June 24, 2016: Shepherd’s huts and stone rings in the White Mountains

Just because our cold frame project is finished doesn’t mean we can’t go to the White Mountains.  We love it up here at 13,000 feet.


Last year we noticed that the place is full of old stone shepherd’s huts.  We assumed these were made by Basque people between 1850 and 1950.  This year we came back to survey, and boy we have just scratched the surface.  Stone structures are absolutely everywhere.  Not all of them look the same.  Besides proper huts, there are stone walls, circles, crescents, horseshoes, doughnuts, etc.  Some of them are really too small or too full of sharp rocks to lie down in comfortably.

Snow Gauge

Some are probably prehistoric hunting blinds.  There are lots of deer and bighorn sheep up here, and lots of obsidian arrowheads.  To kill an animal with a bow and arrow means you have to get close, and there is no natural cover here.  But you can hide behind a low stone wall or circle.

Insomniac's Roost

There are other structures that look more like hut circles (tent pads, basically), windbreaks, or food caches.  We made detailed measurements and generated 22 pages of data.  We know of dozens more structures that we haven’t been to yet.

Stone huts

What does a “proper” shepherd’s hut look like?   It has a fireplace on the south side with a chimney.  It faces north or east.  Stones with naturally flat faces are stacked neatly with the faces in a plane to make one big face.  It has low “spurs” flanking the doorway.  It does not have to have a roof.  Around it are artifacts like metal cans, horseshoes, cut wood, shoe leather, or pieces of glass.  The name “A. Giraud” was found on two of them.

Big Stone

We only observed and photographed them.  We moved nothing and left all artifacts in place.

Crooked Creek

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