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Summer 2001
Rock Star
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At the far end of the lake, teams of volunteers clamber over the cliff where a profusion of petroglyph styles suggests that travelers added images as they passed through. Ji-Son Choi, a UCLA junior, is high among the rocks with Elizabeth Edmunds, a student at South Torrance High School, searching for petroglyphs that have been mapped but not photographed. Even with help from spotters on the ground, the job is a challenge, in part because images appear and disappear as the angle of the sun changes. Already, Choi says, they've lost sight of a four-figure group -- the two students dub it "Backstreet Boys" -- that they know is on the rock face right beside them. Down below, retiree Audrey Kopp '54, M.Ed. '55 is peering at the base of the cliff, certain that petroglyph 19-103 -- of which she holds a photocopied picture -- is in front of her. The task sounds easy enough: Study the pattern of fractures in the photocopy, then search the rock face for its match. But after 10 minutes, Kopp gives up. If the image is there, it is hiding from her.

Still, the day is a success. By the time the sun sets and evening's chill sets in, many missing petroglyphs have been located, and many others have been mapped for the first time. Van Tilburg's volunteers gather at the lakeside picnic area for a potluck dinner of stew, vegetarian chili, pasta salads, roast chicken and a delicious tuna loaf concocted by Natalie Ferriz, a French archaeologist who is among the volunteers. Brilliant stars and a waxing moon illuminate the lake, and choruses of frogs serenade the party, gathered close around a campfire with cups of wine and tea. Van Tilburg is laughing and telling stories. In the shadows, mountain sheep drawn centuries ago keep watch.

Lawrence Biemiller is a senior writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Copyright 2001, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Reprinted with permission.


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