August 30, 2016 was a rest day, a hang-out day, for me. I deliberately inserted a number of these into my schedule. What I ended up doing that day was heading to the Anasazi Heritage Center about 30 miles east (as the raven flies) of Hovenweep just outside the town of Dolores.
There is a nice museum there and I arrived just as one of the local experts was starting a tour.
The word “Anasazi” generally isn’t the preferred term for the Ancestral Puebloans any more. That was the name given by the Navajo (rather recent immigrants—early-1400s-ish— from the far Northwest) to the Puebloans and it means “ancient enemies” (though other sources say “ancient ones”). But I guess this museum was named before that preference took hold.
Somehow my picture-taking here was rather limited. I do always like checking out their illustrations depicting the Puebloans, just to see how barefoot they make them. Here’s one of their panels.
There are a lot of bare feet there, which ought not be surprising. If I can hike the area barefoot, why would they go through the trouble involved in not doing so themselves, particularly around their pueblos? There are some sandals (on the two men carrying the deer). That makes sense, too. When hunting, you don’t want to be looking where you are stepping—you want to watch your prey (on the other foot, sneaking up on prey is much quieter barefoot).
Here’s part of another panel that also shows a mix with (mostly) bare feet and one set of sandals.
You can also see the flock of turkeys, which were domesticated by the Puebloans.
There is one thing that cracks me up about these illustrations, though. Somehow, the unbraided pigtails (also called “bunches”) just manage to always hang perfectly to cover the women’s otherwise naked breasts. Perish the thought that uptight Americans might realize that other cultures weren’t so hung up on breasts, and perish the thought that those same Americans might see a drawing of a naked female breast.
In the museum artifacts, I was also interested to see footprints depicted on pottery.
(To clarify, I was interested in all the artifacts there, including the looms and the sandals and the other pottery, etc.. Just not enough to take a picture of them, I guess.)
On my way back I also stopped at the Lowry Pueblo, which you can see is located here.
Here’s a picture from inside one of the internal kivas there.
The logs across the alcove looked well-preserved and provided shelf space. You might also notice the metalwork roof and an I-beam pillar. Lowry Pueblo is largely roofed-over. That clearly protects it from the weather (mainly water) that would make the masonry fail.
After exiting, I saw another fence lizard.
The next day, August 31, 2016 was my last full day Out West. I had been on the road for 3½ weeks and was getting a bit tired of camping and of being away. On top of that, Labor Day weekend was coming right up and I did not want to try to drive home through that (one of my neuroses, as my family can attest to).
On the other hand, I had one more big hike I wanted to do, and I was also feeling pretty bad about not having explored that cave I’d seen on my way to Cutthroat Castle.
So I did two hikes on the 31st, and I’ll fill out this blog entry with my return to the cave. This was my first hike of the day and it only ended up taking about an hour out and back, with a fair bit of exploring the cave in the middle. I parked right at the start of the light blue path from my previous trip.
Here’s a chance for you to see what driving along that BLM road is like. It’s just a single lane, and there are rocky spots that really do require some sort of high-clearance vehicle.
In the video you can see me wandering back and forth as I try to pick the best part of the road. I also have to admit that there were a few times I stopped and got out of my car halfway over a rocky ledge just to check my clearance.
After I parked, it only took about 15 minutes of hiking to get back to where the cave was, since I now knew and was comfortable with the direct route. Here’s the cave again, up the canyon wall.
[Click! This one is wide, 1400×600.]
As I climbed up to it, the rubble in front became much more obvious.
Looking from the left, there’s a bit of a view of the entrance to the recess cave, some rubble, and a bit of wall over to the right.
Here’s a closer look at the rubble and wall.
I am way too ignorant to properly know whether these are ancient Puebloan ruins or whether it is of more recent vintage (cowboy?). But regardless, I still find it pretty interesting and love the way the rock overhangs are formed.
The back of the cave actually led all the way to the top.
If I weighed about 30 pounds less (and was 10 years old) I might have considered trying to fit through that crack. But I had no desire to hurt either myself or the crack.
There was without a doubt a great view from the cave. It was well-worth the extra trip and the climb.
Here’s a look back at the basin I walked through to get to the cave.
Notice that it really looks like a self-contained basin with no drainage. The (dry) stream comes from the left (north) and then does . . . what?
Let’s look at a color-coded topo relief map. The location of the cave is that black dot in the upper left and we are looking towards the bottom right (south-south-east).
Well, I knew what was going on (and you should, too, if you read my previous blog entry). There the stream does that big, tight curve at the south end of it. And that’s where I’d come through 2 days previously. In this long-distance zoomed shot you can see how the stream bed curves around to the left and disappears.
And here’s a shot that is zoomed even further.
There something else I want to point out in that picture of the basin. Take a look along the horizon, a bit to the right of the middle. See something?
How about if I super-zoom it?
I’m facing about 10° east of south. And the thing that’s off in that direction, 52 miles away, is Shiprock, near Shiprock, NM in the northwest part of New Mexico. I’d have a more iconic view if I were about 45° counterclockwise from where I was standing, but one takes what one can get. I think it pretty amazing to see it that far away.
I’m going to finish with a picture I did a bit of post-processing on.
Since I was in a dark cave shooting the picture out into bright sunlight, I had to process the different portions separately, using a special mask so I could lighten the part in the cave and darken the outside. You can see a few artifacts in the photo from that, but I still love the picture.
And in case you’re curious, the Sleeping Ute is 15 miles away.