It’s been a while since I’ve been on a hike with Josh and Jamie. In fact, the last hike I had gone on with them Sophia (the littlest hiker) was about five months from being born.
So Josh had a place he wanted to go see, we loaded up the cars with the kids and dogs. Before you know it, we were on our way for a beautiful Sunday hike.
Location: Off of Highway 163, past Mexican Hat
Temperature: 60-70s (Never moving back to Illinois!)
Who: Josh, Jamie, Sophia (the littlest hiker), Charlie, Kate, Marshall, Diesel, Bentley, and Me
Difficulty: Down one side of a canyon and back up the other.
Time: 1-2 hours
It’s no doubt that Arizona has been left out of the winter storm vortex that the rest of the country has been enjoying, not that we are complaining. The good weather has brought the best out of us and makes us want to get out and move.
After we parked the car, we got going, heading straight towards an old wash. We knew of some pictographs and an old cliff dwelling. Marshall had recently taken a course about archeology for his job, and was anxious to test his new skills.
Some of us moved faster than others… Now over all the goal was to get to the Anasazi ruins pictured a little above. A little history of the region: In early American history, a cultural group settled the four corners region. Their communities varied in size, but there is no doubt that the society was complex. They farmed extensively in the area. A huge distinction is the pueblos and the cliff dwelling they left behind. And we’re not quite sure why they were left. Over farming, over hunting, drought, and group conflict are all possibilities. We know that the migration was slow, but eventually final. They left their cliff dwellings and settled more of the region, their descendants became the Zuni, Hopi, Pueblo, and about ten other cultural groups. Anasazi is actually a term given to the Ancient Pueblo people by the Navajo tribe, who had moved in the area after the final migration. The term is reference to the Ancient One or Ancient Enemies. Which is pretty much how the tribe views those who came before them. Tradition says that you shouldn’t go to the Ancient Dwellings or Pueblos, for that’s when bad things happen. When I have gone hiking with Navajos, many will hike with us to a point and then wait for the white people to be done poking around where we shouldn’t be. If you like the cliff dwelling, I would suggest starting at Mesa Verde. It’s a National Park that has preserved some of what came before and the rangers are very knowledgeable about the Ancient Pueblos and the structures. Plus the dwellings at Mesa Verde are much easier to get to. This is what we had to do to get to the Butler Wash. Of course the four legged ones find it easier to get down then us humans. And after our little rock climbing adventure, we got to the pictographs. Images left behind from those who had enjoyed this land before us. Hand prints are popular, as are figures of people, sheep, and dogs. The sad thing is that the images have used for target practice. We continued further down, following Josh who was figuring out how to get us closer to the cliff dwelling structure. At the very bottom of the canyon, we found some cool surprises.
One was some wild sage plants. Sage is used in cooking and medicine for the tribes in the region. My Native coworkers tell me that drinking sage tea is one of the best things you can do when you are sick. We picked some to dry and take home. It’s still hanging off my hiking backpack. My coworker and friend, Marsha, was excited to see it. I’m saving it for the next time I’m sick.
And of course, Diesel found his water.
I had never seen a dog so happy to get wet, but in he flew to be the first and only in the water. Bentley, who is much more reserved than Diesel and afraid of water, hung back. I’m okay with a dog that doesn’t need to get wet on every hike we go on.
Bentley overall stayed close to the humans. She’s only been with me for a month, and still being a puppy prefers to stay close to her mama. It’s the stray mentality that is still in the back of her mind, I’m her source of food. And while she likes to go on hikes, but she’s not always sure about how to climb, or rather climb down just yet.
Though it’s not like she doesn’t try really hard to be a big dog.
We walked the bottom of the wash and up the other side. Bentley got stuck, not able to jump up the smaller boulders that we had to climb both up and down. She watched Diesel do it, she watch the humans do it. But in the end we had to lift her up. But it was all worth it. The ruins were worth it.
And then we did it all backwards. Including Bentley getting stuck within the same spot. I’m looking forward to her being a bigger dog and getting used to our hiking adventures. We passed by the pictographs again, and Marshall found some more evidence of the Ancient Pueblos. A grinding stone, he’s got the official name. I don’t.
Finally we got back to the car. We pulled out our picnic lunches. Fruit, nuts, and OkeeDokee popcorn. At the end of the day, this is what I got…
A tired puppy!