To understand any environment on earth one must understand how the wind works its way through that environment because as the wind works its way through the environment it affects all things and in many ways. While the wind is often invisible, its effects are not; for example, it can scour away the soil from one place and deliver it to another. And this can dictate where various species of plants can live and cannot live. In turn, this will influence the forces of erosion and the behavior of predator and prey. With this in mind, we can see the effects of the wind in the Grand Canyon play out on a scale and complexity that is unique in the world. It is here that we can experience the grandeur of the earth and the infinite complexity of the wind such that one lifetime or one book is not sufficient to fully understand or convey the ways of the wind in the Grand Canyon. However, just recognizing some of the basics will give one a path to a deeper understanding of the Grand Canyon.
The Coso Mountain petroglyphs are the last remnant of a society that started thousands of years ago and lived almost to our present time. And through the artistry and symbolism of these petroglyphs we know that it was a hunter gather society that was based on hunting desert bighorn sheep, and so the desert bighorn sheep loom large in its everyday culture and mythology just as the buffalo hunting societies that once lived on the Great Plains centered their culture and mythology on the buffalo.
And while the rocks and bighorn sheep have changed little, the climate and the people have changed considerably; for one, the climate was wetter back then as the dry lakes that are scattered throughout the desert show, and this, in combination with other factors, allowed the bighorn sheep to become the dominant grazing animal of that time.
Petroglyphs prove that the beauty and thoughts of the human mind can travel immense distances in time and that the beauty can still be recognized and the thoughts still valued. Having a basic understanding of these petroglyphs will give us a pathway to travel back in time to the environment in which they were made and give us some understanding of it. Then we can take this pathway and travel back to our own time and understand some of environmental attributes that have survived through the ages.
In the Mojave Desert you'll find a species of snail that is truly one of the most interesting life forms that live there and yet it is often overlooked or unknown to most people. To start with, this snail has a shiny black body and of course its common name is "white desert snail." Without a doubt it gets its name from its white shell. At first one might think that this snail lives in the various springs and other water sources that dot the desert landscape much like some of the fish species such as the pup fish of Death Valley. However, this is not so; this snail is a land snail and lives in virtually every mountain range in the Mojave Desert where there aren't any springs or water sources of any kind. It truly is a desert snail.
A long time ago, perhaps as much 2000 or 3000 years, an Indian was hunting for bighorn sheep in a land that he'd never hunted before. The sheep sign was getting thicker, it seemed, with every step until he came to the edge of a cliff and looked down and saw a pool of water, where the bighorn sheep had been watering for untold ages. He could tell by the algae and the water bugs that this source of water lasted for months at a time and he knew that he would come back to this pool of water (or tanaha) many times, and perhaps he was the first put a petroglyph at this site.
The desert is full of all kinds of treasures, gold, silver, and other rare elements. Even water in the desert can be considered a treasure and the source of immense wealth. One of the greatest treasures that we have in the desert is art, and we can truly call this art a treasure. And like all treasures, it needs to be protected and watched over because there are people who will steal and vandalize it. And of course I'm talking about the petroglyphs and pictographs that dot the desert landscape. And while this art form has been around for a long time, it is only now beginning to be appreciated for what it really is.