This country’s stark beauty often makes it seems as if your footprints are the first human ones in this desolate landscape–but then you find that people lived here long before the fences were put up to section off the land. It’s humbling–we live here, truly, we don’t just visit. But we live here with air conditioning, and heat in the winter–and with comforts that the people who were here before could not have begun to conceive.
We had planned to drive into town yesterday, but Corey’s escalating frustration with the customer service (and the customers!) of the local retailers makes shopping with him less than relaxing, so I said I’d head that way today, instead. So, he suggested we drive down to the “Snake Ridge,” a few miles down the Big Canyon.
When we got there, he pointed out a spot halfway up the nearest canyon wall, and you could see what was obviously a human-built stone wall, snaking vertically up the canyon wall. From a half-mile away, it didn’t look terribly impressive, but then he used the camera to zoom in on it, and you could see it was actually quite a structure.
So, since it was pretty much irresistible at that point, we climbed–as you can see at top right, it was barely visible–the only vertical line in the picture, about midway up the ridge, leading down through the rocks of the canyon wall.
As we got higher, it started coming into view (second picture) and then as we came up on it, you could finally see how big it actually was against the identically-colored background.
To give you some idea of the distances involved, I’ve also added the picture of the view back down into the canyon–way out there, where the roads meet, you can just see the truck–that picture was taken from the rock wall, looking back at the hike we’d just done. There is no way for a camera to capture the immensity of the scale of this landscape, as hard as I try!
The wall was a nearly vertical line, but didn’t reach the top or bottom of the canyon wall. It may have at some time in the past, but it effectively began (or ended) about halfway down the overall slope, as near as we could tell. We tried to figure out what it was there for, and came up with two different theories–mine was that it was territorial – some family or tribe marking where their hunting territory ended, or began.
Corey’s theory was more intriguing. One part of the wall had a quite large gap, and what could have been an old game trail running right through the open section. He thinks that it was a hunting tactic–that hunters could wait at the gap for the game (such as aoudad, deer, or others) to take the easy way through, and give a better chance of killing one with a bow and arrow or spear. I kind of like his idea better than mine. We’ll never know, but it’s interesting to think about.
The last two pictures are pretty much gratuitous – one of me at the constructed wall, so you can get an idea of its size, and one of Corey. Behind him, you can see another of what were undersea peaks a few million years ago. They are scattered down the Big Canyon every few miles.
This country continues to fascinate–and on occasion intimidate. This East Texas country girl had her eyes on the ground looking for snakes, and her ears laid back listening for a warning rattle. Plus, anything that looked like a nice place for snakes to den up was given a wide berth.
Snakes or not, I love being able to explore as we choose–it’s truly a gift.