Discovering a New Site

Our latest Adventure took descriptions of sites in the William L. Fox book, The Void, The Grid & The Sign: Traversing The Great Basin, to find two remarkable sites.

The firstĀ  “new to us” site is located high in a mountain range in this Niche. It occupies an unusual outcropping of rhyolite. A group of us, in varying echelons, had made four attempts to find the first site: each time trying a different approach to the general region. We had looked in vain for the occasional landscape descriptions as events occurred along the way. Finally, after four explorations, the entire team was together as we had accumulated enough knowledge from the book, previous visits, and other bits of information to find this beautiful site in the White River Narrows Niche.

The following site is located in a beautiful rhyolite canyon in the niche, which is worth a visit even if there was no rock art. We had visited that canyon seven times before, including one visit as part of a Southern Nevada Rock Art Association field trip the editor had coordinated in 2011. We just knew there had to be rock art there somewhere. When the book described how the late Alvin McLane found a site, the line that made the difference was that he saw it “looking up” the cliff face. We had simply not been looking high enough. This time, it was easy to see as we drove through the canyon again. Then, it was hard to believe so many of us had missed it.

In the book, McLane speculated that it was an Equinox solar marker, and well it may be. But by happy coincidence, we found it just as the summer solstice shadow was creeping across the pictograph panel: an obvious summer solstice marker. If you mouse over the photos you will see that we think of the series of photos as a “Tribute to Alvin McLane.” To our knowledge, we are the first in modern times to see the summer solstice event. At any event, so far no one else has reported observing it.

As is so often the case in life, knowledge in this field is widely held and dispersed. It is great fun to pull it together and make it your own. We found the second site with just the cryptic descriptions of getting to a site. We were pretty sure we recognized the canyon described, and just neededĀ  that one line to find it.

You can do that as well. Moreover, it preserves that satisfying sense of discovery that comes with finding rock art sites in this region.