In the footsteps of the Anastazi / Anasazi

                 "scenes from the Rio Cuervo in New Mexico"


It was five years ago when I first discovered the Cuervo areas. I was so captivated by the geology of the area I convinced my wife Trish and Daughter Bentley to spend a warm Christmas day in 1996 or 97 in an area I call "Lobo Canyon". It starts with a walk about 2 miles from the car to a wall of spires and tent rocks.

From this site you could not see any sign that people had ever existed here.

Now it had been five years and I was to visit again in the winter. This time it would be in the snow. We had found yet another canyon to search. Greg and I had broken down the process like this. First we would go into an area and discover it. Then we would explore it. On the third trip we would document it. Sounds good right? Well it never quite comes off this way. On this trip we found a large tree log that had become petrified in a solid rock. The log represented a difference in material and contracted and expanded differently. This caused the entire rock to split at the log. When it fell some 50 feet from the canyon wall approximately 70 feet to the ground, the log was exposed. felipe.jpg

You have to get a sense that this rock with the log in it was a 50 ton chunk of what had been the surface that we walked on at the top of the canyon. The reason I mention this is that the log was vertical when the rock had been the surface of the canyon top. This means that it was sticking almost straight up. I have a problem with this concept as it means that the log about 6 feet in length was piercing through several strata or layers of rock and had petrified in all the layers not horizontal in one layer. I can understand how a log laying in a layer of sandstone ends up solid The problem I have is that this log was sticking up through several layers or years of strata and survived to petrify. Take a look.

A lot of the snow was melted away but there was still about six inches on the north facing slops. The water falls all had snow in them and the rocks were dangerous as I would find out.

On this outing Greg the mountain goat decided that we should explore an area that was snow covered. I found out fast just how all those rocks at the bottom of the canyons got there. The water from the snow gets behind the rocks and freezes. The water freezes and expands causing the rock to push away from the canyon side. Eventually it falls. Then when a dummy like me who has been using these rocks all summer to climb grabs one it dislodges and pulls away. Its at this point while falling from the canyon wall with a rock in my hand that I realized this process. This time I was lucky and just broke a couple of fingers (it hurts to type this), and a gash about 5 inches long in my right thigh. This happened as I fell into a "V" shaped group of rock and wedged myself to a stop using my right leg. The Anasazi had ladders placed in the proper places to climb to the Tops of the mesa's they wished to be on. We found several petroglyphs indicated the path to the ladders.

The bottom petroglyph not only indicated that there was a path with a ladder to help you get up, but what you would find on the path. This rock displays the water fall, the way to the ladder as well as the kinds of animals that use the path.

From the mesa above you can see the snow covered meadows below.

We had been going to the big water fall for a number of visits. The place is just magic and I think they thought so also. We were spending more time figuring out just who "they" were. On this occasion we had brought a friend who had been on some digs and knew a lot more than we. The trek to the big fall was a long one with back packs and in the winter it was more than our fiend wished to take on. He decided to stay near the car while Greg and I did the big trek to the falls. When we returned to the car our friend was not in site. I fired off a round from my 38 caliber side arm and from a short distance just behind a rock past the car answered a shot from our friend. He appeared and I ask what he had been looking at behind the rocks. He replied that he had been inspecting the pit house and the village ruins just 50 feet from the car. My retort was, "What ruins?"

For a start he pointed out that there were man made walls that shielded a pit house. Then he showed us the foundations for several more homes. There was pottery everywhere. You could not take a step without standing on a schard. You could also see where they had been planting. The up side is there was a tremendous amount of evidence to look at in this spot that we had used as a parking area. The down side was that there was too much more to discover to spend the time at this spot.

At this site we found that we had been driving over the pottery and parking In some instances on ruins that we did not recognize. We now had an idea of who "they" were. Clearly they were Anasazi. The black and white pottery and the mortar we located told the tail.

We even found some preserved ears of corn and the pestle for the mortar. On this day we climbed split mesa and saw what they saw in those many years gone by.

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