Nelson is the most spectacular gallery in Range Creek. I spy a sun-disk petroglyph with 13 spokes, and two figures that look like warriors, with a lightning bolt passing between their heads. Maybe it means they’re empaths, able to feel each other’s pain. Maybe it’s a warning sign for intruders. In another, a ram leaps up a wall, exposing his fat belly to a hunter’s bow. Is this a prayer for food, or a prehistoric hunter’s way of showing off? Either way, the artist clearly likes to kill things. Then I come upon the Falling Man. He has a triangular head, his arms splayed out, legs pointed skyward like a tuning fork. Someone etched this figure at the bottom of a nasty drop just below a granary. Had someone shoved a corn burglar off the cliff face? I want to make sense of all these images, but I’m on my own.
Later, I call a few archaeologists, who each tell me something very cool: They have no answers. My hunches are as good as any. All theories are plausible in Range Creek–even the wild ones. In one last effort to figure these images out, I call Waldo. After all, the rancher has looked at them more than anybody.
"What do they mean?" he repeats. "Well, it all depends on how much imagination you got. I could tell you them people got off flying saucers, or that they got off of Noah’s Ark, and nobody could say that I’m wrong."