Desert pavement on Penistaja Mesa. Pebbles eroded 65 million years ago from long-lost ranges, tumbled in quick creeks and dropped at the feet of trees in green estuaries. Time and the rains wash away the clays from the polished stone. Here’s where we walk, marveling.
And hunters had waited. On the peninsula was a thousand-year-old Archaic camp, its earth black with twelve to eighteen inches of ashy midden. Eighty feet above the valley floor, craning our necks, we could see that its crumbling north edge was formed of friable Tertiary sediments. The site itself looked “broken in half” like Dun Aengus, the cliff’s-edge fort from the Irish Iron Age, which the Atlantic has half devoured.
Following the game trail, we circled down to the bottom of the cliff. At its base stood an intact chunk of the site. It had slid from the edge where we had leaned and still stood upright, complete with ashes and flakes. On the cliff face rivulets of ashy mud trailed from the broken edge .
Ignorant, we had stood on that undercut, sleazy, brittle cliff’s edge, eighty feet above the valley floor.