The day starts before sunrise with a coyote serenade. The tent is beginning to lighten, so I get up and discover that it is still night; the brightness is caused by the half full moon. There is a faint glow on the horizon, an omen of sunrise to arrive in an hour. The campground is quiet at 5:30 so after taking care of necessities I go back to bed.
(A coyote just walked through my campsite as I am typing this, passing not 10 feet from me!)
While cooking breakfast – oatmeal with raisins – I discover that my meal plan is a day short! The decision to come out Monday instead of Tuesday was made at the last minute, and the meal plan had not been updated. Fortunately an extra loaf of bread had been thrown in along with a box of Triscuits. I should be able to survive this trip!
The plan is to bike out to Pueblo Bonito for the 10:00 ranger tour, perhaps tour another of the great houses, and return to camp for lunch. Only two bottles of water are deemed necessary, but two extra liters and some trail mix are thrown into the panniers “just in case”. It’s a good thing, too, as events transpire. The tour at Pueblo Bonito was led by Elissa, an intern from the Student Conservation Association. Actually she has a BA in Anthropology but can’t find a job and was fortunate to land this internship. She is very knowledgeable on the topic. After the tour I strike up a conversation with a couple going through the Great House. They said that a new ranger-led tour of Chetro Ketl has been added , so of course I go on that tour. Ranger Lauren was very knowledgeable and provided an instructive and pleasant tour.
It’s now after 2:00. I’ve used 3 of my 4 bottles of water and some trail mix, and I’m starting back to camp. The Chaco Loop Road is one way, so I can’t come back the way I came. Fortunately Pueblo Bonita is at the far end of the loop, so the return trip is no farther than the distance to get to Pueblo Bonita. Along the way is Pueblo Arroyo and Casa Rinconada. Of course I have to tour those two Great Houses. Without a tour guide, this takes much less time to accomplish. Casa Rinconada is where the Autmn Equinox event will take place.
The last water bottle is empty, and I am on my way back to camp, with only one stop to view the Chaco Staircase. It isn’t obvious, but I did eventually locate it. I’m looking at Fajada Butte and remembering some conversation about being able to see the Sun Dagger location, so I pull off at the Visitor Center to ask. Sure enough, at the Fajada Butte Overlook there is a telescope set up to allow viewing of the site. You can see the three rocks, but not inside where the spiral is located. The sun dagger is an ingenious way to track the motion of the sun and moon. That’s the last sight before arriving at camp.
All the ice has melted in the cooler, but the watermelon is still cold. I eat several pieces and share some with a couple who has hiked to Peñasco Blanco. This is a hike I am considering for tomorrow.
There are still three hours before the Night Sky program, so I decide to ride out to Wijiji. The big draw here is some pictographs on the canyon wall. I did not know about them and only found one by following a sign. Only one pictograph is visible to my naked eye, but after scanning the area with binoculars I found several more. I take several photos at max resolution in the hope that these additional pictographs would be visible after some digital enhancement. The camera has less maginification than the binoculars so I did not see these additional pictographs through the lens, but with RAW resolution I should be able to blow up the image quite a bit.
The Night Sky program is on Archeoastronomy and once again very informational. Telescopes were available for viewing celestial objects, but I was so tired after a full day that I could barely keep my eyes open. In fact I am constantly yawning as I type this blog entry. I’ve found that I need to record a day’s events immediately or they may never be recorded. Time to hit the sack.
Mouse over the pins in the map to see a thumbnail of the photo. Click on the Everytrail link to see a slide show, linked to the location where the photo was taken.