In search of Chumash cave paintings near Santa Barbara

@TheHorse (65785)
Pleasant Hill, California
June 6, 2017 10:48am CST
I made it back from Santa Barbara in one piece. It was good to see friends down there, and to take in the air, which always smells slightly of the ocean, and of the natural seepage of oil that leads to "beach tar" on the beaches there. One of the highlights for me was going hiking solo in the Santa Ynez Mountains on my way home. I was searching for some Chumash cave paintings that I used to take friends to see. The area is grown over now, and I had to bushwhack to search for the paintings I used to go to. I never did find them, but I did find one cave that had two paintings in it, one of the circle shown in this photo (I didn't have a camera with me), and another of a stick man. The Chumash were fisherman/gatherers who ate nuts in the mountains and were excellent navigators of the ocean near Santa Barbara. They were probably there for hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of years before the white man came. Now they have a Casino and a Reservation in the dry part of the Santa Ynez Valley. I buried a guitar pick in the sandstone in the cave I visited.
26 people like this
23 responses
@LadyDuck (157308)
• Switzerland
6 Jun 17
I read about Chumash people years ago, but I have never visited the caves In the Santa Ynez Mountains. Is there a reason why you buried a guitar pick in the sandstone in the cave? I am curious about ancient traditions.
5 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
I had no idea how to pay homage to the spirit ancestors of the Chumash. Playing guitar is my favorite thing in the material world. So I just left it there as a way to leave something unobtrusive and respectful. It's not based on any ritual that is known to me.
4 people like this
@LadyDuck (157308)
• Switzerland
6 Jun 17
@TheHorse It's not a ritual, but it is interesting, a sort of gift to the spirit ancestors.
2 people like this
@marlina (73884)
• Canada
6 Jun 17
@TheHorse Thanks for answering Anna's question.
2 people like this
@FourWalls (13739)
• United States
6 Jun 17
"And all the bead we made by hand are nowadays made in Japan." (John D. Loudermilk, "Indian Reservation [Lament of the Cherokee Indian]") How sad that the history is ignored in favor of tourist spots.
4 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
I felt peaceful sitting in the cave for awhile. I hoped the spirits didn't mind. I don't like money-grabbing tourist spots.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (56943)
• Los Angeles, California
6 Jun 17
I have been to that casino but did not know there was cave art.
3 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
There's a fairly good amount of it high in the Santa Ynez Mountains. The cave I visited is off of West Camino Cielo, near the pass. I believe the cave in the photo is off of West Camino Cielo
1 person likes this
@topffer (34146)
• France
6 Jun 17
I never heard about the Shumash. How old are supposed to be these paintings ? I find weird that the access is not protected and that they can be damaged by any visitor... not speaking of those burying strange things in the cave.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
There is less abuse of these paintings than most things I've seen in public places. But I have seen initials carved into some paintings, which is obscene. The best caves are sealed off and can only be visited at certain time, with supervision.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
I'll check to see how old they are.
2 people like this
@topffer (34146)
• France
6 Jun 17
@TheHorse There are not only initials, I see a lot of modern writings on your picture. Some people are really stupid.
2 people like this
@Corbin5 (106278)
• United States
6 Jun 17
Thanks for sharing this information, brand new information for me, with us! Never knew of the Chumash. Amazing photo.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
The cave I found wasn't as rich with art as this one. I believe this one to be from some other rocks on the other side of Highway 154, which is the "back route" into Santa Barbara CA.
1 person likes this
@Kandae11 (36962)
6 Jun 17
Could you elaborate a bit more on the Chumash?
2 people like this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
Here's a good summary. It appears that they lived up and down the "South Coast," with a concentration in the Santa Barbara area. They had apparently been there for literally thousands of years before the white man came.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Chumash bands Pictographs, Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park Total population (2,000[1]–5,000[2]) Regions with significant populations United States (California) Languages English and
1 person likes this
@DianneN (78116)
• United States
6 Jun 17
How exciting to at least find another cave with two paintings. I've read about the Chumash, but never visited the Santa Ynez Mountains.
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
@DianneN I'd like to see that! No designer sneakers allowed. Santa Barbara is a unique town. I never got out of flip flops and into sneakers until I went hiking on the way home. Two good Thai restaurants are called Your Place and Your Choice. I think they were started by the same family.
1 person likes this
@DianneN (78116)
• United States
6 Jun 17
@TheHorse I'd rather eat at your place. lol. I hope designer flip flops are allowed.
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
@DianneN If you tried to bushwhack to a Chumash cave painting with me in flip flops, you'd be cursing me, the maker of your flip flops, and even the Chumash. And your husband would have to run and hide for a couple of days.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41179)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
6 Jun 17
That has got to be extremely relaxing. Glad you enjoyed yourself.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
Sitting in that shallow cave, looking out at the live oak and manzanita, is a moment I'll go back to in my mind when I'm feeling overworked here.
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41179)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
7 Jun 17
@TheHorse - The only caves I know of close to here, you have to pay for a tour. Fun, but not the same.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
@teamfreak16 Exactly! I like being "on my own." Else it seems "packaged." There are actually some cave paintings near the rim (just inside) of the Grand Canyon. I'm pretty sure I was at the South rim.
1 person likes this
@dianadee (1727)
• South Africa
6 Jun 17
They look as if they were a very artistic people! Love the rusty colours.
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
The red in the cave I visited yesterday was surprisingly vivid after all of those decades (fifteen or twenty?).
1 person likes this
@dianadee (1727)
• South Africa
7 Jun 17
@TheHorse They must have used some oxides to get such a rich colour. What else?
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
@dianadee I actually haven't been able to find anything (yet) about what their paint was made from.
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@andriaperry (50774)
• United States
6 Jun 17
I have always wanted to go hiking but people around here always say "why?" or 'you wanna go walking?" Once again I am the odd ball in Alabama
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
I bet there are some pretty sights to see there. Where do you want to go?
2 people like this
@andriaperry (50774)
• United States
7 Jun 17
@TheHorse Well that will take some thought, no one has ever asked me where I wanted to go hiking but I do love caves and as a kid we used to go into everyone we found.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
@andriaperry Sounds like a Mark Twain story! The rocks here in California (a lot of sandstone near the coast) lend themselves well to small caves.
@DaddyEvil (24768)
• Aurora, Missouri
9 Jun 17
That looks like a beautiful cave painting, pony! It looks well preserved, too. I am curious if it has been documented and age typed... I'd like to know how long ago it was painted there in that cave. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't look all that old, to me. (Did you get that feeling when you found it?)
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
9 Jun 17
I didn't find this one. It's protected at "Painted Cave," where you can only "get in" at certain times. The ones I saw looked surprisingly vivid as well. Apparently they're hard to date accurately, but are from before 1850.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Jun 17
bless yer heart, 't least ya found somethin', eh? perhaps the next trip'll reveal more. gigglin' o'er yer pick, hopefully whome'er finds such'll know what the heck 't'd be, lol.
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
Maybe they'll think it's a very small cell phone. I don't know.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Jun 17
@TheHorse perhaps?
@AliCanary (1807)
6 Jun 17
What a cool expedition! I learned about the Chumash indians from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of all places. Apparently their tribe was almost eradicated when white people brought disease.
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
I'm not surprised. I think that happened to a lot of American Indian tribes.
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@AliCanary (1807)
6 Jun 17
@TheHorse - Sometimes even on purpose :(
@snowy22315 (47178)
• United States
7 Jun 17
That is pretty interesting!
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
Or pretty and interesting. Heh.
@bluesa (13421)
• Johannesburg, South Africa
7 Jun 17
It's amazing that art has always been there, cave paintings are fascinating @TheHorse . I wonder if you will find this particular cave again one day...
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
I think I can find this one again. It's actually closer to the "trail" than the ones I used to visit.
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@TKip8411 (55)
7 Jun 17
sounds beautiful!
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@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
It really was. And I'm glad I did it solo.
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@valmnz (12758)
• New Zealand
7 Jun 17
I like that you left something of your spirit behind. Thanks for introducing me to the Chumash cave paintings.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
It's a pleasure. I hope to go back there again, maybe with long pants on.
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (10771)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
7 Jun 17
The cave paintings are cool. I also like the idea of leaving something behind to mark your own passage.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
I wanted to do something respectful.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (25690)
• United States
6 Jun 17
What a shame you didn't find the cave paintings.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
7 Jun 17
I did find two, but they were in a cave I don't remember from my previous explorations there.
@jstory07 (67081)
• Roseburg, Oregon
6 Jun 17
They had good lives until the white man came and ruined their world for them.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (65785)
• Pleasant Hill, California
6 Jun 17
Yep. I feel more comfortable sitting in one of their caves than I do at a tourist trap in Santa Barbara.