(August 1, 2017)—On the first and fourth of June I went on a hike down to the San Francisco River as part of an experimental archaeology group with Allen Denoyer. We parked at the beginning of the hiking trail, shouldered on our gear, and began our trek down. Near the halfway point, we skirted along a series of trails that zigzagged along the side of a steep slope. As we stopped to take a break, we noticed a trio of rams running along the slope toward the other side of a small valley.
As we pushed on, we saw that the rams had successfully made it to the other side, and now they observed our progress with interest. We stopped near a clearing of flood-deposited materials. There Allen began to educate us in the ways of flintknapping, a skill I admittedly have no talent for. Despite its difficulty, it was very interesting to hear Allen explain the process and physics behind knapping and pressure flaking.
After our knapping session and a quick lunch, we made to the banks of a bend in the San Francisco River, where the river had effectively cut a swimming hole into the silt. Nearby were several hot water vents where previous visitors had built up handmade mud and stone “hot tubs” to soak in. These pleasant surroundings made it more difficult to focus on Allen’s next project for us, making atlatls.
As we sat by the river working our atlatls, we noticed a small group of pronghorn making their way along the ridges above us. Allen told us how rare it was to see so many of these beautiful animals this close, in their natural setting, and how this was a very lucky sight to see. All I can say was that he was absolutely right.