Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Petroglyphs Of Kelbaker Road, California

Baker, California is a godforsaken spot along Interstate 15 midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Its raison d'etre is to serve as a place to grab some food, use a restroom, and pump a tank of gasoline while traveling from the City of the Angels to Sin City. (It was also the setting for the movie The Big Empty, but that's another story.) Baker happens to be the northern terminus of Kelbaker Road, which runs south through the Mojave National Preserve and the "town" of Kelso. And along Kelbaker Road are some nice petroglyphs and a couple of caves where the petroglyph makersonce lived.

This site is not listed in guidebooks, and I'm grateful to the rangers at the Barstow, California office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for cluing me in about it. The site is a little over thirteen miles south of Baker in the Mojave National Preserve. The basaltic rock outcropping below will be visible on your left when you're near the starting point for the hike to the site; a dry stream bed will also be obvious:

When you get to this location, you hike east-----that is, toward Las Vegas-----for about a mile. On your right will be dark basaltic cliffs like the ones below. The petroglyphs and caves are very obvious when you finally get to them.

You have to climb up the rocks to reach the petroglyphs and caves, but they should pose no problems; I did it without any climbing gear. When you do, you'll find two shallow caves with petroglyphs as well as separate petroglyph panels. Here are the two cave entrances:

The cave walls and rock panels have petroglyphs like these:

This is the view north from one of the caves. Interstate 15 runs parallel to those mountains in the distance. I wonder what the petroglyph makers would think if they could see this view at night; what would they think of those small moving lights in the distance? If they indeed possessed some special wisdom lost to modern man, does this mean they would not have been seduced by Mitt Romney's oily disingenuousness? Would they wish for a CB radio so they could talk to the long haul truckers zooming by on Interstate 15??

I do not have the answers to such questions.