In the footsteps of the Anastazi / Anasazi

                 "Scenes from the Rio Cuervo in New Mexico"


Mike, Tom and I stocked up the Hummer and were early off for a day of discovery. I had a plan to visit one of those areas that were difficult to get to because it had a deep large gorge that runs for a mile or more that separates the road from the interesting canyons and butte's to the west and then Preita mesa. As we entered the area there was a truck coming out with two gentlemen who I felt I may have met before but were uncomfortable with. Our first concern was the roads and how wet they were as we have had a lot of rain this month. When crossing over the first of the badlands and the low lands we entered the arroyo and noticed that there were fresh tire tracks up the arroyo. I stopped the Hummer and remarked that the distant white rock formations and foot hills had taken on an new bright dominance up the arroyo and we should go inspect them. We had not been to them in several years. We followed the tire tracks noting at one point they left the arroyo bottom and veered off to the trees on the south side. That's when Mike shouted "A Cat". There in the low branches of a pinion tree was a beautiful Lynx or bobcat. It was about 50 feet from where we stopped the truck and was not moving.

I asked Tom if he could get a picture and he asked me to take it. I instead pulled the Hummer closer and the cat did not run away. It was then that Mike noticed that the cat was pulling at his front paw which was in a trap.

The cat attacks 2.2 mbyte

Sure enough the Coyote trappers had been here and set a trap not long ago. These were the tire tracks that we had noticed and most likely the men in the truck. At first it seemed that we could be of help. This magnificent creature was struggling between two limbs of the tree and had nearly ripped it's foot off and was in great distress. The trap was on a chain wrapped 4 times around a limb with an anchor or grappling hook on it's end. I ask the question "What tools do we have that can help us free the cat?" Mike said we need a bag. I carry a large snake bag and blanket. Mike said let's put the blanket over the cat and free it. This all sounds good until you are about three feet from the cat crouched in between the branches of the tree with a cat with 2 inch fangs and 1 inch claws jumping and attempting to attack if you come closer. Because of the branches it seemed impossible to get a blanket over the cat. Mike took the blanket and said he was willing to take some scratches to attempt it. I ask Tom for a knife so that if I did get close enough I could cut his foot off if the blanket did not work. This was all for nothing. There was no way the cat was going to let us near without attacking us. It also was bigger than I thought. When it took its attack position and growled at you ready to attack I stopped Mike and said this cat will change your life in the first couple of seconds. There is no way we get near it without an attack. The trap was firm and would take two hands on a solid base to open it. Not with a fighting cat at the end of it. I could not even imagine a way to cut off the rest of its foot and release it.

I could see that this would be my first bad day at the ranch. In all my years of ranch experience I have only killed a rattler that struck at me and have regretted it ever since. In that case I now know that it was my fear that caused me to shoot it and would have had other options had I more experience on the ranch and with the snakes. But now I could see no options. Coyotes would get it tonight or tomorrow. It could starve to death or worse yet chew its leg off and die attempting to survive. I took out my gun and ask if there were any other options. Leaving this beautiful creature bleeding, maimed and to be torn apart by predators was greater than my aversion to killing it. God I hate Killing. So I ask Mike, Head or heart, he said head. And then it was over.

I told Mike and Tom that I did not feel like checking out the white rocks at this time and we started out of the arroyo. Secretly I knew we would find more traps and snares. Traps and snares, the reality of the ranch. Because of the rains there are large numbers of rabbits. This has created a greater number of coyotes. The ranchers love the cows and need them for their lively hood. So! The coyote hunters come and put down the traps and snares. On the way out of the arroyo Tom commented that his daughter Catherine had mentioned to him that "I have never been in a place besides New Mexico where the food chain is so visibly demonstrated". It was true! But god I loved that Cat!
We began our search of an area that we had never been to but had passed several times without exploration. The reason we had never taken the time to search this 5 mile strip running north and south was there is a giant gorge that stops the vehicle from getting close. For this reason it would take a determined effort and a lot of hiking to get the area and all of its meadows and canyons checked out. On the plateaus of the south facing wall of a mesa we found what appeared to be ancient circular foundations with door ways facing south.

Using the dating rule of thumb we looked for anasazi pottery and found some.

This finding would at least date the rings back at least a thousand years or more. The problem is that they could have been older and used by the ancient ones and or had continuos use during pueblo or later times with rebuilds. There were six in all about 10' in diameter. Some had only a surface of rocks with no wall left just marking the foundations. Some had walls and foundations. The last had a doorway with vertical foundation rocks. I have the other five in the order we found them from east to west.

We need help on this. They were on an east west line zig zaged all facing south at a level half way up the canyon or mesa wall on slight plateaus. Please email Us if you have an idea of their use, age or origin. Direct your email to: and put "form sub: anasazi" in the subject line. If you do not use this subject the email will not reach me. We are anxious for your input.

ONE WEEK LATER Well Linde and I retured to investigate the circles and discovered 5 more with better defined walls. They like the others were placed in the plataues of the canyon walls spaced about 200 feet apart and staggared up and down a line of about 50 feet. This would give us about 11 known sites on a horizonal line plus or minus 25 feet from east to west along the canyon middle. Many of the circle buildings seemed to have been rebuilt at different times. The type of rocks and building methods gave us this belief. I decided that this was more than just a group of small buildings. I felt it would look like a fortress when viewed from outside the canyon. As we left the area traveling higher on the side of prieta I found only one rock that was covered with pretroglyps. It had a picture of the sun and a series of double circles like figure eights. I felt it was a map. A map of the very fortress we had left. The placement of the sun and circles was that of the canyon beyond and the circle buildings. Counting the circles I told Linde we had missed one.

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copyright 2005 Chuck Dawson Corrales NM

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