Got into Chaco without incident on Monday afternoon. The roads are washboard, as everyone says, but were mostly dry and not awful except for a few spots. There was very little other traffic, so I took my half of the road out of whatever looked best.
Secured a site in the campground for two nights, and one which backed up to ancient cliff dwellings......the host told me the campground is actually over unexcavated ruins that have been identified thru infrared detection. Campsites are small.
The park has many cliff dwellings and other ruins, per the camp host, not open to the public as they are too unstable, also to prevent deterioration due to human access. Human traffic at Chaco is limited to identified trails and sites, only, which are closed sunrise to sunset......and there is frequent patrolling by Rangers to enforce.
We got an early start yesterday. Lily explored some sites with me, had to stay in the Interstate for others, and I did them all but the long hike out to the Pictographs.....5-7 hours round trip was a bit too much sun for me. Amazing structure of these dwellings, and stone selection for walls which appear not only functional but decorative. Beautiful, awe-inspiring place.
Ran into a couple from the Gila trip at my last site yesterday, and we had a nice visit end of day at my campsite. They had run into another Gila couple coming out of the Cliff Dwellings, so we are all out and about exploring ancient Indian ruins in SW New Mexico.
I had saved for this morning the Una Vida trail, as it is the first you come to, and Lily had to stay behind. My only real excitement of this trip occurred here.
It was an easy walk to the ruins, which quickly became my favorite as they are up on a hill. Beyond them is a series of petroglyphs, which I really wanted to see, and got up that steep climb without any real difficulty. Magnificent, and I got pictures with my trusty, Otterbox-encased IPad mini....12 emails also came into my inbox while I was up there.
However, coming back down I went on what I thought was the trail and realized it was not when I was nearly vertical on rocks and could not go down any further without significant drops. I also saw waaaaaaaay over to my left the steps that had been built into the trail.
So, a little afraid to proceed back up from that point by myself, I'm calling.....helllloooo?.....helllllllooooooo?......anybody there?????
. Hoping their might be a strong male hand. Nope.
Hadn't brought my whistle, so if I fell into one of those drops I would have just laid there til someone else took that extra route to the Petroglyphs. They were worth it.
No one but me way up there....so I either screamed and cried for help, or went back up. Not the puddle and heap type, I climbed and crawled my way back up this nearly vertical area to the top. Never fell once, did slide a bit a couple of times. Yikes.
I am not one for selfies, and my self conscious inner child hates to have my photo taken.......but, I got a selfie of myself up there, once I had made the climb back up..... which I will post later.
Got myself uneventfully back out of Chaco this morning, down 550 a bit, then took 96 across to Abiquiu and thru what I think was Apache National Forest. Am sitting in the shade in Abiqui as I type.
A couple from the Gila trip, who live in Taos and whose gallery I want to see, have invited me to stay tonight with them and will feed me dinner. Lovely, interesting couple, who I really enjoyed meeting....and I accept.
Will head toward home tomorrow, via a couple of stops in Iowa. It's been a great, personally-strengthening trip.
I will post some photos later.