Horseshoe Bend (Glen Cyn NRA) and Hanging Gardens (Glen Cyn NRA)

10/12/17 Thursday in Page, AZ

We hiked the ¾ mile trail to Horseshoe Bend this morning, but the shadows on the left were so deep that it looked black there.

We went on to hike to Hanging Gardens, where there are lovely ferns flourishing in the seeping water under their cliff.  This hike takes off from Hwy 98/89, just east of Glen Canyon dam.  Look for a hiking icon sign – it won’t say Hanging Gardens there.  You’ll see a more complete sign in the parking area.

Hanging Gardens

In the afternoon, at 2:45pm we again hiked the trail to Horseshoe Bend. SO much better for lighting then. John figures it would be best in the summer, like June.  Also, as you approach the cliff, head for the right end – that’s where you’ll get better photos of the whole river.

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This shot was taken using a “creative” filter that gave the scene saturated color.

Good day, with rest in between hikes.

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Vermilion Cliffs NM, Lee’s Ferry (Glen Cyn NRA), Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District and Navajo Bridge

10/11/17 Wednesday in Page, AZ

On our way to Lee’s Ferry NM, we (John and I plus Nancy and Greg, RV friends staying in Page while we are) saw the Vermilion Cliffs, as well as some cool “balancing rocks”.

Lee’s Ferry is the one place you can enter the Colorado River safely to travel by boat or raft in the Grand Canyon. All river trips begin here.

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There is no ferry here now, everyone just drives to this side of the river. This was originally built by a Mormon, Lee, who was wanted for killing a group of settlers (not Mormon) who he feared would harass/kill his family. So this must have seemed like a pretty out of the way place to escape detection. Eventually he did get captured and executed, but his wife pretty much ran the place even before then. As time went on, others used this place.

American Placer Corporation (gold) had their office here.

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Fort Lee. Because of concern for attacks here, Brigham Young ordered that a fort be set up here. Nancy is waving to us from this Fort. Note the Vermilion Cliffs behind it.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

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Scenes of the Colorado River as we hiked to where a cable was set to hold the ferry and pull it back against the current.

Next we hiked to Lonely Dell Ranch. Another couple lived here after the Lees. They had to be self sufficient, using water from the nearby Paria River to grow their food. In 1965 an orchard was planted that NPS still maintains.

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Can you tell who’s standing by the pole?

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Lonely Dell dugout (root cellar)

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Weaver Ranch House. They had a Hopi stone mason build this lodge to house those coming to travel on the ferry or visit the area. Unfortunately this was during the Depression, so they didn’t make any money and had to leave.

Navajo Bridge, built 1927-1928, over the Colorado River (this is when the ferry ended). The original bridge is now only for pedestrians, the other is for vehicles.

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Next stop: John and I to our motel, Nancy/Gary to their RV to rest up.

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John Wesley Powell Museum and Antelope Canyon – Canyon X

10/10/17 Tuesday in Page, AZ

John Wesley Powell Museum

Not only is this a Museum about John Wesley Powell, it includes artifacts and information on the geology of the area, the Navajo and their ancestors, dinosaurs and more. Plus it’s a great Visitor Center where we learned many tips. We recommend you visit here if you are in Page.

John Wesley Powell was a Civil War hero (he lost his right arm in this war), a scientist (eventually he suggested the creation of and became the first head of the US Geological Society) and an explorer. He was the first through the gorges of the Green and Colorado Rivers, 1,100 miles by rowboat. This was from May 24 to August 30 of 1869. Here I’m whining about my trigger thumb while he managed all this with one arm.

Navajo weaving – when the Spanish came they introduced horses and domestic animals like goats and sheep, from which the Navajo made clothes. Before then they wove yucca and sumac leaves to form baskets.

POW 01

(The yellow color is from the lighting-it’s actually white) Basket – The center represents “sipapu” – the belly button, the center from which “The People” came. The white beyond that represents “The People”. The black triangles (bottom) represent darkness, struggle/clouds. The red is for marriage/rainbow, the mixing of the blood of husband and wife, the creation of family. The top black triangles represent the mountains. Note the pathway to light, from center to outer rim.

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Weaving – I was amazed at the complexity of this dress.

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Dinosaur tracks. A fascinating fact – 26% of the known dinosaurs weighed less than 220 lbs. Only 14% were gigantic. Most tracks found in this area are one inch to over 20 inches.

Here we got our tickets for a guided tour of Antelope Canyon, Canyon X, paying $3/person at Powell Museum, then $35/person in cash at the site. The name “X” comes from what you see when you fly over this slot canyon – an X.  I recommend this one because you really get more individual attention. We understand at Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons there are large crowds of people that get herded through, so you don’t have nearly as many chances for photographs. Luckily, John could take photos with our big camera while I took them with my phone. Unfortunately I can’t download my phone pics because I don’t have the right cord. It was a great experience, from the fun sand trip to the canyon, to the “dune buggy” trip down into the canyon, to our sweet, informative, very helpful guide. Besides showing us better settings for our cameras, she showed us favorite views of the Navajo Sandstone that form these slot/narrow canyons. By the way, a huge flash flood 3 years ago stripped sand from the lower 3 feet of these sandstone columns/towers, even revealing an arch.

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Four Corners Monument and Navajo National Monument

10/09/17 Monday traveling to Page, AZ

Four Corners Monument

The only place in the US where you can stand in four states at once: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. It’s actually in thenNavajo Nation, just off Hwy 160. There is a fee of $5/person.


Navajo National Monument

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They have 2 well done tapes on the Ancient Puebloans (Anasazi in Navajo) and one on Navajo basketmaking. There are fun bits of history behind the Visitor Center:


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Sweat house: note how small it is. This was not only a way to feel relaxed, it was also a way to bath in an area with little water.

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Hogan: it’s called forked stick because its support is by 3 poles with their forked ends interlocked at the top. Even today you’ll see modern versions of this, used for curing ceremonies.

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Dinosaur footprints

They have 3 large cliff dwellings, but only “Betatakin” (Bay TAH tah kin) can be seen from an overlook. There are guided tours to Betatakin only once a day and another (Keet Seel) is closed until May 2018. “Inscription House” is not open to the public.

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Colorado Welcome Center, Anasazi Heritage Center and Hovenweep National Monument

10/07/17 Saturday in Cortez, CO

Colorado Welcome Center

After reviewing information on Yucca House NM, Canyons of the Ancients NM and Hovenweep NM, we realized it would be smart to get complete information (and Passport stamps) and the Colorado Welcome Center. So glad we did. Because the Yucca House NM is very difficult to find and has only a piece of a wall excavated at this point, it wasn’t worth going to see, yet I could get my Passport stamp here at the Welcome Center. We also learned that the Canyons of the Ancients NM is administered by the BLM, on which land it stands. Thus that Visitor Center is actually in the Anasazi Heritage Center which is about 9 miles from Cortez, in Dolores, CO. We also got maps at the Welcome Center helping us find out way to Hovenweep and a couple sites in Canyons if we wanted to see them. Since you need a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle to get to those we decided it wasn’t worth it.

Anasazi Heritage Center

Beautiful artifacts to enjoy and explanations of the Puebloan cultures.

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The blanket on the left is made of rabbit fur, the one on the right is made of turkey feathers!

Hovenweep National Monument

The Visitor Center is at the campground here. Small, no fee. Lovely 2 mile loop trail goes around Little Ruin Canyon. At one end the canyon ends so you are walking on mesa around it, at the other end you get to descend into that canyon and ascend out of it. Great little hike, with lots of dwellings from the Chaco culture, I believe.

Right off the bat you see a number of the sites you’ll come across on your hike:

HO 01

Stronghold House

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Stronghold House from the other side (of the canyon).

HO 02

Twin Towers

HO 03

Rim Rock House

HO 04

Eroded Boulder House

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Tower Point

More that we saw along the rail:  Hovenweep Castle

HO 09

Square Tower

It took an hour to drive to Hovenweep from Anasazi Heritage Center. Our hike took just over an hour and our drive home in Cortez was another hour. Still worth the trip. We even saw feral? horses along the road back.

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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.

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

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

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Long House

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Long House

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Long House

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A wall made of mortar and twigs

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WM 10

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

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

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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.

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Mesa Verde National Park on the Chapin Mesa

10/05/17 Thursday in Cortez, CO

MV 01

At the Visitor Center is a beautiful sculpture of a Pueblo Indian climbing.

TIP: to get into the best Pueblo dwellings you need to purchase tickets. They sell out fast. You can buy them ($5/person) at the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez (also you can get your Passport stamp for Mesa Verde and Yucca House National Monument there) or the Park’s Visitor Center. Because we got them later, at the Visitor Center, we got one for Balcony House at noon and another for Long House at 12:30 the next day.

There are 2 mesas that are available in this park; Balcony House is on Chapin Mesa, along with the majority of other things to see. Long House is on Wetherill Mesa with a few other things to see.

Here is a compilation of the sites we enjoyed as we drove to Balcony House:

Far View community-built long before the cliff dwellings

MV 02

Kiva at Coyote Village-these were gathering areas for the village in Chaco culture (before Mesa Verde), for families/clans in Mesa Verde culture.

MV 03

Bird – some sort of sparrow?

Cliff Palace

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Cliff Palace – being restored at this time, no accessibility for tourists

Balcony House

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Trail climbing down into the canyon.

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Trail climbing up into Balcony House.

MV 06a

Trail climbing up after visiting the dwelling. After climbing the tall ladder below, we stepped into toe holes first created by the Puebloans, then made a bit larger for us clumsy tourists. The toe hole section was bordered by the chain with fencing, which I happily clung to as I climbed.

MV 07

Balcony House

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Balcony House

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Balcony House-Seep spring, where water seeps from granite into these cliff areas below the soft sandstone. Thus a big reason (sure water source) to live in these cliffs.

MV 12

These 2 structures (left/right) were built at different times. The left was first. See how the right joined the wall of the left. Also, they used less wood for the second floor in the right – because there were fewer trees available by that time.

MV 13

Our route to access the other side – ladder and toe holds up. This side was for living quarters

MV 14

This other side was for food preparation and gatherings in the kivas.

MV 15

Where the women would grind corn into cornmeal.

MV 16

Kiva – keyhole style (not simple circle). These are distinctive to the Mesa Verde culture.  The small wall is to deflect the fresh air coming in from a hole at the top.  The circle in the middle is for their fires.  There were wood roofs to these kivas as well.  They just didn’t last as long as these stones.

MV 17

House of Many Windows

MV 18

Hemenway House

MV 19

View from Soda Canyon Trail

MV 20

Square Tower House

MV 21

A variety of cliff dwellings were visible from Sun Point View, this is one of them.

MV 22

Spruce House.  Closed to tourists due to unsafe rock.

Then, very tired, we just plain drove home (Cortez). Big day!

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