Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Hike in Craven Canyon to See Ancient Writings

We live in the Black Hills where miles and miles of “nature” stand between the towns.  To give you an idea of the distances, we live 60 miles to the closest Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and such.  A few days ago, on a beautiful November fall day, my Ted arranged access to a site on Forest Service Land where early man wrote on tall protected canyon walls.  We heard a funny story about someone from Europe organizing mountain climbing tours of this area. Look carefully at the picture below. IMG_2681
After our hike to the ancient writings we drove up to an overlook to have lunch and take a look at where we had been. Do you see the vertical crack about the middle of the picture.  The story goes that a guide would take climbers through the crack. It would take some doing. The funny thing is that you can drive right around and over to the base of this wall!  If you would climb through that crack you would find yourself on the other side of the canyon wall. You would find a tall sheltered canyon wall where ancient peoples  found some protection from winter winds. And they recorded their presence by painting or pecking pictures into the walls. 
I am standing on the “writing” side of the crack.
The “writings” have been featured in news articles. Many years ago they were white chalked for photo purposes. This I was told is an animal, probably an antelope being clubbed, or killed.  Antelope are still very plentiful around here.
Can you see the people and another animal?  There are several pictures on these walls.
The day was beautiful! We knew we were somewhere very special.  Can you imagine the moon coming over the crack in the rock.
It is hard to make it out. But the picture on the left seems to represent the crack in the mountain. Then to the right there were “moons”, so this seemed to be a kind of calendar.
I am up by the wall looking down.
The view from “across the way”.
As we walked below.  Ted asked me to look up and he said.  “Do you get the point?”
Gotta love him……


  1. hahaha, amazing Ted and amazing people who found them. I wonder if those rocks are already that far from the ground when those people hid there in winter. I think the soil around it is not as eroded as today, so it is not that difficult to reach.I appreciate more your photos without the chalk marks, though I cant decipher the later shot with moons.

  2. 60 miles to the nearest Walmart! Wow, that could be a blessing or a curse. I guess one would adjust. I've always thought of the Black Hills as a special and magical place. You have confirmed that with this wonderful place about the ancient writings. I can almost imagine what life would've been like here.

  3. Andrea, you are right. The soil line up high on the cliff used to be higher so that the drawings were made at eye level. The canyon wall is high up and absorbs the warmth of the sun in the winter.

  4. Hi Tina - yes 60 miles to our big city, population about 60,000. Our town is about 5000 persons and wildlife. I think we would eat more "junk" food if it was near us. As it is I cook regularly. Sometimes I wish.....

  5. What a beautiful area you live in! My body doesn't like heights, so I think I'd pass on going into the needle. Tell Ted I got the point. LOL

  6. I get the point! The people who dwelled there and made those drawings must have known they were in a special place. I didn't realize that the area you live in is so remote! It reminds me of scenes out of old westerns.

  7. Gloria - this post is just fabulous! What an amazing area of the country you live in. I can't imagine being so close to such prolific history. Thanks so much for sharing!

    After reading your post, I feel very 'suburban'. Being 25 miles west of downtown Chicago - McDonald's & Walmart are 2 minutes away. My gardens serve as color and natural visual privacy from neighbors (so it doesn't feel like we live in a fishbowl). ;D

  8. Gloria what a wonderful place to visit...reminds me f my visit to a National Park in NM...lots of ancient ruins and writing...

  9. Hi Sue - I'm with you! The hikers were climbing, and shimming through the eye of that needle....but the funny thing is while they were doing this, a rancher drove to the other side by truck!

  10. Hi Deb, yes this area is western! In the Black Hills some of the towns are Custer and Deadwood. Gold was found in "these hills" and the wild west was born.

  11. Shyrlene, we live just 10 miles from Wind Cave National Park. There buffalos roam along with other wild life. It is open and beautiful....

  12. Hi Donna - Yes, it is amazing to be at one of these remote areas where life was carried on. We also the blackened area where the camp fires were made.

  13. Gloria,

    This is wonderful! Reading about the American Indian writings in caves and on stones does not compare to actually seeing them in person.


  14. Eileen, you are so right! It was a beautiful fall day. The canyon is curved and the site is protected from wind. There were lots more paintings, but the sun was so strong, it was hard to get the details on the camera.

  15. We visited Black Hills several years ago. Your post brought back some good memories. As for the ancient writings on the walls, they hypnotise me. Last time, I saw some drawings in edona, AZ.

  16. Hi Tatyana, the Black Hills are beautiful and friendly. I am amazed that ancient man managed to survive here with snow, and drought and hot and cold. They were wise and strong

  17. Looks very cool... we should do that hike next time I come up.