Now that we had discovered that a scooped area was a water fall and some of them had cliff dwellings in them we took a long hard look at the surrounding area. Yep! Sure enough, there we many of these location in eye site. Many miles, many water falls. Suddenly we knew that this was not just a visit or two. We were going to have to change our lives. Rattle snake season had just opened up and the heat was always up in the 90's. It was time to take a serious look at the rules. The first rule was each of us must carry our own water or other drinks. We had not looked at this in a serious way until a couple of us constantly ran our of water in the middle of a hike. The second rule was that we would not leave the car without a gun. After a couple of encounters with growls coming out of black holes in the rocks, a couple of bad snake encounters and the thought of having to hike out of the Cuervo for two days this became mandatory.
To find the water falls was easy. Look around the canyon, see the scoop,
drive as close as possible. Pack up some water and a gun. Look for a burro,
antelope or cow trail to the fall and follow it.
Well this started an new problem, boots. We soon discovered that climbing boots were the order of the day. Needless to say after the first few hikes we had boots, back packs, knives, rope, water, first aid kits, food and ammunition. The first real water fall we later called "Two Pond" because it was a split fall with two run offs.
Two Pond became the most common type of water fall we would find. A sandstone shelf from a wash above that ran off almost daily into an amphitheater and pond below. Lush vines and trees all around it and a run off stream extending from the pond to the Cuervo and main gorge.
When you entered the overhanging area the temperature would be about 20 degrees cooler. The humidity would cause your lungs to spring to life in the otherwise dry desert heat.
Hundreds of birds in mud nests would swarm the area as we approached.
They seem to feed on the thousands of insects from the ponds. Typically
they would build their mud nests just outside the opening of the water
fall on the over hanging lip.
To our surprise and delight we had arrived in the area at the exact time the local birds were nesting. I could not tell the difference between an eagle, hawk, owl or crow at the time. They all seemed like large birds that would suddenly fly out from in front of us and disappeared as fast as they would appeared. There was an exception with some crows at Two Pond who would put on a show for you the whole time you were in the area. The crows were two thirds the way up the bare side walls of the water fall.
Now to forge the "Big fall". We could only drive off road about a mile when it was obvious that we would be packing in for quite a hike. Loaded for the unknown we set out across the gorge that climbed out of the mesa's side from the water that had run out of the fall.
We started the trip up a large wash with a small water fall and pond below it.
Atop the second wash we found worked abscinion that could have been parts of a failed axe head or arrow head. Further up the wash at a point were the water flowing would rush over the rocks and form a vale of water below someone had placed six large volcanic rocks in a semi-circle with a main rock in the center. Movement of these rocks would take two to four people. The way there were placed was at a perfect spot to see the entire valley Below and be next to a sizable dynamic river flow. Looked ceremonial to me.
Above us was the big fall. The burros were moving ahead of us as though it was a paved road. I found myself peeling rocks away from the slop at every step. I found the heat was becoming intense and water was needed about every quarter Mile of hike. There was no part of the path that was more than 8 inches wide. You could not walk on the path. It seemed that only the animals could achieve That. Soon it was becoming a climb not a walk. The scoop was becoming larger and larger. We had climbed about 3,000 feet up. I could only imagine the force of the water shooting out from the scoop and the giant stream of water falling with the force of a building to the wash below. It was no wonder that all of the surface dirt was gone from the wash and it had been eroded down to the fossils we would latter discover. Once at the scoop it became clear just how magnificent this spot was and the almost magnetic attraction it had to anyone who is near it.
Standing in the mouth of the scoop you felt as though you were being pulled to the end and out to the space below.
The mouth of the scoop was at least 15 feet across at the narrow edge. Further up the scoop were boulders of lava twice my size. Some were the size of a VW bug. They were being rolled down from the top of this volcanic mesa and off the edge of the scoop to the valley below. I could see from this edge not only the complete breath of the valley before us, but in the distance the cliff dwellings as just a speck across the valley.
Niches had been dug out in the sides of the scoops walls. They were angled to face the ruins across the valley. Some of the niches had been blackened as though there was a small fire in them. I saw a TV special later that week that showed an Anastazi signaling using a blank and fire at night. I believe that these niches were used as talking lights. We know that they used search lights to guide hunting parties and such. I believe that the small niche with a piece of wood burning in it could be used to talk just like a signal light flashing. I believe that the other niches identified the location or other important information.
This place is a "power" place. The shear danger of the edge of the scoop and the potential fall hundreds of feet below. The giant boulders the size of small cars flinging out to the valley below and the view and specter being in a spot that can communicate thus control the great canyon and mesas below. As we left the fall to inspect the pond below we would find that we had only touched the surface of how these people lived. We would find evidence that they had used the pond below.
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