To celebrate the solstice over the weekend, some friends and I drove out into the Columbia River Gorge, crossed over the Columbia River from Oregon to Washington, and visited the ancient petroglyphs (rock etchings) + pictographs (rock painting) at Horse Thief Lake. In particular we went to visit Tsagaglalal (also called She Who Watches
) -- that's her above. She sits looking toward the Oregon hills, watching over the river. The legend goes:
A woman had a house where the village of Nixluidix was later built. She was chief of all who lived in the region. That was a long time before Coyote came up the river and changed things and people were not yet real people. After a time Coyote in his travels came to this place and asked the inhabitants if they were living well or ill. They sent him to their chief who lived up on the rocks, where she could look down on the village and know what was going on.
Coyote climbed up to the house on the rocks and asked "What kind of living do you give these people? Do you treat them well or are you one of those evil women?" "I am teaching them to live well and build good houses," she said.
"Soon the world will change," said Coyote, "and women will no longer be chiefs." Then he changed her into a rock with the command, "You shall stay here and watch over the people who live here."
All the people know that Tsagaglalal sees all things, for whenever they are looking at her those large eyes are watching them.
-"Stone Age on the Columbia River" by Emory Strong, 1959 (via lensjoy.com)
There were a lot of other petroglyphs and pictographs to see in the area, too. I loved the owl above, and this funny guy, who our guide told us was a water spirit:
Here's a wonderful deer etching:
And high on the rocks along the trail, we saw a lot of these red paintings, often with red wavy lines indicating water, rayed arches, people, and animals. Isn't it amazing to imagine what these Mative American's lives were like?
No one quite knows how old these rock paintings and etchings are, but we did learn that the Columbia River Gorge has been inhabited continuously for 10,000 years -- incredible, right?
Apparently the walls of the gorge were/are covered in these types of paintings, but many of them were covered when The Dalles Dam
was built in 1959 and the water levels rose. What a shame.
This visit piqued my interest in ancient cave paintings -- have you seen any of these ancient artworks anywhere in the world? Do tell!
On the way back we stopped at Horsetail Falls (also in the gorge) and went on a short hike from there up to Ponytail Falls. This is Horsetail Falls:
And this is Ponytail Falls:
There's a path behind Ponytail Falls on which you can walk, AND you can go in! So we did:
It was cold and exhilarating! What a way to celebrate the solstice. I am SO glad it's summer!