In Search of Tortolita Petroglyphs: A Trip Report


We are driving 4×4 up into the Tortolita Mountains to the old windmill, once again. This had been the launch point to our hike to the county line, earlier in the month. I had acquired some new information about some petrogyphs that I had looked for, now, 15 years.

We leave home nude, but when we arrive at the windmill, there is a mountain biker there. We drive through and pass the windmill on the trail. DF covers with her dress draped over, but in the rear-view mirrors, I see him heading back following us. We finally park off of the trail and he still is approaching. DF puts on her sundress and I place a bag of pretzels between my legs and draped a pair of shorts over my crotch for good measure.

He comes up asking about a loop trail. I explain to him that it is a mistake on the map and doesn’t exist. Instead, I direct him to a well-used trail out to the county line, that I happened to know about (yup, that’s the one) AND he is now going away from us.

My son and I had been out this way just two weeks before. I knew from that, that we can go cross country here, to where we had been before on another hike. {see the hike involving a picture of a large crested saguaro that looks like a baseball mitt}. From there, we can take a semi-sort-of-trail, a cow path really, down to where the rock art is. This route and driving will save us several miles of hiking. By the way, the two incredible crested saguaros previously visited have been listed as dead.

What is Left of Crested

The record shattering freeze, which was 10 degrees lower that the all-time low had been devastating. When it occurred, about two years ago, it had not only killed my desert tortoise neighbor at home, but a dozen out of about fifty documented crested saguaros that had lived in the mountains for way over one hundred years.

Back to the trail, we initially found the area way more destroyed by cattle than even two weeks ago. This new devastation is shocking. We make our way through the fields of fecal landmines, until we crest a saddle. Here, cattle tramping becomes more sparse, due to rocky terrain with less shade. This however, makes our hike more difficult, with no trail and still vegetation so thick that there is no straight line and very slow progress. DF is now undressed down to her five toes and camera. Me, already in five toes and just my backpack. We move carefully and fully aware.

In the middle of all of this trying to figure out where we are, I happen onto a desert tortoise sitting and laying a log on a hillside in the middle of the cattle path. This fella is huge, as wide as my whole foot is long (size 9 ½).

Those old boys don’t drop those logs for weeks, and then when the time finally does come, it has to put up with these two alien beings interfering. I could just imagine the disgruntled tortoise saying to itself, “Wah da f…why now? Why do they happen along here now?”

At one point, there is some confusion to take the trail or the wash, because of over growth, etc.. There are hook barbs of acacia growing into the trail and the heavy monsoon rains have grown enough grass, etc. to make identifying the trail difficult at times. We do find the large wash we need, even when not knowing, if we actually are on the trail.

There, upon a hill, stands a great crested saguaro that isn’t on the charts.

We take photo shots of it, as we are hiking up the wash, heading south toward the destination.

We  have lost the sense of distance from formerly studying our maps.

We come into a large rock area. I was told to look for a strand of rusty old barbed wire. There, we find  quite obviously, a mural of petroglyphs. This place is fun.

These fury critters have lived here enough to blend in.

The impassible waterfall cliffs, that I have formerly known from the bottom of them up, are only a couple of hundred feet further.

We decide to get completely naked, eat lunch and explore these surroundings in all ways, taking photos.

The washed granite rocks are often smooth like a marble floor. Up the side, where the petroglyphs are carved, the sun has left them rough and dark brown. All of this playground is fun to feel with feet and hands.

The grey granite is blue in the shade and feels cool and inviting to the naked touch.

At the top of the waterfall the slippery rocks drop off something like a straight two hundred of feet.

It feels precarious getting near to the cliff. We inch along grasping with more of our whole bodies, more than just feet, to avoid a devastating slip.

There are many rocks that formed going many directions.

We are trying to see over the ledge, and photograph it. It is difficult to figure what is level and what is not, like a vertigo and what is slippery and not.

DF has no fear of heights, but even she then begins to get vertigo.

DF Experiences Vertigo

It is a very weird collection of sensations.

There are yellow flowered plants growing out of the rock formations. They  appear right out of the rocks.

We enjoy the ancient art with our lunch and wandering about the rock surfaces.

The ones around here are considered 600 to 900 years old, coming out to of the Anasazi or Hohokam period.

There were significant civilizations here until they mysteriously disappeared around 1500. The weather changed around then, but we don’t know. The Native Americans around here are their descendants. They are old, like Europe, but here it is prehistory. The pictographs are found, but they are fewer and can be thousands of years old. There are some commonalities in the works. They are old and deserve reverence.

After Connecting, DF Takes Pics Of Petroglyphs

The purpose and meaning are speculated upon by scholars, etc. and there are some explanations by shamans.

DF and I like to speculate what was going on to make them. We examine the site, read the energy, and try to decipher the images. We want to get a feel and insight. We want to communicate with those old messages.

It is like finding an ancient pottery chard on my property. I can feel the kinship with someone else who loved this land hundreds of years before, sharing with them, just by feeling his or her finger marks from crafting the pottery.

Sometimes these marks are at a spiritual place, like an odd rock formation. Sometimes they are at an ideal hunting location. For the ancients hunting was a spiritual matter, however.

We like to look for the identity of spiritual matters in the Earth’s nature. These are clues to help us get in touch with our innate nature, our primitive more in touch consciousness, to become one with all that we are, or have lost. Getting naked in the same turf, also does this, particularly when we know that these forbearers were also naked under the sun.

Sometimes, they just appear to be a way that some waiting hunter passed the time, like graffiti. Why go to the all the trouble? That was a lot of scrapping with primitive tools.

There are common sun symbols that coil like snakes. There is commonality to the symbols, like deer in most all places, so they weren’t just scribbling. This suggests communication. It would be a place where animals would seek water, and the canyon could be used to scare/herd them into the cliff/falls trapping them, but we don’t know for sure.

A Trap for Animals?

This one was a mural in proportion. One thing all of us Tortolitans like to do, is to report what kind of wildlife that we have seen, when we meet our neighbors. This graphic is a good list of wildlife. I couldn’t see them hunting horny-toads and praying mantis, gathering them, but you never know. They did love to barbeque packrat on a stick, a delicacy.

Praying Mantis the Walking Stick

We have to take off. Our start had been two hours late and we don’t know how far we have to go to meet another trail up stream. We don’t know if we will encounter cliffs, climbs or other obstructions, which would slow us, or make us backtrack, and it may get cold as the sun goes down. It looks like a long distance to a familiar mountain, so we march with little break, just in case.

Things turn out well. We find the young crested that we had seen a few weeks before and then the trail shows itself.

Crested Just Starting

We then know that we have enough time to search on upstream for another crested, which I had seen a couple of years before. At that time, I had been enjoying being completely naked and had no camera for that last opportunity. We find it, but that freeze has turned it into a clutter of debris. This one had been undocumented. These are like one in ten thousand. They are royalty and unique in the desert. It is a sad shame to see them killed and lost, a victim this world’s new extreme weather.

When we get back to the trail, we are in a screw it, let’s just grin and bare it state of mind. We also know that the timing would make it unlikely to bump into anyone. We leave our clothing in the pack, so it is difficult to acquire in a hurry. Sometimes you just know that it will be alright and walk on without the backup.

After reaching the truck again, we slowly do our 4×4 descent. We do come across a biker on the jeep trail. There is no covering. It is a thin space. He gets off to the edge of the road and waits, as to not crowd us into a ditch that runs down in the middle. He is over near my side, as we pass. I stick my hand up waving and staring into his eyes. He is being careful in this passage and watching my eyes, as well. With the eye contact, I am able to distract him. He sees DF, but not that she is naked. If you don’t stop and don’t expect them to get out of harm’s way, this is a good ploy and strategy.

I’m able to also use the same technique on three more bikers on the way down. One is my neighbor, who we have mentioned in previous writings. We had visited with him at his home while wandering the neighborhood nude, a couple of months earlier. This time, he has a group of friends with him. I block their view with the same strategy, but when glancing over, I see that DF has taken the towel that she had been sitting on and has covered her body, anyway.

We get home, shower and drive out to a small drum circle in the town of Oracle. While taking a break standing around a nice campfire, the discussion turns to hotsprings. We are with a group of nudists! One describes lying on a plastic raft in a hotspring of 102F water, “butt naked,” while light rain fell on her body. We are not alone. All over, people are privately enjoying naturism.



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4 thoughts on “In Search of Tortolita Petroglyphs: A Trip Report

  1. The Black Trans Nudist

    Great scenery. This is something I’d like to do. Thanks for sharing with us


  2. Dave R Cochran

    Sounds like an awesome time, made me feel as if I was on the hike myself! Thanks! Would love to visit the area!


  3. Pingback: Nudie News

  4. Pingback: New Years Day 2014 | EcoNudes

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