Continuing with my trip Out West, on August 27, 2016 I was starting my first full day at the Square Tower Campground at Hovenweep National Monument.
It was time to head out exploring.
I’ve mentioned before that it was what they call “monsoon” season. As summer wanes, the jet stream moves and thunderstorms or downpours become fairly common. I woke up to this view of Sleeping Ute Mountain. Expect to see many more pictures of the Sleeping Ute.
[Again, WordPress shows all pictures as 500 pixels wide. Most of my pictures are wider than that, like 750×500, and the particularly scenic ones I often do at 900×600. So click on them (or right click and open the link in a new tab) for the full-size versions.]
That was the view from my campsite’s picnic table (though I did have to stand on the table to get a better perspective).
After breakfast I headed out to the other nearby units of Hovenweep: Holly and Horseshoe/Hackberry. Here’s where they sit relative to the Square Tower (Little Ruin Canyon) unit and my campground.
Getting to the other units is a bit of a challenge, and best done with a high-clearance vehicle. Here’s what the road looks like. The rocks are a bit of a challenge when it comes to not scraping the car’s undercarriage.
Here I am in front of the major ruins at Holly.
The Google Maps overhead view gives you a pretty good feel for how things are arranged.
I’m standing about where I’ve placed the red dot, and my camera/tripod were at the blue dot. One thing that’s not particularly obvious from these pictures is the placement of that nearer building. Here’s a better shot.
Yoicks! That’s a pretty precarious position, and it’s pretty hard to get to. Just think of trying to construct that.
After the previous picture I walked around to the other side. This time across the canyon you can see the large, flat platform I was standing on when I took the other pictures.
From there I drove back to the Horseshoe/Hackberry unit. They had some “useful” advice at the entrance.
Hmmm. I’ve always counted bare feet as my sturdiest shoes. (Not only that, but these trails are among the most benign I’ve ever walked on.)
The portion nearest the entrance is Hackberry Canyon. Unfortunately, the ruins there are mainly pretty much . . . uh . . . ruined. When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that the mortar has lasted as long as it has.
Farther east is the Horseshoe, but I find I didn’t take any good picture of it. But you can see it in the upper right portion of this Google Map overhead shot (and you can see why it’s called the “Horseshoe”).
However, I did manage to take a good close-up picture of the wall.
Those extra little chips in the mortar help to hold things together by providing protection from the mortar shrinking and expanding with the weather.
And here is an even closer look at a portion of the wall.
Ah. A local resident. I think it is a fence lizard (but feel free to correct me if you know—my other choice was a common sagebrush lizard).
In fact, on this particular (short) hike I saw more wildlife than anywhere. I saw another one on my hike back through Holly towards my car.
I also saw this lizard, which may be another kind of fence lizard?
But don’t believe me! We don’t have much more than 5-lined skinks here in Ohio (that I’ve even seen), so my lizard-identification eye stinks.
And then there was this rabbit wandering around.
Heading back through Hackberry I got a look down the canyon. It’s really not all that steep, except near the head.
And of course, when looking around into the distance, there is always a good chance of seeing our good friend.
Finally, while in Hackberry I wanted to actually get a good picture of a Hackberry tree. I’d seen some that were some marked with signs as I originally passed by, but they were off in the distance and didn’t really show up in any picture. It was only on the return trip that I realized I’d passed right by one next to the trail.
A hackberry is a kind of an elm. They require a bit more water than trees like junipers, so they are only found near the heads of canyons, where there are good water seeps. Finding a bunch of hackberries means there may be ruins nearby, since such water seeps marked good locations for the Ancestral Puebloans to live.
I was back to my car by around noon, and back to my campsite not too long after that (though I did a bit of driving around to get a feel for what was in the area). Later in the day there was a program at the Park Visitor Center, but I’ll save that for my next “Out West” post.