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"She Who Watches"

Years ago on a hot autumn day, my sister and I stopped at Horsethief Lake campground for a hike down the railroad tracks, through poison oak and past rattlesnakes hidden in basalt outcroppings to see pictographs and petroglyphs on the rocks, the most famous of which is Tsagaglalal, or “She Who Watches,” overlooking the Columbia. Rewarded by the primitive animal images, there were some that we couldn’t help but think might simply be ancient graffiti. Seared by the sun, we gasped our way out of the rocks and straggled to our baking car. The lake! Hidden by low brush, we stripped to our underwear and leaped in. It is not a swimming lake. We laughed and swam trying to keep above the slimy tangle of creepy waterweeds.

The park now has an easily accessible row of thrilling Native American pictographs (paintings) and petroglyphs (carvings) on giant basalt slabs saved from other sites before the dam flooding. Hiking on one’s own to view Tsagaglalal is now prohibited, but guided tours are available through the Park Service.

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