Many Trails To Travel, Many Tales To Tell
By Barbara B. Baker, Event & Volunteer Coordinator
IN THE SHADOW OF THE VALLEY
It’s early in the year and the rains have come down hard! I always think of February more than January as the gray dreary winter of Southern California – we don’t have snow and ice, but the wet cold goes straight to my bones! The alternative to getting outside and “soaking” up the scenery, however, is to stay indoors where the heated air is stale and people are coughing and sneezing everywhere I go; staying home isn’t much better. The smells of the kitchen are nothing like the aromas from the holiday treats of the last months, and the house itself looks bare because all the decorations have been stripped and put away. The only upcoming celebration is Groundhog Day, and that calendared event is mostly for the rest of the country digging out!
Photos by Max Kiltz
Wearing a fashionable new scarf set and a backpack that I got for Christmas, I set off down the Mule Hill/ San Pasqual Valley Trail. While I have learned the hard way that fashion isn’t everything, sometimes the world seems a little brighter with splashes of color in my own myopic field of vision; as long as it didn’t drizzle too much I figured there was nothing wrong with looking good against the chill. The muddy trails wouldn’t splatter my hat and gloves, after all. Almost immediately I discovered that being on the inside looking out is vastly different than being up close. The colors of the rain and the earth and the sky are very vivid – Visine clear, deep green, and dark chocolate and the air crisp rather than stifling.
I decided to skip past the Mule Hill Historical Trail and save and savor that on a sunny day when reading about battles and the old town of Bernardo would be an activity in and of itself. On this day I just wanted to meander; like the San Dieguito River, I wanted to slowly wind around seeing where the scenery would take me. It’s surprising how much the rain unearths. At first I was oblivious to my feet -- I don’t think about where I’m walking until I trip over something. My concentration was eye level. But I did trip, though it wasn’t over anything as big as a groundhog! Things wash up after storms. I always think that this is where the archaeologists’ passion begins. It starts quite by accident, and then one thing leads to another and another.
The San Pasqual Valley Trail is rich in both prehistory and history. If ever there was a place to let imagination run wild, this is it! The rock formations make me wonder if there were volcanoes in this area. Did water cover the entire valley? I thought about the native legends and lore and the diversity of life here where the eagles soared and their spirits were recorded in the tales of the various bands and tribes. As I walked along I saw signs of sensitive habitat areas alongside the agricultural preserve where all kinds of things grow. I decided on a brighter day I would take a closer look at what’s being grown here and find out what was planted in the past. I know San Diego County has a rich agricultural history, in part because of this valley.
I worked my way up to Raptor Ridge, a romantic name worthy of its title. The valley views offer much of the same glimpse that early settlers had. What about their stories? Recorded by what they left behind, their records weren’t all written. Farming implements, day to day living items, even their garbage, are now considered artifacts. I know if I dropped a glove while examining a rock with my bare hand, it too could be buried by rains and surface years from now. I’m sure they’ll ask, “What’s an acrylic and cotton blend?” and that will set off speculation and years of research! I know that any manmade object shouldn’t be moved from where it is found because of its historical context, so my glove would remain here safe for the ages . . .
As I was daydreaming, a myriad of thoughts occurred to me: What should I do if I find something on the trail that seems significant? Who would I contact? What happens after that? What is the process? How long does it take to find a treasure and then take all the steps from there to share it with everybody else? Who gets the credit? Who owns the land? Who has claim to any artifacts? All of this ran through my mind as I hiked along, half hoping that I’d find something incredibly important, and half hoping I wouldn’t because I don’t have answers to all these questions. I spent the afternoon wandering, enjoying the time outdoors. The grayness disappeared as my own outlook improved. There’s a lot to see and think about out here.
When the rains subsided, I held on to my daydreams of kicking along and finding objects of cultural or historical value along the trail through the valley. Who else, maybe even on the same day, paused to think about the glories of being an archaeologist, a glittering high stakes, low pay profession? Do all of us yearn to be an Indiana Jones? The San Dieguito River Park is an open greenway with endless possibilities of exploration and discoveries, however measured. The San Pasqual Valley sparks the imagination and the trail makes it possible to dream of what was just by looking! Hike, take a bicycle, ride a horse, but get out on the trail. After the sun broke through, I came to another understanding: dreaming isn’t enough.
The San Dieguito River Park will sponsor two events this spring offering opportunities to study the Valley’s exciting history and to learn about excavation techniques and the process of retrieving artifacts, and their management and care. On Saturday, April 9 th, the San Diego Archaeological Center will host Artifact Interact. The session runs from 10:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and includes a tour of the Center, talks and materials concerning the collection, and a hands-on approach to archaeology. On Saturday, April 23rd, the San Pasqual Battlefied Visitor Center will host In the Shadow of the Valley from 10:00 am. to 1:30 p.m. This seminar includes a tour of the site, lectures and film, and living history.
Please register for these seminars by calling Barbara at (858) 674-2275 x 14 The cost is $18 per workshop which includes snacks and lunch on site. The fee also covers materials and printing costs. The San Pasqual Valley is rich in cultural and historical resources. I know that there’s a lot to talk about and a lot to learn, but I like to think that we don’t all have to be scholars to have fun. I plan to be out on the trail again; it is after all almost nine miles long! After these two dates at the Archaeology Center and Battlefield Museum, my musings will be clearer and I’ll have answers to my questions. But I don’t think I’ll give up daydreaming because who knows what I’ll stumble across next!
I’ll see you in the Spring! Mark the dates, give me a call or e-mail me at Barbara@sdrp.org, and register!
April 9th Artifact Interact
April 23rd In the Shadow of the Valley
If you have a favorite trail or story please contact me at Barbara@sdrp.org. History isn’t always in the books; sometimes it’s in the stories! Share your history with the San Dieguito River Park.