Fish Springs Site IV

Round Trip Distance: 500 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 3983 - 3996 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Fish Springs Site IV
Fee: none
Attractions: petroglyphs, mortar

Fish Springs Site IV is the last of four petroglyph sites that are located along the Tinemaha cutoff road about 7 miles south of Big Pine, California. Each site has a varying number of petroglyphs that were pecked upon basalt boulders. Site IV also includes a boulder that has a large mortar.

To get there from Big Pine head south on US-395 for 4.8 miles and turn right onto the Fish Springs Road. Continue for 2.1 miles and go right onto the Tinemaha Road cutoff. Continue for another 3 tenths of a mile and turn right onto a dirt 4wd road that is just past a short basalt hill. Immediately after turning off of the Tinemaha Road is the trailhead for Site III. Site IV is another tenth of a mile further on the 4wd road. The dirt road is flat up to this point as can be seen in the above photo and should be easily passable by most any 2wd highway vehicles if they don't mind a few bushes scraping their undercarriage. Of course, simply walking the tenth of a mile from Site III might reveal even more petroglyphs. 

The site doesn't look like much from the road but it has enough to make it interesting. The boulder with the mortar is on the back side of this little hill.

This fractured, outcropping, boulder is just a few feet from the road and has images on its east side.

This is a good example of why you shouldn't touch petroglyphs. The damage done here probably began initially when the images were made. It is the type of panel that the maker would have pressed against and that others would have leaned upon. That combined with good ole sunshine and maybe even acid rain give the images little chance of lasting. Be sure not to do anything yourself to hasten the process.

The images down upon the side of the boulder are differently situated. They could be made without touching the surface so much and wouldn't have been trod upon. The major difference is that the patina on the surface and the rock itself isn't dissolved or eaten away around the images.

The patina on this rock is eaten away down near the ground. Just guessing but that might have something to do with rain and the minerals in the soil. Whatever the process is we see it everywhere.

Same broad lines like one of the previous boulders but without the wearing away of the patina around the lines.

There seems to be something intentional with the placing of the circular images on these rocks with two of the images near the edge on either side of the gap between the boulders.Of course, whatever the intended meaning is it alludes us.

On the backside of the outcrop there is a flat top boulder with a large mortar the size of a mixing bowl. The work area around the mortar shows the same chemical effect mentioned earlier that comes from oil that is transferred to the rock from skin contact and maybe other activities related to thrashing or food prep.

A field of stars.

We surely belabored the point about the damage caused by touching rock art but there were some pretty good examples of it here that it seemed like a good time to put it in the spotlight. In the background of this photo you can see a few trees along Tinemaha Creek. The short section of the cliff that is almost right over the hood of our truck is close to where you will find the Birch Creek site. It is either there or a little more to the right. This does it for the four Fish Springs sites so if you would like to see them for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.