Sunday, January 5, 2014

Swan Falls Petroglyph Hike

Many of the Volcanic Rocks are Hollow

Tumbleweed Traffic Jam

We Grow Giant Tumbleweeds in the West

Evidence of the Old Homestead

A Few Trees Left in the Abandoned Orchard -
Benjamin Priest’s Early 1900s Farm

Lots of Apricot Seeds on the Ground

Enjoying the Sun with a Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich in my Hand

Jay and Raisin

Anthony Looking for Petroglyphs

Chinese Shar-Pei Petroglyph!

Today Anthony, Raisin, Jay and I hiked to the Swan Falls Petroglyphs that are located on large boulders at Wees Bar.  Wees Bar is named for James Lowell Wees who filed mining claims there in 1895. You can also reach the trail from Sinker Butte on the West side of the river. 

Swan Falls Dam is 19 miles south of Kuna on Swan Falls Road. The hike to and from the Petroglyphs is 11.4 miles round trip with approximately 500 feet of gain.  Some sites and brochures suggest the Wees Bar petroglyphs are 800 years old and others that they could be 12,000 years old.  Although I am not sure which estimate is correct it is known that it was the Paiute Indians who wintered in the area for thousands of years who etched the pictures on the lava bounders left behind from the Bonneville flood. 

On our round trip to and from the Petroglyphs we stopped at an old orchard of approximately eight bare gnarled apricot trees.  The remains of a rock house are also found at Wees Bar.  The Priest Ranch raised food for miners at Silver City and operated until WW-I.  The apricot trees are still growing at the old homesite, just across the river from Initial Point.  The house foundation and irrigation ditches are also still there. 

From the Idaho State Historical Society, Guffey Butte - Black Butte National Registry of Historic Places Nomination:

The rock art included in the district is among the most elaborate and spectacular prehistoric art in Idaho … Over one-hundred-and-fourteen prehistoric and historic archaeological sites have been located in this short stretch of river. Seventy-seven of these are open campsites and villages. Many of the villages have shallow depressions indicating prehistoric houses. Thick middens and huge quantities of artifacts characterize both the open sites and the thirty-three sites located in rock overhangs.

The morning was very cold when we started our journey at a brisk 11 degrees.  But on our return trip the sun was high in the sky and we enjoyed temperatures in the low 30’s.  Anthony is a very fast hiker but he made sure to glance back every so often to ensure that we were not too far behind.  His stride is long and it takes me two steps for every one step of his.  I could swear that the dogs and I walked twice as far as he did.  It was wonderful to visit the past and imagine how they lived.  The petroglyphs were a real highlight on the trail and we only ran across one other couple on our return trip to the dam.  Quite a few times we ran into huge tumbleweed traffic jams on the trail and had to detour around the prickly beasts.  In some states you may find a fallen tree blocking the trail but in Idaho it's tumbleweeds.

Upon arriving home we removed the very dried Christmas tree from the family room (a real crispy critter) and I slipped upstairs for along and leisurely bubble bath while Anthony headed out to pick up pizza for dinner.  Raisin and Jay are completely passed out in the living room from their long day on the trail.  I will admit I am struggling to stay awake myself.  It’s time to plan our next hiking adventure.



1 comment:

  1. Looks like a fun day! Those petroglyphs are really cool - I didn't know that there were any in Idaho! Thanks for sharing!


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