Read The Writing On The Wall
History: The Petroglyph Point area of Lava Beds National Monument hardly resembles the landscape that Kamookumpts created in the beginning. Kamookumpts being the creator according to Modoc Indian teachings. The Modoc Indians occupied this part of California perhaps 11,500 years ago. This area was a vast lake, what we now refer to as Tule Lake. Petroglyph point was an island in that lake and the Modoc would canoe out to the island and make carvings in the soft rock. In the early 1900s, pioneers started altering the natural flow of water in this region for agricultural reasons and eventually drained the lake leaving only wetlands,sumps and canals. Petroglyph point has more than 5,000 carvings dating back as early as 6,400 years ago according to archaeologists.
Hike: This site is far removed from the main geographic area of Lava Beds National Monument but under its tutelage. From the trailhead, the landmark known as Petroglyph point lies ahead. With a two hundred foot sheer cliff it is impressive. The rock face is pot marked and upon closer examination occupied by many local birds. Raptors compliment the many Cliff Swallows. Watch for Prairie Falcons, Kestrels, Red tailed Hawks and Owls. The trail follows along the rock face without any sign of writings but that soon changes. Ahead a chain link fence marks the beginning of the Petroglyph panels. The fence was erected in the 1930s to stem vandalism to the site. Writings at several levels can be seen many deeply carved into the soft volcanic tuff and may extend well below the present footpath. The Modoc people were fishermen and perhaps that explains why there are so few animal images. The images are mainly geometric patterns. Hiking along the rock face you will notice modern graffiti and even some Japanese characters. This area was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War 11. This is certainly not a remote trail as there is agricultural activity all around. Nearby canals are filled with water birds who are scared into flight by passing tractors. The trail stops abruptly with signs warning against disrupting nesting birds but allows for a lasso loop around back to the trailhead.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.