Chaco Culture National Historic Park
Chaco Culture National Historic Park Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
June 9th, 2008 – by: aerynn
For the first time, I saw jack rabbits, and also ground hogs or prairie dogs...not sure which. Mom spotted an animal butt up ahead. It turned around enough for me to notice it was a badger! As in, Mr. Badger from Wind In the Willows? Amazing. I had no idea a badger's environment was a desert.
Sometimes I wonder if travel is as much of a healthy distraction from my mind as writing music is therapy for it. With so much new input, how can one dwell on the subjects that lead to writing music?
In any case, we arrived at Chaco Culture National Historic Monument just before a scheduled free tour was to be taking place at Pueblo Bonito, the largest pueblo that has been excavated in the canyon.
We had just enough time to stop at Fajada Butte Overlook, which has astronomical significance in Chacoan Culture. At the top of the butte, which is not accessible for visitors, there is a spiral petroglyph which gets pierced by a 'sun dagger', a glint of sunlight. The location of the dagger on the petroglyph varies throughout the year.
Our tour guide at Pueblo Bonito was a volunteer who had a lot more info to share than time to share it during our brief two hour tour. Her sense of humor made for a fun experience learning about blunders of archaeologists throughout the history of excavation in Chaco Canyon, and also about how much we really don't understand about the Chacoan people. This Chacoan great house has sections that date to some of the earliest construction in Chaco Canyon, which were built starting in A.D. 850, and also some of the latest construction, finishing around A.D. 1150.
After our tour, we walked to the nearby Chetro Ketl ruins, by way of a trail along the base of the cliff featuring petroglyphs.
I absolutely love photographing, touching, and viewing ruins; imagining them filled with people who have lives and relationships. Who doesn't? What could be better than withstanding 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures in the desert all day to hopefully get that one amazing money shot?
The highlight of my day was the hike to the Pueblo Bonito Overlook, which was on top of one of the canyon walls. We began this little adventure by picnicing with some chipmunks or other such similar creatures by Pueblo del Arroyo.
We soon discovered our assumptions were wrong - that *was* a trail. And not just any trail, but *the* trail we were in fact heading toward. This brings me to the highlight of this hike, and thus the whole day. I will mention the views later, which were indeed grand, but watching my 60 year old mom climb the canyon wall with me, sans ropes or climbing gear, and overcoming her fear of heights or failure or lack of strength was beyond any other satisfaction I may have experienced at Chaco.
I repeatedly told her during the climb that we could turn back at anytime; that our safety was much more important than the view or the photo that I might take with me; that my heart was not set on this little hike. But she persisted. I tried not to think about how we would get back down. I hope I am that adventurous at age 60. What a blessing. My mom rocks. It has been amazing watching her adjust to retirement and simultaneously embrace some independence.
The views from the top were spectacular; not just of the ruins below, but of the whole canyon and beyond. I geeked out with the camera for awhile, and mom even took a few pictures of me posing with the landscape.
Climbing back down was easier than the catastrophe I had feared.
For more information on Chaco Canyon, please check out the following website.
All text and photographs copyright 2008 Erin Brassfield.
All photos taken on 35mm Canon RebelG SLR
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