiar sound of a rattlesnake... followed by the sight of a rattlesnake a few feet away. There he was, a fat, muscular spring loaded coil... cocked like a gun... daring us to come one step closer. A Mojave Rattler, looking me square in the eye, buzzing like a high voltage power line, and sizing up my intentions and distance with his wicked black forked tongue... daring me to come one step further into his strike zone. Yeah, the rattler was frightening, but he was also intriguing; an unsettling combination, fear and curiosity.

Love 'em or hate 'em, rattlesnakes are intriguing. They're like the bloody car wreck we are compelled to slow down and gawk at... but for the random grace of God, there go we. Why are humans drawn to dangerous to deadly attractions? Shouldn't we look away from the blood and gore of a pileup? Shouldn't we run like hell from rattlesnakes?

After four startled hearts settled down a bit we became fascinated with the Mojave Rattler... from a distance, of course. We kidded and giggled. That's what nervous humans do when they've just dodged a bullet, they make jokes. Weird, eh? "God, he was so close to the trail... "

You want scary? I'll give you scary. Are you one of those people who can't go anywhere without your iPod? You walk with it, hike with it, run with it, and drive with it.... earbuds obliterating the external world like some sort of ray gun?  I know this is going to piss some people off, but it's meant to be instructional. Don't go hiking in rattlesnake country with an iPod... nor, for that matter, in grizzly bear country. And, if you want to know the god's honest truth, why would you choose to jog or bike along a busy street with something that disables your main alarm for danger? Just sayin'... someday, hearing might save your life. 

This Fatboy rattlesnake (I swear to God, he was as big as my forearm) gave us fair warning. The problem was, with all the trail chatting going on between Maikel, Susan, Bobbie, and your's truly, it took a second to realize what the hell was making that whirring "noise." I assumed it was a cricket or some other desert whirligig. I guess my childhood alarm is a little rusty.

Here is a link to a three minute video of Fatboy Slim, with "your's truly" getting a little too close for everyone else's comfort... including Fatboy Slim.

I found the petroglyphs of Santa Clara a little different than other Indian art... avant-guard... "edgy."

The petroglyphs are everywhere... including under foot. These almost look Egyptian-like

Speaking of "edgy..."

Don't know how they got to some of these "airy" places to do their art. Can you find the Cool Cat with sunglasses?

Where do you reckon this "artist" stood to do his work? 

Yeah... there's art about halfway down... All I can figure is that they dangled from hemp ropes by the ankles, after smoking some of it :))

This is one of hundreds of overhanging rocks... be careful walking out to the edge, there might not be anything under you but air.

I had the feeling this rock told a story

Again with the "edgy."

The Cool Cat

Wonderful!!! Except for the ass who had to paint his name...

Exquisite!!!!  and "Don" couldn't get to it

Sometimes, in order to see the art, you must hang out and over the edge

Some of these "symbols" I've never seen before!

We could tell by looking at this guy, that he knew where to find more petroglyphs. Indeed... he put us onto a couple of great spots, like the one's below...

Don't forget to check out the short RATTLESNAKE video

Pleasant dreams, desert wanderers :))


  1. Looks like you were getting a little too close to comfort to that dangerous beauty!

  2. Cool rattler, Mark. And I believe the petroglyphs were made by the Virgin RIver branch of the Kayenta Anasazi. There's some similar stuff made by the Hopi, who are believed by some to be their descendents.

    Looks like your good weather is holding, as it is up here, too. In fact, our temps are the same as yours! Usually, I'm making plans to head to Snow Canyon this time of year, but if this holds, I'll stay put.

    Beautiful photos, as usual.

  3. Wow, great video. You are much braver than I would have been!

  4. Wow that snake is fat. Great video!


  5. What an amazing video! Glad he didn't mind getting his picture taken and was likely as curious of the strange human with the camera as you were of him.

    I've never heard that rattler sound before, so thank you for educating me on what to be listening for whenever I'm out in rattler country!

  6. As always, I am in AWE of your photography (and great hikes)! But no thanks on the video, living with rattlesnakes in the Sierra foothills is way more than enough for me.

  7. You know, Mark, the Mojave Rattlesnake's venom is considered highly toxic and the snake is possibly the most aggressive in the Southwest.

  8. Wow. You guys had a little distance on him, still he was standing his ground. This gives me some pause...okay, I'm back. What was he defending so fiercely?

    I've been thinking my involuntary decibels give me some protection. At least give the Western diamondbacks a chance to scoot. And, I can't even tell you how many times I've heard a "bug" in the desert and paid it no mind.

    Great video. Four poops! ☁☁☁☁

  9. A little too close for comfort but mesmerizing none the less.

    The rock art is most unusual. Some of it looks almost Mayan like with the squares around the symbols.

    Yet another awesome hike.

  10. Mark, you really should get a camera with a longer zoom!

  11. Woow, such beautiful photos!
    It took some guts (or a very powerful telephoto lens) to capture the rattlesnake in this pose. It looks ready to pounce.
    What's strange is that some petroglyphs look like snakes (a bit square though).
    Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great post! Looking forward to catching up soon! Love -Caleb

  13. Gorgeous photos! Not so gorgeous of the snake! At least those guys do warn you. I'm with you and the iPod business--a young school teacher was murdered in a local Montana town about two years ago--snatched at 6am by two guys who thought it would be a lark to kill a woman. She was wearing an iPod as she jogged. Would it have made a difference if she could have heard the guys, who knows. Our teacher granddaughter jogs in that same local MT town and I ride her constantly about leaving the iPod at home.

  14. Oh, I am not sure I was ready to see that "Fall Edition" header go just yet...least not on a Monday! ;-)

    I just came back from a week amidst the Red Rocks, and I have been in serious withdrawal. Your blog photos have kept the Southern Utah beauty fresh in my mind, long after the trip was over. But I fear that the snow photo signals that this too must end soon?

    Well, as they say, "If you don't leave, you can't come back!"

    Looking forward to what winter brings to this blogspace...

  15. So, I finally am able to view videos and I get a dancing snake...Where are the dancing girls??
    Are the petroglyphs from some of the earlier bloggers?? Far out photos again....So nice..Thank-you

  16. Of all poisonous snakes, I like the rattlers the best - they give you fair warning. I also try to remember that they are literally rattling in fear of the giant monster looming over them wishing them death. When hunting they are as silent as can be. They rattle to scare the monsters away. Gorgeous country.

  17. Your video was strangely mesmerizing. Maybe you've missed your calling in life: I can see you with a turban and a flute somewhere in India! -scamp

  18. WOW! That Rattlesnake video is something else....gives me the hibby jibbies.....!!

  19. There is a trail here at the refuge that it known to have a lot of diamonback rattlers, I don't have the nerve to do that trail alone. Maybe someone here will go with me.

  20. Niece Kelly,
    Rattlesnakes are beautiful, in a scary sort of way. Thanks for commenting :)) unc.

    Spotted Dog,
    Thank you for helping to clear up our major questions! The BLM trailhead kiosk had all kinds of info on the Mormon settlers, but not one thing about the original owners :)) Sheesh! This is not the first time we've run into this, either. This is an unusual winter so far... in a scary sort of too dry too warm way. But if we can't change it, might as well enjoy it. BTW, we love Snow Canyon... the dry camping spots, anyway. And be sure to check out Redcliffs Natural Area camp sites... that is a cool spot too, recommended to us by Jim and Gayle of Life's Little Adventures. It's just up the road in Leeds.
    Thanks for your input :))

    We didn't have a choice but to be brave :))

    As big as my forearm :))

    I would characterize the Mojave Rattler as more "confident" than curious... His bite is far worse than his bark (rattle) Thanks!

    Thank you :))
    and, I hear you... when you must live with rattlesnakes you don't want to think about or look at videos of them. Sorry...

    Desert Scruff,
    I know, D. S., I know... that's what frightened me, and keep me at a distance. Thanks.

    Good Duck,
    It's weird how some rattle snakes will "scoot" away when they hear you coming, and others "stand their ground." And yes, June Bugs scare the living crap out of me :))

    Yes, Mayan is more like it than "Egyptian." But after all, weren't the Mayans traveling (as in reed raft sailing) Egyptians? could be wrong, tho.

    Jim and Gayle,
    One can get very creative with a long stick and duct tape :))

    Thanks... see above comment :)). Seriously, I did zoom in a little bit :)) and he was ready to pounce. I'm sure some of those depictions were snakes, too... imagine the indians had great respect for rattlers. Thanks.

    Son Caleb,
    Thanks for checking in, Big Guy. Love you and see you at Christmas, I hope :))

    The iPod thing is true... I'd rather hear what I'm about to step on... not to mention the birds. Thanks for your comment.

    Glad to be of assistance with your "red rock withdrawal." And thanks... I was amazed at your Wave photos... and jealous that I couldn't land a permit to get in there myself :(( Thanks for commenting.

    Up River,
    Thank you... my pleasure to photograph the wild west for your enjoyment :))

    The warning is nice... but having grown up in Arizona I can tell you that it's not one hundred percent foolproof :(( So keep your iPod out of your ears and take off your sunglasses in the shade on hot days. I made that mistake once and almost stepped on a rattler in the Chiruacaha mountains... right in the trail, and not making a sound. Bobbie saw him tho, thank god. Thanks!

    A snake charmer I am not... in fact, I couldn't even "charm" the pants off a stripper... :))

    Wheeling It Nina,
    Sorry... I know how you love to frequent the desert :))

    here's what I do when hiking in rattler country, especially when it is bushy, grassy and "snaky." Use a long hiking stick or pole and keep it out in front of you... sort of like a blind persons stick... whacking at the bushes, making noise, alerting any snakes of your presence. Oh, and walk SLOWLY!!!!. You'll be just fine. thanks,

    Thanks for all your comments,
    Box Canyon Mark!!!

  21. Although I don't think I'll encounter many rattlesnakes in Takamatsu, maybe I will stop biking to and from school with my headphones. Nice comment about the hemp by the way, that made me laugh! Anyway, glad you didn't get done in by the rattler!

  22. Dan In Japan,
    Thanks for the comment... and I hope you do take the earbuds out when in traffic :)) I'd like for you to outlive me :))

  23. An amazing place! Especially petroglyph with a cat!
    But what is this state? In which state is this Santa Clara Canyon (with this petroglyph cat)? Utah, New Mexico or another?

  24. Where can a person find out what each of the symbols mean? I do not have a google account but my email is vivojack1976@hotmail.com. I was in Arizona on vacation and went to the Painted Rocks and took pics but am having trouble finding out the meaning of some of the symbols. Thank you in advance for your response


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