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Wandering WY: Legend Rock

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

What stories will the marks we leave tell after we’re long gone? I’m sure all of you have had a conversation at some point that goes over the dangers of posting online because once it’s online… it’s there forever!

Believe it or not, we humans have actually been sharing our stories in such a permanent fashion since pretty much the beginning of recorded time! On cliffs, in caves, on clay and parchment, we’ve tried to capture important moments, transactions, and the highest and lowest ideals of our societies.

Looking back from today’s society it’s easy to judge what those who came before us recorded in every medium. Standing in front of Legend Rock my 6-year-old brother told our guide that, “they needed better artists!” Our phenomenal guide, archaeologist and good friend Bonnie, laughed, “Sure! This was really like one of the first art museums and some of the artists were obviously really good… some of them not so much.”

Walking along the rock face Bonnie told us about what archaeologists think each of the different types of pictures mean, “… but really it’s just educated guessing because we can’t go back and ask the artists what they were thinking when they created the petroglyphs,” She told us.

My Grandpa then began making up all sorts of stories about the Legend Rock petroglyphs we were looking at. My favorite story Bonnie told us was about the water ghost woman who was said to hide in rivers, streams, and lakes. If you got too close she would reach out and pull you in drowning her prey!

Bonnie told us that Legend Rock is especially important because nearly every tribe in the region has been to Legend Rock to receive visions on their vision quests. This makes Legend Rock a sacred site where Native tribes for thousands of years have come to find guidance, answers, and connection.

Somethings Legend Rock has in common with other sites is its nearness to water and the common sightings of eagle nests in the rocks. Eagles are sacred in Native cultures and often represent the messengers of the Creator. The petroglyphs on Legend Rock may represent both the message received by the artist from the Creator and the message to the Creator from the artist.

Mom was concerned about the rain as we drove to meet Bonnie at the Legend Rock State Historic Site. Although the water is a real concern for taking pictures, Bonnie shared with us that the best time to view the petroglyphs was when it was cloudy. Sunshine can actually make it more difficult to see many of the ancient pictures!

There was a nice covered picnic area and visitor center near the parking lot before the short walk up along the rock face. As far as a hike goes this is more like an easy walk. The trail is a bit uneven and narrow in places but generally accessible.

I left in awe of these stories carved in the stone. Our guessing game about their different meanings had been fun but it left me thinking about the question I asked at the beginning of this post: what stories will the marks that we leave tell about us when we’re gone? Are we good artists? What will a generation thousands of years from now think about our social media feeds? Will scientists study them and try to forge a better future for humanity based on what they learn from them?

Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!

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