It's an exciting time for Bear Spirit Mountain.
Recently, we have been exploring several different parts of our mountain and we have made more discoveries that my Ancestors left behind for us. I'll be sending another update on that soon.
It seems that not only do they want me, and some of our team members to not only continue protecting and researching our site but they have us exploring and researching other sites as well.
A few weeks back I was asked by our site Archaeologist Jack Hranicky, RPA, to make a site visit to Short Mountain next to Mt. Jackson, Virginia. He wanted us to investigate some potential rock art that was at the top of this mountain.
I asked my friend Jason Buckman to join me and thankfully he did. We headed out and arrived at what was supposed to be a subdivision that was planned, but was never actually built. I had found using google earth that these roads had at least been started, so I thought using them would save us a lot of climbing and time.
As we arrived we quickly saw that these things we thought were "roads" were no more than goat trails. Rocky, uneven goat trails barely wide enough for one car. As we looked at these trails a decision had to be made. We had already driven an hour to arrive there. The problem was, we were in Ingrid's car. Her baby, and if I damaged her baby, it wouldn't be the car she would be trading in.
Well, I trusted my driving skills and I knew Jason would be an excellent spotter for potential troubles so "damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"
One hour later we arrived at the top road that put us the closest to the top of the mountain. This jungle trek put us at least two miles closer than the previous trips that had been taken by other groups.
As we started climbing it was evident that even though we were closer to the top, this mountain was going to be a challenge. It is steep, full of boulder fields and the jungle environment that arrives every Spring there was in full force. Vines, downed trees, massive boulders that had rolled off the top all conspired to make it hard on us. Boulder flows that stretched for hundreds of yards containing thousands of smaller boulders forced us off our compass bearing. We walked for fifty, sometimes a hundred plus yards and then needed to stop to catch our breath on the more steep areas. But we were not going to let Jack down. Onward and upward we went. Fortunately, along the way we had some wonderful surprises that kept us entertained.
When we left the vehicle, we didn't expect to see anything until we reached the top. However, the Ancestors immediately rewarded us with this beautiful face staring directly at us.
This is a split photo of a Mastodon face. Right away Jason and I knew that this was an ancient site. At a minimum, approximately 12,000 years old based on the fact these Elephants went extinct around that time period. Oh what a trip we were in store for after seeing this greeting.
As we climbed we began finding many other glyph's. Some were painted, others carved. But this was an very active mountain for rock art for the Ancestors. Below are split photos of some of the rock art we found.
Mastodon, Squirrel, Cat and Deer
Water Bird swallowing a fish
Man wearing a head dress
It was so exciting to see that there are many glyph's that are on the side of the mountain and not just the top. And another thing I noticed is the images that were chosen were from different time periods. Meaning that this mountain was used for many thousands of years as a artist's canvas.
Onward and upward we climbed until we reached the top of the mountain. As we reached the top, we saw that there is a massive rock outcrop that stretches for miles and is several hundred yards tall. We climbed into the nooks and crannies looking for rock art and tools that may have been left behind. As we walked/climbed we photographed every potential rock that may have art. We don't always see the glyph's right away. Many times I will see a rock and knowing the patterns of what my Ancestors used in the past in choosing a rock template to carve or paint on I will take a photo of it even if I can't see anything at that moment. I then process the photo using ID Stretch technology and sometimes faded paint or eroded rock carve marks will be revealed that the naked eye can't see.
As we continued on we searched an area about a mile long along the top of the mountain. Below is some of the photos that did have rock art on it.
Antelope and Totem carvings with two Turtle heads, two Owl faces, one Human face
Large Pictograph of Owl Face Pictograph
Running Stag Petroglyph
Bird, possibly Turkey, with fanning tail feathers
Water Bird swallowing a Fish Petroglyph
Mastodon, Antelope, Squirrel and small Cat pictograph
As we completed our mission we headed back down the mountain. On the way down we found another amazing rock structure. At the bottom of a boulder flow we saw a raised, dry stacked rock wall. I recognize it well. It is a Serpent Wall.
Serpent wall among the vegetation
I took a compass reading and it faced NW to SE. It aligned with the Summer and Winter solstice. Jason also found a rock next to the wall that had a "U" shaped niche cut in the top of it. I gather something like a small log or another rock was placed in its groove.
Rock with carved notch
He also located a ancient skinning stone, used to skin animals hides and meat.
I located the head of the Serpent which was a large triangle shaped boulder.
This mountain and the people that once lived there and still do so in Spirit today was very generous to us in showing us its secrets. I am grateful to my Ancestors for giving me the opportunity to be there.
I also thank my friend Jason for making that hike with me. He is very gifted in seeing what the Ancestors left us. Very few are.
Jason on a large rock outcrop. He is King of the Mountain!
We will be returning the Fall season when the leaves drop for more investigation.
Jack was very pleased with our results. Many of the photos are going to be included in his next book. We may also be giving a paper together this Fall regarding this trip and our findings. I look forward to standing next to the "Master" once again and sharing our findings.
Short Mountain, which is located just three miles from the Shenandoah River is a very special place. I look forward to seeing it again in the future.