Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More on Carved Outlaw Maps

When you are dealing with outlaws, and some other groups, you will occasionally run across a carved map that just looks like a jumbled mess. When you first see these maps you think to yourself, “now just how in the hell am I supposed to know what that means?”

First off, you have to decide if it is really a map or did some clown get bored and start carving on a rock. Once you have decided it is a map you need to determine which direction to look at it from. Is it mirror imaged? Is it split? Do I read it from left to right or right to left? There are several questions you have to ask and they will change with each map. Each map will have it’s own complex issues and tricks, and there are always tricks!

The best thing to do when interpreting a map is take it one symbol at a time. Don’t try to get ahead of yourself by interpreting symbols you haven’t gotten to. You will find that a lot of the symbols won’t mean what you thought they would mean once you actually see what they are showing you in the field. Sometimes what is carved is exactly what you see.

In the case of the carved map I posted with this article you will see that there is the letter “H” in the carving. There are several meanings that an H can have but in this case it was just the letter H.

This particular carving was high on a bluff above a small valley floor. In the valley floor was a boulder with the letter H carved on it. Everything in this carving up to the point of the letter H was to take you off of the bluff, down into the valley floor and to the H. It just so happens that this H in the valley floor was the clue you needed to find the carved map in the first place. The first time you see the H you are in the valley floor below the carved map. The map is 30-40 feet above you on the bluff and cannot be seen from the ground. If you interpret this H as meaning “high” or “hill” and look up you will go to the only bluff above the H and find the map.

The carving then takes you down the side of the valley, around a small knoll and back to the H carved on the rock in the valley floor below the carving. I always like being run in circles by some outlaw, it’s not like I don’t do it enough on my own!

If I had been trying to interpret this map without actually being in the field the first thing I would have thought was that the H was meant to depict a tunnel or a box canyon. This would have been completely wrong and would have cost a lot of time and exercise looking for something that doesn’t exist.

Unless the map tells you to work a set of symbols together, always work them one at a time. How do you know if symbols are to be worked together? Most of the time it will be fairly obvious. Those symbols will be grouped together rather obviously or they might have a box carved around them or a circle enclosing them, they could be underlined, etc.

I can’t stress enough how much common sense comes into play when trying to interpret carved symbols. It’s all about what is around you at the time you are interpreting the symbol. As you move along the trail depicted by the map you will see things that are carved in the map. Most maps will have an instruction that takes you to a point, usually an obvious point such as some type of man made marker or it will take you to something that is depicted on the map right after the instruction as in “go this way, make a turn and see this”.

There are no set rules with outlaw maps, they were all made to fit the terrain and the mindset of the outlaw at the time he or she made the map.


Anonymous said...

so, did you find anything?

Ron said...

I haven't finished working this carving yet so I haven't found the "end"