On May 11th Mike the photo guy, Dave my back up man and I decided it would be a great idea to spend the night at the big water fall. I had a chapter on the big water fall but it was the most impressive area. It had a pond called by the cowboys "Cowboy springs", what else? Under the giant mesa we called TAS (a good place to take a toilet break), was some of the most impressive villages, rock homes, and pottery. The journey to the falls is a 1,000 climb in elevation across stretches of shells and fossils. On the way up you reach an area of petroglyphs. Obviously every human who has found this area loved it and used its rich resources as a bridle vale fall. Dave in full pack gives you an idea of how ready we would be for the night. He took a 30-06 as I knew there was a large cat living in the gulley of the falls. This is were we would spend the night.
On our trip we saw the signs of not a cat but a bear. The print is fresh with others around as well. Scat was available also. Yep! thats a bear.
oN 9-21-02 We got this print.
The burros were curious as to why we were out and about in this no mans land so late in the day.
flowers were rare this year as we are in a 30 year drought and the worse 7 years of it.
Almost all of our trips start at the old Collier Ranch house. This had been a wet area of three rivers flowing into the cuervo below. This is the most civilized spot on the south end of the King Ranch. You can see where the old building use to be. The fire place and the rectangle footing is still there. These were made of cut rocks about 200 lbs each.
The problem is who ever buit it in the 1800's did not account for the imense amount of water in this area. As you can see the cliff about the old building droped earth down in the form of a mud slide and wiped out all but the chimney and some of those large foundation blocks. The interior is filled with mud from the cliff above. It is hard to imagine that much water in this area. Currently it is dry as a bone. In the early 1900's the rocks from the old building were moved further up away from the cliff and made into a building. In the 1920's Collier added on to the old rock building with the modern one that you see. What an undertaking this must have been just to get all the materials here. In back of the new metal roofed building are two very large water tanks that catch the run off from the roof. There has been no run off in years.
We decided to run over to the west side of mesa prietta and grab a quick photo of the view here. As you can see there is forever to look at. The left part of the picture is the land of the Laguna reservation. The right and center of the picture are lands that are owned by private ranchers. Once again the area is barren and wanting for real rain. That gourge you see in the forground is the Rio Puerco.
We could see that there had been an obvious water shed from the run off of Prietta. All the down slop of water seemed to come through this one small area of rocks. Someone had build a series of walls and small doors at the base of the run off. This was crazy as the buildings would be washed away as they showed evidence of.
I figured out that this had not been a settlement or village and the doors were gates or locks. It would seem that early residents of the area had built a series of step flood irrigation levels. They had put up rock wall and most likley filled the containers with top soils. They had designed gates to allow the overflow from one step to fill into the next and so one. This would allow each area to be irrigated naturaly and these would be ideal for growing and planting. It looks as though it has been many hundreds of years since there was any soil in the containers. all of this is based on my idea being correct. We don't really know. If you have a theory email us.
Back to the base of the water fall. This picture is taken at a level about half the way up to the top. The water fall has a great basin at this level and would normaly be filled with water as a great pond at the bottom. Years ago I use to trough rocks from the top into the water below. There has been no water since.
As you can see we set up a camp. Mike brought a complete bed with pad. Dave a fat bed roll. And I a sleeping bag.
We urinated at the opening of the gulley leading to the area we were using. This was to keep the cat that I knew lived further up from comming down to where we were camping at the lip of the fall.
All of this journey was to sit and take in the view. This is the picture that says it best. The night sky was so bright that you could not make out any constallations because there were just too many stars and too bright. At 3am I left the camp and climbed up the gulley to the water shed on top Prietta to watch the sun come up. On the way back to camp I found that a bear not a cat had camped just about a mile up the gulley from our camp. It would seem that we had displaced him from his normal area where we were camping. So tonight he not us sleeps beneath that star filled sky shinning like a bowl of silver marbles above.
On the second visit about 2am I awoke as the fire just went out. I strayed about 50 feet from the camp to gather some wood when I hear the growl of a large cat. I could see its silloquet just above us near the ridge of the hill. He seamed to be moving slowly toward our camp and the warter in the setlement areas of the water fall. I came back to the camp and woke Dave. I told him there was a large cat trying to make its way to the water. I said we should climb the north side of the water fall gully and position ourselves on a large rock with a clear view of the water and the south face. In this way the cat would make its way down when the fire went out and we will see it from a safe area. Should it attack us we were in good high position. There Dave and I sat waitting for the fire to go out with the cat making throaty noises. Just as the fire expired the cat made a large growl and started his move to the camp. I was real prould of my plan until we hear the second cat behind us growl. I got the fire going again real fast and we kept it at a high level until sun up. I was telling one of the cowboys about this incident and he interupted me and said, "You know they run in pairs?"
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THE AMMONITES WE FIND
COMING SOON THE ANIMALS, SCENERY, POTTERY, FOSSILS...
copyright 2000/2001/2002 Chuck Dawson Corrales NM
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