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Monday, December 01, 2008

Searching For The Wolf Man (Rock Art)

I stumbled upon an interesting guy as I was hiking Saturday. Locals call him the "Wolf Man." He appears to be a humanoid, perhaps a deity of some sort. He is surrounded by fanciful forms that are totally unique - I've never seen rock art images quite like them anywhere else on earth.

Actually, I didn't just stumble upon him. I hunted him down by searching the cliff faces along rugged Comb Ridge, west of the town of Bluff, down near Monument Valley.

I love to view the rock art left by ancient cultures, and the SE corner of Utah offers some of the best. As a hobby, I hike into remote areas to find petroglyph and pictographs - I've viewed and photographed thousands of them. It is always a thrill to find a new site.

Many rock art images seem to relate to daily life: big horn sheep and other animals suggesting a successful hunt, powerful warriors guarding the village, great gods intervening in behalf of the people - that kind of thing.

To me, the wolf man doesn't fit into any of those categories. Who is this guy and what are those strange objects around him? Is that a smiling cat next to the fish skeleton? How about that flying fish? And what is that starburst-thing inside the circle?

I don't have any reference point to provide perspective as I try to understand these interesting images.

Surprisingly different. That's part of the fun of hunting for rock art - you never know what you'll find.

The weather was perfect for hiking over the weekend, with mild sunny days and cold nights, and it looks like that pattern will hold in southern Utah through the next several days.

Right now is a great time to hike our desert canyons. I can't wait to get back down.

- Dave


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