MAPS AND SURVEY – 1913 BY ARTHUR R. HINKS, M.A., F.R.S.
CHAPTER III route traversing The Explorer’s Route Map
The first care of a traveler who passes through an unknown, or partially explored country, is to make a record of where he has been, and of the main features of the country along the route by which he has traveled. Often singlehanded, encumbered by transport, compelled to keep to the track, and unable to leave his party, he cannot hope to make anything in the nature of a map, in the ordinary sense of the term. But for his own guidance, to avoid getting lost, he is compelled to determine his position day by day in much the same way that the position of a ship is determined at sea, by observation of the Sun and the stars, so that he is able to say roughly in what latitude, and perhaps in what longitude his halting places were. Moreover, as he goes along he is able to make such observations of the shape and course of his path as to enable another man coming after him not only to arrive more or less at the same place but to follow the same route. And finally, he can keep a sort of running record of the things that lie immediately to the side of his path. All this is done by the construction of a “route traverse” or “route map.”
In 1849 a wagon train bound for California split up with many of the members opting for a supposed shortcut to the goldfields. The shortcut did not work out and these intrepid wanderers found themselves stranded, lock, stock, barrel, and four children on the floor of a place that would become known as ‘Death Valley.’
Over a month of hardship and waiting had passed while two heroic young men walked to find a way out and return with supplies in order to bring this band of Lost 49ers to safety. This they did, returning with food, a white horse, and a one-eyed mule. Sadly enough, the white horse had to be abandoned at a dry fall in the Panamint Mountains.
With these heroes returning they could now make their escape. The children were weak, tired, and sick and would not make the trip if they had to walk, so the pioneers sewed several shirts together making saddlebags to carry them in.
The children were uncomfortable and sick. They cried and cried, but ‘Crump,’ the ox selected to bear this burden seemed to sense the importance of carrying its cargo as gently as possible, never missing a step, stumbling, or even making a sudden, jarring move.
This ordeal, beginning late in 1849 and finishing up early in 1850 then became a distant memory to the members of the party.
Years later, a much older William Manly, one of the two heroes that saved the emigrants (John Rogers being the other), was walking down a road in the central valley. He noticed that over in a shady pasture there was a fat ox relishing the long, tender blades of grass. Strangely enough, the ox looked vaguely familiar. Sure enough, it was Old Crump, warm and gentle as ever.
Back in 1850, when things settled after their hardship-fraught journey and arrival at their destination, the owner of the ox retired the creature as a reward for its distinguished service and Crump never worked a day in its life again.
The shape of the Mojave is formed by everything that is not Mojave.
Ocean Woman rose naked from the sea. She became the mountains and valleys and glistened as she slept under the moon. She became awake as the sun rose and warmed her. That is what I heard.
Clouds pass by here, everything passes by; shadows, people. It is just desert. discord, strife, conflict, contention, Jangled trees in discord, sticks, twigs, gray plants that are most likely dead, not that they ever had a chance, or did they?
Patience, Brother. Listen to the raging and eroding wind–with its grit and dust–it will help you to know peace–that anger has no use for ascent.
We come to the desert by different paths at different times for various reasons, this is how the weaving begins. The weaving. The constant weaving and braiding and twisting and tying of stories and realities and things in between.
This is the land, too. One place becomes another gradually or immediately or maybe something or somehow in between. Everything is the same and everything is different and sometimes that is just by a little bit–little by little–until everything is different. The geology, the plants, and animals–the rare raindrops scattered about on the playa surface attacking the bare earth in numbers so large the washes do not understand the burden they are about to hide beneath. This is the desert.
Coyotes laughing. Rats that are cannibals. Lizards that spit venom. Carnivorous insects — I wish!
This is transformation upon transformation. Metamorphosis.
Painful youth with poignant memories newly scarred, not forgotten, but pushed aside. Here, however, one may clear themselves of the entanglements others twist around us, to distract us, to hamper us. We grow within our chosen realities here.
Time is multidimensional and multidirectional. We have our own time and we are within our time and be inside and outside at the same time. Our time is our time and others try to take that time from you for themselves. Each falls into and overlaps with the others.
We learn to leave it all behind. Luckily enough, alone.
There is the final question, I calculate–Really?
It seems to be a thousand years, now.
Laughing coyotes, brotherhood.
Observe the puzzle pieces we are assembled of, each moment of us can be examined from each particle separate or in context within the pieces that are made up of groups of pieces in a gradient fabric made in context within those around us and without. The bighorn sheep are also gregarious beasts.
All the while, the desert is art.
Break it all into pieces and look at the pieces.
Possibly unnoticed, we change and become a different creature, a different being.
You have to grow. There is no choice if you indeed exist. There will be two paths and you will take one, however, even if you took the other path you would end up where the first would go; over there.
At least you know that if not directly, there will be some kind of connection between this way and that way over there. There is nothing that says you will end up better if you go one way or the other–one way is neither right nor wrong–possibly–you will, however, end up where you are meant to be. That can be a horrible shame.
And over there, either way, will be the same thing repeated, only in a slightly different light
August is the month of the long mornings. Starting before sunrise Sol burns the air to the east sending it here in thick slow-rolling waves. It is not at all unpleasant, the effect is comforting in its ambient beauty. Subtle. Sustained. There is a degree of perfection in this rounded nexus–a timelessness in time–in a singular day before the flat-heat whiteness begins. All of this is August, the month of long mornings.
Some rocks (not this one) will speak. I remember the first time a rock ever spoke to me. I was out near the Colorado River in a wash littered with evenly shaped cobbles. They were slightly different subtle colors, red, blue, gray, pink, and so on, and so forth. They were so very pretty lying in the wash with blue sky, billowing clouds, and all of that was attractively scattered here, there, and everywhere.
One rock stood out to me. I picked it up and took a good look. It was a little bigger than the palm of my hand in a comfortably rounded shape. There were no blemishes or markings or really anything that would note this stone as different from any other stone in the wash. However, it felt different. It felt like it knew me and was waiting for the day that I would come and pick it up. Today.
Then it spoke to me. I stood there dumbfounded, mouth agape for quite a long time. The rock had said, “I want to go to your house.”
“Then what?” I thought.
It heard my thoughts. It must be, like, telepathic.
“You need me,” the rock said. It continued; “I am the exact size you need to cover that big red plastic tumbler that you use to soak pieces of mesquite in water to give your BBQ smokey flavor. I am the correct weight to keep the wood submerged so that it may get wet.”
So I brought it home and it was right. It has been perfect for the job. I use it every BBQ. Now, when the rock speaks to me you know what it says? It says nothing. Not a word. Not a sound. Just like it is just a rock.
This subsection comprises the higher elevations and cooler parts of the San Bernardino Mountains. The mountains are a horst with faults and steep escarpments on the south-southwest, east-northeast, and west-northwest sides. The subsection is made up of steep and very steep mountains with narrow to rounded summits. The elevations range is from about 4000 feet up to 11,502 feet on Mount San Gorgonio. The predominant natural plant community is Ponderosa pine series. Precipitation is about 30 to 40 inches annually. Much of it is snow. All but the larger streams are dry through the summer. There have been natural lakes, but any lakes that persisted until historical times have been replaced by reservoirs.
At the mouth of Afton Canyon, it may be easier to visualize a great lake, Lake Manix, breaching its shores and its waters carving this terrible and yet beautiful gorge through the layers of the millions and millions of years of earth that have gone before. At least at one time, it was believed this all occurred rapidly, over the course of a few weeks, raging in colossal destruction. Now, I believe, the evidence shows it was not just one seismic event that provoked this tearing of the landscape, that it took place over thousands of years driven on by multiple events and changes in climate.