Looking around on this wonderous property, the first thing that sticks out, quite literally, is the insane amounts of garbage. Once the spectator has gotten past this disturbance, another layer is revealed, with incredibly rich information. With the proper eyes, it may even feel like the land is talking to you... and in fact it is! Especially, if there is a face carved into a rock, with an unmistakable grin.
Tales of the Turtle
Examining the area around Turtle Rock, it became quite apparent that the topography was dropping. In case of rain, the water would be collected from both sides: the mound with the RV, the shop, the pumphouse and another trailer on one side, and the rest of the property, unused and virgin (and without much garbage) on the other side.
So this was a river bed of sorts... And looking at the place just below the Turtle, it even looked like someone had tried to build a pond! There was a bit of a basin, with some wire mesh still sticking out, that had been concreted over. A crumbling little wall gave evidence to a dam. A bit further upstream, there was a little red bridge rotting away in the sun, and a type of cascade of rocks built into the slope.
There Was Once Water Here!
Finding traces of water is always exciting in such an arid landscape, and it looks like it hasn't been too long ago, either. Years maybe, but certainly not decades. And where there used to be water, it is very likely that it will flow once again. So I climbed up onto the next higher rock, and tried to imagine what this place would look like saturated with water.
All that yellow grass must have sprouted up during the last rain, probably around February-March, which is when this area gets the most (sometimes the only) percipitation. So if we managed to keep the water from running off instantly, by building a little dam, as the previous pond builder had intended, we could possibly have a bit of surface water, to the great appreciation of the local flora and fauna.
Evaporation is certainly an issue, so shading it with plants is important, and possibly replenishing it with our water pumped from underground. But at the moment, all these ideas are in the realm of dreams... at least until all the trash is removed. So I went to see where the water would flow.
More Evidence of Water
The drop of the landscape made it easy imagining I was water, choosing the path of least resistance. As I did so, I came across clear traces of a stream, that had carved its path into the rock. At times it spread out into a shallow area, where it dropped the soil it was carrying, providing wonderful conditions for the same grass to grow and hold the soil together. Then, in other parts, the stream shrank back into a deeper run, winding its way through the rocks in a formidable kayaking course.
I was amazed at how much water there had to be to fill those channels! And yes, my next thought was that I wanted to see that fierce river once again running through this dry land. Tree, trees, and more trees... but we'll get there, I'm sure.
As I was climbing back uphill, I looked back at the river bed to get another perspective. That's when I saw another rock carving: the Salamander! This time it was purely carved by the hands of nature, but the shape was clear: the nose, the mouth, no eyes, but its gills could be seen quite clearly. I was excited about it as I was walking back. Stone Turtle to Stone Salamander! This had to be a good sign. A sign that as hot and dry as this place may seem, it is by no means foreign to water. In fact, lots of it!