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Title for Opal Mountain Sites

The white patches on Opal Mountain are volcanic tufa, not snow. Starting at the newly-renovated Owl Canyon Campground (BLM), we set out to explore Opal Mountain curiosities northwest of Barstow.


Coyote Gulch lava rocks

Disregarding Bill Mann's instructions, Martin led us on a dirt track, perhaps a motorcycle route, up and down some steep hillsides to Opal Mountain Road. Our first stop was at Coyote Gulch, a small canyon between two lava flows. BLM has placed a plaque telling about prehistoric petroglyphs and reminding the public that archaeological remains are protected by the Federal Antiquities Act.


Petroglyph panel

The best petroglyph panel was near the top of the lava rock pile.


Another petroglyph at Coyote Gulch

There were other petroglyphs in the area.


The Fertility Cave

We searched west of Coyote Gulch for the Fertility Cave, which was located high on a ridge of lava boulders above a dry lake that Mann named Lost Lake. The Fertility Cave is similar to a site in Oregon and may have been used by squaws desiring to become pregnant. We have no explanation for the many small pits in the rock. Mann said this rock face was an inner wall of the shelter before recent earthquakes shifted the rock. Perhaps each squaw made a mark as part of her petition.


The dry lake view from the Fertility Cave

This is the view from the Fertility Cave. We were intrigued by the slick reflective surface of the dry lake. Martin's truck is visible far below.


A geocache near a rock

On the way back to the truck, Martin spotted a metal box nestled against a boulder. It turned out to be a geocache with trinkets and a small notebook to sign.


A spike in a pile of rocks

What is this mound of rocks with a heavy spike doing in the dry lake bed?


A survey monument

Aha! It is a survey monument inscribed "US GENERAL LAND OFFICE SURVEY, Sec 14, Sec 23. Penalty $250 for removal." The General Land Office was formed in 1812 to be responsible for public domain lands in the United States. It was placed in the Department of the Interior in 1849 and merged with the U.S. Grazing Service in 1946 to become the Bureau of Land Management. So the question is, how old is this marker? We guessed it may date from the late 1920s, and we also guessed that it had been bent by wild truck- driving on the lake bed.


Rock circles

Our next stop was to inspect some rock circles that are smaller than the sleeping circles used for the brush wickiups of the ancient Indians. It is interesting that desert rocks can stay in place for hundreds of years.


A rock triangle

A short distance away we located a small triangle composed of rocks. Did it point to something important? All we could see were low foothills in the distance. This was our last curiosity for the day. Our route wandered north to Black Canyon Road where we spent the night at the edge of a broad valley near Inscription Canyon.


Continue to Black Canyon

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