Playing in the Sun

I spent the majority of my academic career ignoring North American archaeology – it just never held the same fascination for me as some of the other parts of the world. Trust me, though, the irony of now having a job doing North American archaeology is not lost on me. Thus I have been attempting to read up on the archaeology of the area and visit some local sites, etc. – bit of a crash course while I am off of work for a couple of days.

I roped a friend into journeying with me to Writing-on-Stone – it is a fantastic area filled with hoodoos, as well as some pictographs. Basically it was a thin sham of a reason to get out and climb on big rocks like a kid again

We set off early in the morning, but it wasn’t until we were already on the road that we realised we weren’t entirely sure where we were going – thank goodness for signs!

They have a fantastic visitor centre which is delightfully interactive and by the time we were finished there, the sun had decided to cooperate nicely. A bit of lunch was in order before doing the couple kilometer walk to the pictographs, and then back to play on the hoodoos upon our return.

The walk was very pleasant, there were lots of little birds out chirping to their heart’s content, and there was a friendly little breeze to keep us from dying in the sun.
The pictographs depict a battle in which you can see various warriors, projectiles, tipis, and horses (as well as a fair amount of more recent vulgar graffiti). Sadly they are eroding a fair amount due to the nature of the rock and the processes of time and weather.

There was a mysterious path leading off beyond the pictographs I was quite eager to explore, but alas, my traveling companion was running low on water, so that adventure will wait until next time. On the quick walk back (why does it always seem faster once you know where you’re going?) we spotted a very large Bull snake – apparently they climb up to high places so they can invade bird nests.

I highly recommend the hoodoo climbing though. We had planned to climb around for half an hour but instead spent an hour and a half clambering about the area. Of course I was brilliant and wore my most gripless pair of sandals, in the end I found going barefoot actually gave me better traction and more precise footing (also it was wonderfully exfoliating). Why do we so quickly forget the lesson that it is always easier to climb up than it is to climb back down? There were some rather precarious perches to get down from but I am increasingly discovering that being so horrifically accident-prone as a child has made me much more cautious and agile as an adult than I suspect either of my parents would have guessed. A day free of nasty falls made for a delightful outing.

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