Saturday, November 8, 2008

32-08 Verde Valley Arizona tour ending

The sun is setting behind the mountain range around 5 PM now. The evening air is 63 and dropping. It’s a dry crisp air. From my campsite, I usually walk over to the dumpster in the next camp loop where it’s usually empty except when a group takes over on the weekends. After dropping off my small bag of garbage, I walk around the silent campsites and look over at the ancient Pueblo, Tuzigoot. It’s easy to get into a contemplative mood and think about the Native Indians who lived up on the hill off in the distance over 1,000 years ago and built that beautiful Pueblo which caps the summit of the hill. I’ve watched it many an evening changing color as the sun turns the adobe bricks red in the setting sun.

Did you know Arizona does not have daylight saving time? It has been so odd not to change my clocks this past week. Either way, I still get up shortly after the sun comes up. Well ok, actually I lay in bed thinking, isn’t it nice not having to get out of bed and go to work. Opps, sorry about that to all my working stiff friends.

I have one more place to explore while in the Verde Valley, AZ. That’s the V bar V Ranch. It’s been cold the last couple of days and nights, but today, Friday, it’s warming up a bit and of course the sun is shining. A perfect day for a hike to the Petroglyphs that are a part of the V - V Ranch. Can you imagine owning a ranch and discovering Petroglyphs on your property. The owners eventually gave the land to the Gov to preserve the site.

I can’t tell you what a gorgeous refreshing day it is. The sun shining, a cool breeze that rattles the tall dry grasses as I walk along the mile long round trip path to the ancient site where Native Indians recorded what they saw. Deer, prong horn antelope, egrets, turtles as well as creating a solar calendar right on the side of the stone walls. The guide told us some of the markings are from very ancient Native Indians possibly going back as far as 10,000 years. Most are from the 800-1,000 year old range.

I talked to the gal at the visitor center and she told me how her and her husband are enjoying volunteering at this site for a couple of months. They are full time campers and usually try to stay in an area for about two to three months at a time. They work 4 days F-M, then the Ranch is closed for 3 days, giving them the run of the place.

I was told about Scared Mountain, about a ¼ of a mile from the Ranch, so I trek on down the red clay dirt road, dust billowing behind me and find the white mountain among all the other red mountains. Pulling off the road, traveling down and around dry washes, over land strewn with small fist sized rocks, I park next to an old fence. This is wilderness. I sort of find the path leading up the Scared Mountain, finally finding the path as it leads me over a dry wash and up the side of the Mountain. The trail is filled with white lime stone and I’m thankful I have on a really good pair of hiking boots. Half way up the mountain is a sign with a sign in sheet. I sign in and continue along the path that winds around the mountain, gradually leading to the summit.

As I get to the top and rest for a couple of minutes, I realize the Native Indians who lived up here had a really great view of the entire surrounding area. This is an unexcavated site where numerous Pueblo buildings once stood. At first all I see are piles of rocks around depressions in the ground. The top of the mountain is covered in small brush and very prickly pear cactus.

As I wonder around the top edge of Scared Mountain, I’m able to see more and more sites. A few are fairly well defined walls. All of their mortar is long since gone. Their roofs collapsed centuries ago. One after another, I see depressions, then more walls. As I look closer, I see bits and pieces of pottery shards everywhere. Some have been placed on rocks by other hikers. Just as many are on the ground.

This is the first site I’ve been to where there has been no attempt to excavate the site. Though I’m sure scavengers, pot hunters, have already searched the area. What a great hike. Alone, listening to the silence, looking out over the vast landscape of rugged desert landscape with an immense blue sky above. And yet thousands of Indians survived for a time out here.

One of the best hikes I’ve had all summer or should I say fall. This is what exploring the wild west is all about.

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