Mesa Verde National Park on the Wetherill Mesa

10/06/17 Friday in Cortez, CO

WM 01

Ah, such a beautiful view at 9:30 in the morning, on the Wetherill Mesa Road.

WM 02

Even a feral horse (escaped livestock) was eating along the road.

WM 03

We hiked a trail to Step House as we waited for our tour to start, spotting a baby tarantula just before we got there.

WM 04

Pithouse. A great replica of the early houses used when earlier Puebloans lived on top of the mesa, where they farmed.

WM 05

Long House

WM 06a

Long House

WM 07

Long House

WM 08

A wall made of mortar and twigs

WM 09


WM 10

Holes dug in the floor to hold extra seep water. Note the line they carve to direct the water to these holes.

WM 11

Handprint Pictograph. We’ve rarely seen these where they are painted images.

WM 12

Pieces of wood stuck into the cracks in the ceiling. Maybe set there as rock fall warnings.

WM 13

Key shaped window – first seen in these cliff dwellings.  Note the indentation by bricks at the bottom.

WM 14

“No 15” – carved by Gustaf Nordensiold – a Swedish explorer who was first to map and excavate the cliff dwellings with great precision. He marked this one (Long House) as No 15. He was able to gather a great many artifacts before someone “fingered” him to the authorities. Unfortunately, there were no laws protecting these antiquities, so he was able to return to his homeland with all his findings. This is what inspired the “Antiquity Act” signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is by this act that Presidents have the authority to name certain places as National Monuments, thereby protecting them from profiteers. Today Nordensiold’s artifacts etc. are on display in Helsinki, well cared for and available for research.

WM 15

“W” – carved by the Wetherill Brothers who first discovered Cliff Palace and other cliff dwellings, probably with help from their Ute friends.

Once our tour was over, while still in the Long House, our Ranger excused us.  We then headed up the long, steep trail to our car.  Then, once again, two very tired people headed for home in Cortez.  I’m ready to rest tomorrow but John is determined to see Hovenweep.

About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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