Thursday, April 1, 2010

65 Degrees and Rising

Amateur Archaeologist

Take a look outside today and you will see snowflakes in the air. Walk out to feed the horses, and the north wind will burn your face. After months of these conditions, Dangerous and I were irritable and short tempered. To treat our extreme cabin fever, we had to find a warm place to hike and explore. As usual, Dangerous and I jumped in the truck and drove 300 miles south to spend five days hiking, eating, and talking with friends in Bluff. It's incredible what sunshine and 65 degree temperatures will do to cure cabin fever.

Bluff Accommodations

We don't exactly rough it when staying in Bluff. Rather than crowding into two or three small motel rooms, this year we rented the "West Unit" where everyone had their own room. Well, almost everyone. Dangerous doesn't trust me alone, so I had to bunk with him. I freely roamed the entire place, but spent most of my time lying under the kitchen table. When on these trips, the boys don't waste time in the living room watching TV. When not hiking, they sit around the kitchen table stuffing their faces and planning our next hike. I'm not much interested in the hike talk, but I do enjoy all the treats offered me under the table during these strategic planning sessions.

Transcendental Sites

The boys who joined us in Bluff this year were a different bunch than past springs. For Bill, Rich, and John, they were visiting the various Butler Wash ruins for the first time. Dangerous and I have seen them all many times before, but it was interesting to see them again through different eyes. I patiently waited and listened as they carefully observed and discussed each rock art panel and ruin.

Rich, Rosie, John, and Bill at the Procession Panel

They spent a great deal of time speculating about the meaning of the Procession Panel. As you can see, the panel is named for the three long lines of figures marching towards a circle. The explanations ranged from the ancient ones marching back to the underworld from where they originally emerged to a trip to the Golden Arches for cheeseburgers. While the first explanation is more mythical, I prefer the more practical idea of obtaining food. As you may have guessed, it was close to lunch when Dangerous snapped this picture, and I was hungry.

Roof Beam Still in Place

As always, examining an ancient kiva causes the most speculation and discussion. Trying to imagine what went on in its depths 750 years ago produces lively and interesting discussion. For all of us, we tried to imagine the spiritual and mystical forces that caused these ancient people to collect and move the materials needed to build this religious structure. With stone tools and fire, they cut the large roof beams that covered their underground temple. After dropping the logs, probably miles away, they had to transport them to the site without the aid of draft animals. While rocks are plentiful in the area, they still had to collect them and painstakingly lay them in place without a modern transit or other leveling device. I heard Dangerous ask Bill the architect whether he thought today's buildings will still be standing 800 years from now.

The Ancient Ones Return

Dangerous tells everyone that if conditions are just right you can clearly imagine what life was really like for the ancient ones who populated the Comb Ridge canyons. He tells me that with a little imagination you can recreate the swirl of daily living at these prehistoric sites. Listen carefully and you can hear the children playing, the turkeys gobbling, and the dogs barking. With a little more imagination, you can smell the corn meal and mountain sheep stew boiling in a clay pot over the open fire. I always thought Dangerous had an over active imagination, but this time I have to agree with him. If you look closely, you can see two ancient residents of Comb Ridge peering back through time at you. Love to hear from you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great photos and tales..Chaco Canyon is our next would be a fun couple of days if you all joined us!