Friday, October 14, 2016

Another Hiking Day In Mesa Verde National Park!

After a good breakfast we finished packing our lunch for today's adventures! We did some necessary things like pay bills, check statements, write postcards, etc. before we left the CG and began the drive in the National Park.

This was the view from Waldo early this morning!  The butte
is in the National Park!

This Park is different from many we have visited because the Visitor's Center is before the entrance to the Park and you have to drive about 20 plus miles into the Park to get to the trail heads to see the cliff dwellings.  So, we drove 25 miles on many switchbacks and gained a lot of elevation.  

At the trail head for the Long House Tour about 30 of us "hit" the trail with our very interesting and knowledgeable Ranger Guide, Byron.  He also was able to give you food for thought with his questions and insights into human behavior. He also was good at including some Life Lessons.  We really appreciated Byron. 

Byron is 32 and has been working here at Mesa Verde NP for
8 years.  He speaks very "deliberately" and "intentionally".
He talked about how you never know what you can accomplish
or how things in your life can change and paralleled that
to why these folks may have come to this area or why
they left it after 100 years.  He shared that at age 9 he was going
 through many surgeries and years of speech therapy because
 of a cleft palate and never imagined he would have a job where
 he would speak to large groups of people!

The 2 hour tour to the Long House involves hiking about 2.25 miles round-trip and climbing two 15 foot ladders within the site.  Elevation gain is about 130 feet.  In this elevation it can definitely get you "huffing".  Again, these cliff dwellings were amazing.  There were 150 rooms and 21 kivas and the view is fantastic. 

Our 1st view of Long House!

Those are storage areas on a higher rock shelf.  It would
be so hard to get things up there - needed a ladder!

....and we got to climb more ladders today!

Byron is explaining about the seep springs.  Water seeps
through the rocks and the natives bore holes in the rocks so the
water would flow to the holes for drinking.

They build their "homes" under large rock alcoves so they
were protected from the elements!

What a view from the alcoves!

A hand print on the wall - 

These dwellings covered a very large area!

There were 21 kivas in this "village" probably used for sacred
ceremonies and for keeping warm in the winter.  At that time
they had roofs!

I found the building in the corner fascinating! 
This is 2 of the 151 rooms and one of them was the
living quarters for a family - 6 x 8

I find this whole thing fascinating!

Tomorrow is the last tour of the Long House for this season, so we felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to see it!  Just a few facts about Mesa Verde National Park.  It opened in 1906 and since then they have had numerous major fires.  Next to one location in Florida, this Park has more lightning strikes than any other place in the US.  Since 1990 over 50% of the Park has been burned. Since opening, it is about 70%.  Wow!  But, Mesa Verde NP has 52,485 acres so there is still a lot of beautiful areas.  Last year they had 547,000 visitors!

We got back to the car around 2:15 and we were ready for lunch.  We met up with a couple from Wisconsin that we had talked with yesterday when we finished that tour.  So we sat together to eat our picnic lunches and had a nice visit.  He works for Cargill Foods, the company that bought Wilbur Chocolate in the town where we live.  Small world!!!

Ken and I decided to take another hike from that area, the Spruce Tree Trail, that you can do on your own but a Ranger is stationed at the cliff dwellings when you get there.  It was a 1 mile hike round trip.  This "community" was smaller than the others we had seen, but still interesting.  I still am amazed that tourists are allowed to walk through the cliff dwellings as long as a Ranger is with the group.

This is what  a pit house looked like when it was built around 700 A.D. ,
The partial walls and ceiling were reconstructed so we could
see what it actually looked like. 
The charred wood in base if this pit house  is 1300 years old.

More ladders to climb!

This kiva was very large and deep!

We only got back to Waldo around 5:45 after the long drive back through the park.  Ken went to Celebrate Recovery at a church about 3 miles from the CG and I downloaded photos and worked on the blog.

It has been another adventuresome and interesting day.  Tomorrow we plan to drive to the 4 Corners about 55 miles from the CG and tour that area! 

PS: Today was our last time to visit the cliff dwellings, so no more of those pictures!  I bet you are glad!


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