Now that we have spent 2 days up Mesa Verde, I can tell you that living in the 500-1200 AD is truly only for the hardiest.
Naturally those Anasazi etc. did not get very old.
Just imagine climbing up cliffs daily to forage for food and then carry it up multiple ladders, grinding corn on stones, and burning fires to heat it and the chambers....I think not only the food got smoked but the people did as well.
Plus the ever present danger of fires. And the dependency on rain for water!
We had absolutely great weather, cool, a bit overcast and breezy.
Which made the various hikes off the well paved /tarred roads to overlooks and cliff edges rather easy. Only the climb back up made us huff and puff (lol).
Shocking was the sight of the dead burnt trees due to several wildfires since 1996, the last, which damaged 80%, was just in 2002.
Sure, some of the older burns showed signs of re-vegetation, primarily the lovely yellow Rabbit bushes and other low growing vegetation including invasive thistles. But the sad burnt trees and stumps made for a sorry sight. Strangely, some trees looked intact, until one went around the trunk and saw signs of internal fires. The cause: lightening strikes burn into the root balls and then flames shoot up inside the trunks, or so the rangers told us. The National Park Service keeps helicopters with heat detection gear stationed close precisely to find such ' fire hot spots' and fight them at the root (so-to-speak). And the hard work to save the antiquities from fires.
The sights of those villages glued like hives into cracks of cliff sides was simply overwhelming. And fires up one's imagination.. although ...I personally could not see myself as one of those dwellers in the cliffs. :-).
But having no access to TV in our room at the Far View Inn was not a problem.
The view from balconies was wonderful , the breezes invigoration, the Metate Room food lovely.
What more could one ask.
No need to grind my own corn, harvest greens, hunt and skin game. Just enjoyed life without Television in our room at the Far View Inn. Did we miss it? NAW. The mudslinging of the campaign, the crazies killing, or governments murdering people.. no we did not in the least miss it.
We did pass several promising sites on Wetherill Mesa, but per ranger, the tribes demand the stoppage of excavations, since they say: "You have 10,000 artifacts already, why do want more"?.So no more excavating.
This trip astounded with the variety of rocks, colors and formations.
Mother Nature with help of wind and water, ice and cold sculpted forms that are simply stunning.
The scenery on the steam railtrip up to Silverton from Durango is an eye opener.
Rushing waters of the Animas River over boulders, smooth and slick; trees, rocks, mountains, and the absolute stunning feat of putting a railroad there, past rock slides that just happened a few months ago and were barely cleared up enough to let the railroad get on it's way. It was as awesome in its way, as the Mesa Verde sites are, just different.
Plus Highway 550 carved out from steep mountain sides along rushing rivers, still tarns, and the ever present mountains. We passed Honeyville, where bees are queens ;-), and people make a good living tending hives on loan or owned. Railroad crossed over trestles, curved around bend after bend, and under Hwy 550.
Which, BTW, took us from Bloomfield all the way to Albuquerque.
Passing through Reservation after reservation and watching more awe inspiring rocks pass by, and soon, it seemed we became saturated by rocks. Only to ooh and aah over other stunning layers of colors, deep carved river beds running mostly dry, and the endless and infinite vistas of New Mexico, leaving us feeling diminished by their age and grandeur.
Tomorrow we head H -own-wards. Then comes the downloading of photos. The selection of those we deem best. Later I'll post a few, before gearing up for Ice hockey season again, ;-)!