Joan and I spent a weekend at an isolated car camping spot and based ourselves out of it for the weekend.
If we hiked and roamed canyons on a previous weekend, we walked along rim-top and nearby places to see areas towards the latter years of the Ancestral Pueblo settlements in this location.
Our camping spot gave us access to obvious paths that seemed logical to me. And to people centuries ago.
And our campsite also lets us access the desert flowers blooming and bringing some vibrant, if brief, color to the desert landscape.
We descended slightly to the layers that contained structures below the canyon rim. Removed from the flowing water and crops, the structures required scrambling and going through natural choke points to reach.
Even for some like myself, that are strictly ardent amateurs, the structures seemed to indicate defensive construction. And a more volatile time.
All the climbs involve getting to a place approached with complete visibility for whoever made their home above.
The stone doors, of sorts, almost look as if placed there yesterday.
We found a noticeable break in the canyon rim through another chokepoint not far from a structure—a place to climb up and make a loop from where we started earlier in the day. Perhaps Pueblo people used the same chokepoint generations previously?
From the rim, we spotted a cliff-side structure overlooking the canyon below.
In 2022, an all-encompassing view at the end of a day of hiking. In 1250 or so? A similar view but perhaps for different purposes.
On our last day, we looked at a map, had a hunch, and hiked to a structure reminiscent of the well-known “The Citadel” overlooking the canyon below.
And potential climbs and chokepoints were all defended by walls.
The sites sat at the end of a narrow peninsula—visually striking and thought-provoking, considering when and possibly why the Ancestral Pueblo constructed these structures versus the earlier ones on the canyon bottoms.
There are many theories why the Ancestral Pueblo people moved elsewhere. Ideas get put forth by people who know more about this topic than I do.
What do I think I know? Drought, food shortages, evidence of violent conflict, and the changing location and style of the structures all indicate a time of instability.
And centuries later, we can walk these testaments to the delicate nature of the high desert. And the patterns seem to repeat themselves generations later.