Bedrock Mortar On Munson Creek, Pine Mountain

I intended to hike up the canyon to Munson Spring, but a rather dense bramble of wild rose eventually forced me to turn around. My thin nylon hiking pants were no match for all the tiny thorns and my legs were getting shredded. Which wouldn’t have stopped me short normally, but I wasn’t in the mood that day for serving as a pin cushion or bushwhacking and lacerations. So on the way back down creek I wandered over to this rock formation that caught my eye on the hike up. It was filled with holes like Swiss cheese and I had noticed a cave that had looked large enough to crawl inside. Upon entering the small sandstone hollow I found a bedrock mortar.

Looking up Munson Creek from the formation with the mortar.

The formation showing the cave mouth just barely visible on the lower right.

Cave mouth.

Inside the cave.

Cave's eye view looking toward the summit of Pine Mountain.

The mortar.

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4 Responses to Bedrock Mortar On Munson Creek, Pine Mountain

  1. Nico says:

    Looks like a great spot. I’ll have to keep an eye out the next time I’m up that way.

    I was up in the Mission Pine Springs area recently and found a number of depressions worn into rocks in scattered places. Some seemed like they could be mortars; others maybe just small tenajas. I would tend to expect mortars to be near an occupation site/hunting camp, reliable water source, etc. Some of these were, but it’s just hard to tell sometimes unless there’s obvious clues nearby. Nonetheless, they looked like great spots to spend a night.

    Yours looks likely to be a mortar in my mind, considering it’s inside a roofed cave. Great find!

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Yeah, some of these things are hard to tell. This particular one had a smooth, evenly ground bottom. It’s texture is far smoother than the surrounding rock suggesting it had indeed been ground down. You can sort of see the lip edge of the bowl where it meets the rougher rock toward the lower right hand corner, which looks like other mortars I’ve seen. There is, of course, always the chance it is merely a naturally created depression, but it looks quite similar relative other mortars that I know are authentic and it is on a creek with year round water.

  2. Nathan says:

    What are your thoughts on the authenticity of the pictograph inside this hollow? Is it just a bunch of smoke and mirrors? By the way, awesome shot of this cave’s eye view. I’m fascinated with its close resemblance to the shape of a bird’s head. When I was there I waited a few hours for the light to “beak” in the cave until the effect was somewhat similar to the lighting in your picture. Then I took my shot. If you get a chance check out a close-up aerial view of this site via google earth with your compass pointing south and look 100 feet to the left of the cave’s location. If you are as crazy as I am you might see the shape of a condor head in the rock’s formation.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Hey Nathan. I’m skeptical. I don’t think it’s legit. If I recall correctly, there appears to be faint traces of color in the stone, but I didn’t spend much time analyzing it or thinking on it much because I didn’t think it was real at first glance. As you know if you’ve been in the cave, it is defaced with a bit of modern graffiti and I think that is the extent of it.

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