Monday, May 7, 2012

Petroglyph Trail - Mesa Verde, CO

Roger posing like the figure above his left ear
Hi all, Dianne here.  Our third day at Mesa Verde was spent hiking the Petroglyph Trail, a 3-mile, round-trip loop trail that leads to a wall of petroglyphs.   I have to say, this was both the best and most challenging trail I've ever hiked!  Lots of water and sturdy hiking boots are a must.  It's high altitude (7,000 feet), very dry air, and lots of rock scrambling.  The weather was perfect, though; low 70s with bright sunshine.

We logged in at the ranger's station before departing for the hike, which was described as taking two to three hours for the 3-mile loop.  When we finally logged back in after completing our trek, it had taken us every bit of 3 hours, although we went slowly (for us), took our time and stopped at the many markers for Roger to read the descriptions from the trail guide.  

Ancient soot still visible above ruins
On the way to the trail head, we took the short hike down to view the Spruce House ruins. They were much like the ruins we saw on the Cliff Palace tour, so I'll just show a couple of photos with captions of the more interesting things I noticed:

Roger climbing down into a kiva
Roger, the intrepid one, took a ladder down into a below-ground kiva.  
Dianne illustrating height of tower
Initials of John Wetherill, 1800s explorer of the area
Manos and metates used for grinding corn

  After leaving the ruins, we made our way to the                trail head to begin our adventure down 
     the Petroglyph Trail. 

   This early squeeze-through was just a taste of 
    things to come.                        

   Check out the stone steps.       
   There were lots of
  similar stretches of stone         
   stairways, both up and down
  along the trail.  This one was          
  relatively easy, for there 
   were sides to hold onto.

   Striking colors...
    Here are a few more shots from the 
    hike that caught my eye, some with captions:

First rocks to scramble up; my knees took a beating on this trail because I was wearing shorts.

    We passed a perfect place to hide:


Yes, the sky was this blue!

  One point along the trail was particularly interesting.  I'll quote from the trail guide:


"Notice the axe grooves at about eye level on this flat rock.  The Anasazi used stone for tools since they had no metals.  They made axe heads out of hard rocks, sharpening them by rubbing the stones on sandstone.  These axe grooves are the result of such processes."

At one point Roger said, "You go first; I want to take your picture up on the ledge."  So, obedient wife that I am (ha!), I scrambled up on the ledge, only to discover that it led to a dead-end at a steep drop-off.

Now what??  Turns out, we missed a turn and so I scooted back off the ledge and we forged on to find...

More stone steps...

This set of steps was scary (for me, at least), with nothing to grab for balance:

After a quick stop for a sandwich...

We finally reached the petroglyphs:

Here's another segment:

Earlier on the trail, we passed a couple heading back the way they came.  The wife warned us that there were some big rocks to scramble right after the petroglyphs.   She wasn't kidding!   This was the scariest part of the trail for me.  The foot holds were far higher than my legs could manage.  With moral support and Roger literally watching my back(side), I finally found a hand hold and hoisted myself up.  Once we passed that hurdle, we came upon yet more rocks to scramble up: 

We finally made it to the top of the mesa, where the remainder of the trail took us on top of the mesa through pinyon-juniper "pygmy" forest, with occasional spectacular views.  But first, a look back down where we scrambled up:

More interesting sights along the way...

Look closer...

More ledges:

More lovely views:

All that was left to do was cross the rock-topped mesa and make our way back to the museum (flag in distance) to check in at the ranger station.

This is a hike I will never forget!  Although every muscle in my body was sore that evening, we enjoyed it so much that we decided to extend our stay at Mesa Verde and take a second hike on Monday, the Spruce Canyon hike, which one of the rangers suggested was his personal favorite.  

I took so many photos that I made another photobucket album.  Here's a link if you'd like to watch a slide show and experience the entire hike as we did (without the exertion).  It takes a few minutes, but Roger says it's worth it!

Petroglyph Trail Hike slideshow -- All Photos 

The pet photo of the day is my cuddle bug, Tequila, sharing the recliner with me as I added the photos from this hike onto our computer:


squawmama said...

Great photos and wow what a wonderful hike that looked like... Glad you're having fun!
Travel safe

Nancy and Bill said...

Fantastic hike. Your photos are wonderful!!

Thanks for taking us along and can't wait for the Monday hike:o)))