Monday, July 26, 2010

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument - Part 2

From Lowry Pueblo we moved on to Sand Canyon Pueblo.  This was our favorite one of the day - though many people would think we're nuts.  You see, most of the ruins that people get to see these days are cleaned up, sometimes restored, and generally in good shape. You can see the outlines of rooms and kivas, and can easily imagine people living in them many centuries ago. But Sand Canyon Pueblo is different.  It was excavated in the 1980s - the crew exposed about 1/4 of it - and then covered everything back up after carefully mapping and documenting it all. So when you walk around it, you have to really use your imagination to picture how it used to be.  We enjoyed that very much.

The pueblo was built at the head of Sand Canyon - a south-facing canyon with a stream that flows into McElmo Creek, a tributary of the San Juan River. It's a U-shaped pueblo with 14 towers and many buildings and rooms, situated around a small spring.

This is looking down the center dry streambed towards the location of the spring. It's marked by the stand of 6-7 aspen trees - the only aspen in the whole area.

This is part of the outer wall that ran all along the northern edges of the pueblo.
The trail that runs along the western edge ends at a cliff top. This is looking back across the canyon to the east and the other side of the pueblo.
Yours truly - and if I backed up 3 feet I'd fall over a hundred feet.
Looking south down Sand Canyon
Remnants of buildings
The edges of an old kiva

Now we're standing up on the eastern edge, looking back down at the western edge where I had my photo taken.
Don up  on the eastern edge looking down the canyon.

We were blessed by mostly cloudy conditions which kept the temperature fairly cool.  As we left to go back to Priest Gulch, we could see the thunderclouds building up to the north. By the time we got about halfway upriver, it was raining hard.  When we pulled into the campground, the river was running red again. We'd heard yesterday that it was not due to flooding in feeder streams, but a landslide that washed the red dirt into the river. 

Dinner was soft tacos - I had a craving for Mexican food - and we're relaxing watching two of our favorite shows - "The Closer" and "Rizzoli and Iles."  I feel pretty good - we must have walked 3 miles today - which doesn't seem like a lot, but it's a lot more than we'd walked recently. 


Rick said...

Thanks for posting all the great pics over the last 2 days. It brought back some great memories as I visited the Hovenweep National Monument this past April. You guys seem to have gotten a much more detailed look at these sights than I did as I didn't have a whole lot of time. So, it was great to be able to see, and read, what I had missed.

I'm looking forward to reading about your next adventure!

Merikay said...

That's why I've been trying to walk a couple of miles a day on my treadmill. Lately the numbers haven't increased because I've been working on other things, but in winter I expect to put more time in.

ThE MidLiFe CrUiSeR said...

I'm with you. I'd rather see the ruins before they gussy them up. I imagine you'd feel the history and the feeling of the place more. Nothing worse to me than a touristy village where they have a gift shop near the exit. I like how you described the ruins as well. Very well written. Thanks for taking us all along!