In the footsteps of the Anastazi / Anasazi

                 "scenes from the Rio Cuervo in New Mexico"


We have now found Anasazi ruins in block form as well as very primitive.  
They seem to be in every spot that is worth living in.  
The primitive ones are found around natural rock formations 
and they just improve on the surroundings by putting rock 
walls in between large rocks and connecting them together 
to make rooms.  The others are clearly carved or worked 
rocks that are created with large rectangular rocks for 
a foundation and carved rocks for walls.  Some of the 
workmanship is extraordinary as the corners of some of 
the buildings are sharp and make perfect angles. 

These places are incredibly hard to recognize. The building blocks blend into the rocks of the primitive type with perfect camouflage. In the case of this building or at least hunting blind it was not seen but past by us many times.
Some times you have to get right on it to see it. On this time out I spotted a building not 1000 feet from the road we had used on every outing. It seemed the light had just caught it right and suddenly there it was. A sophisticated base of carved rock that someone had laid adobe on to recreate the walls. For this reason you have to analyze the areas in the open for farming residents with their foundations in the open. You have to go to the foot of the bute or canyon wall and find the dwellings in the rocks. Climb the canyon sides to find the caves and hunting blinds. Check under water falls for ceremonial structures. Then climb to the top and see if there were dwellings there.

Each time out we seem to have a new theme. I had been out by myself and closed in on a full size Elk in a cave. The animal the size of a horse almost drove us both off the canyon wall to the rocks below as it jumped out of the cave on the ledge I was using to get into the cave. Both Mike and Greg wanted to look for Elk racks. The antlers are dropped in March and April. The problem was that the area with the most Elk was the top of Mesa Prietta. There is only one road up and to call it a road is an overstatement. There are spots in the road where Mike had to get out and fill in holes with large rocks so the car would not be damaged by the drop of the wheels over other rocks. Mike did a masterful job of climbing the road to the large flat mesa about 4 miles long and a mile wide. After this bumpy, dangerous ride we were at the top. My first thought was "only a helicopter can help is now!" We drove to the north end of the Mesa and found a large tank or pond that had been created to capture water. Greg was using binoculars to scan the area and I was in awe of the views when Mike announced that he could see his rack on the ground about 100 yards away. Sure enough we got out and he had a great Elk right side rack as a trophy. We spread out in three different directions for about 20 minutes when I heard two shots to summons me back to the car. They announced that they had found a hunters site. We drove to the far western edge of this flat top mountain to find a fire place, a small blind of rocks and a chair made from large volcano rocks.
Greg now finds his rack just off the edge of the Mesa.
After consuming some lunch and the magnificent views Mike decides it would be a great idea to forge down the Elk and Antelope trail to look for more racks. I think it's a good idea just to get to the new areas below. Greg wants to do it because he is in the best shape of us all and it looks easy. So were to go down.
The way down is filled with giant boulders of lava the size of Volkswagens with scrub oak all around. And if that was not bad enough some of the inclines were almost straight down. Once again we spread out to descend. At one point I heard a great rumble of falling rock and movement. I was frightened and drew my weapon only to see 5 frightened Elk rushing away from me heading in the direction of Greg. It is these magic moments when you are alone yet connected through the earth and all the creatures that make it worth the trouble it was taking to get where we were going. The picture below has a mark as to were it was we were going to.
We did all meet at the bottom. Only to notice what a task it would be to get back up to the top again. Greg made it without much problem. I was not in that kind of shape and found I was panting and having trouble leaping from rock to rock and my legs were so tired I would often loose my balance. Mike stopped with me as I took at least 5 breaks of several minutes on the way back. We could see Greg at the top shouting directions for the easiest paths to take. Mike admitted to me the he was leg weary also. In the end even Greg admitted that he though he was suffering from heat stroke and took a 10 minute rest half way up. We all ran out of water and were exhausted as we headed back. Here is what it looked like at the bottom. All of it is yet to be explored. The villages of a thousand years ago, the primitive hunting blinds unseen by modern people. Its all there waiting patiently for us to return and discover. We did find some pottery and Greg found an arrow head. They were there and so will we be. I wonder what would we do if an Elk does run into us or one of us breaks a leg or takes a bad fall. What if I had not been able to make it back up to the top?
As we drove back on the lonely path to descend the Mesa a lone Elk with a full rack, head back running at full stride came from behind the car parralelled us as we drove then cut in front of the car to vear off in front and gone into the distance. I can only tell you that my worst day out here is better than a 1,000 days at the office.

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copyright 2000/2001 Chuck Dawson Corrales NM

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