Saturday, July 06, 2013

Desperately Seeking Stone Mother: Pyramid Lake, NV

Hi beautiful peoples,

It's been a month since I visited Reno, yet I still feel as happy and blessed about my time there as I did when I first came back home to Philly.  The last full day I was in Reno, my friend Elizabeth took me to Pyramid Lake in search of the Great Stone Mother.

Elizabeth took this picture of me as I was walking out on a boat dock over Pyramid Lake.  It was a magical place . . . and HOT as hell!  No lie, it was about 100 degrees, and we were out in the desert.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me start this story at the beginning :)

The story begins with Elizabeth piquing my interest by telling me that Pyramid Lake was shrouded in legends: the legends of the Stone Mother and the water babies of Pyramid Lake.  It is important to understand that the lake is located on the Paiute Indian Tribe reservation, and the legends of Stone Mother and the water babies originate in their folklore and oral tradition.  The story of the Great Stone Mother is an origin myth about the creation of the Paiute people and the lake itself.  It is based on a rock formation located just off the pyramid-shaped rock formation for which the lake is clearly named; the Stone Mother rock formation looks like a Paiute woman with her head covered and an empty basket next to her.  According to the legend, Pyramid Lake was formed from her falling tears when her children were sent away from her.  She sat so long missing them and hoping for their return that she turned to stone.  To read the full story, please click the following link:

Great Stone Mother legend:

The water babies story is a bit more controversial, I believe.  There are conflicting stories.  According to one website, the story that the Paiute people tell is of a mermaid-like creature who puts a curse on the lake after she is rejected by the Paiute tribe when a Paiute man falls in love with her.  For the full story, check out the following link:

After hearing about these stories, I had to go to Pyramid Lake!  I wanted to see Stone Mother, pay homage to her, experience her spirit and the spirit of this place that she watches over.  So in long, hella thick and heavy jeans (I didn't think to pack shorts--my suitcase was full of books!) and a 100 degree swelter of a day in the desert, Elizabeth and I set out to Pyramid Lake in Blue Thunder.  Here are pictures of Elizabeth and me standing with Blue Thunder:

Blue Thunder is Elizabeth's fierce Thunderbird car--she's seen better days (I'm talking about the car :) but she was awesome! Blue Thunder and I got along from day one when I opened her tricky passenger door with no problem--it was all just a test to weed out the worthy from the unworthy who would dare to ride shotgun lol! That was when I knew she liked me and that Elizabeth and I would be going to great places around Reno in this car!  So with the windows cranked down--Blue Thunder's version of AC lol!--we drove to Pyramid Lake seeking Stone Mother in a car named after a mythological creature from Native American legend (how cool is that! :)

After driving through mountains and desert for about 45 mins, the land opened up before us, and we could see Pyramid Lake.  Dear people, the sight was truly magical: the water was a deep blue and the cerulean-colored sky seemed to spread so wide above us.

Isn't it gorgeous?!  Alas, when we got to Pyramid Lake, we didn't know where to find Stone Mother--this lake is HUGE.  It's 69 miles around the perimeter of the lake--here's a Google map of the lake so you can get a sense of its shape and size: Map of Pyramid Lake,

We started driving up-and-down the west side of the lake along 445, hoping Stone Mother would send us some signs.  But she remained silent and invisible as we drove north along the west side of the lake.  We eventually ran out of paved road and continued driving on a rocky, dirt road.  Then rising suddenly in the middle of the desert like a magical, lost forgotten land was a grove of trees.  We later learned at the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitor Center that this place is called the Willows:

Beneath the trees, the land seemed peaceful, the breeze calm and soothing.  Even the clouds seemed to dance in the sky:

I hope you all feel the tranquility of these beautiful pictures :) In a later post, I will continue the story of our adventures searching for Stone Mother, conquering rocks in bare feet, evading caves smelling of all kinds of urine, and visiting the Pyramid Lake Museum and Visitors Center.


Much love,