Poncho House Ruins - October 2009
"It was along this stretch that we came across the single most astounding site we would find on the Comb, a ruin that we would spend parts of two days exploring. On a ledge a hundred feet above the Chinle, all along a sharp inward bend of the stream, beneath a severely overhanging wall that soars 200 feet to the cliff top, the Anasazi had built a village facing southwest, comprising at least seventy to seventy-five rooms. In its defensive grandeur, the place is solid Pueblo III in date. It is, in fact, the largest cliff dwelling in Utah."
pp85-86 of SANDSTONE SPINE by David Roberts
I had a chance last year to explore some of Comb Ridge north http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=5467
of the San Juan River. When PageRob talked of organizing a trek viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4067
to explore a section of Comb Ridge south of the San Juan River, I was quick to commit...
With a last minute cancelation by Capstone Luncheon physician, Mike Mattes and I were able to escape work early on Friday. We piled our gear into Mike's Jeep and were on the road a few minutes after 12 noon. A mid-afternoon lunch at the Beaver Street Brewery with Hannah in Flagstaff and a side trek to the Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9066
before arriving at our Hampton Inn "base camp" in Kayenta.
Saturday morning rendezvous at the Kayenta McDonald's where Mike and I met up with Angela (aka Tibber), Anne (aka Oliverr99), Wendy (aka Writealot), Rob (aka PageRob), and Megan (aka ???). A quick ride to the Permit Office at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park to pick up our $5 day permits and we were bouncing our way along San Juan County Road 425 towards our trail head somewhere off SJCR 491 in the vicinity of Moses Rock.
Once on the "trail", predictably enough, Rob was finding projectile points and pottery sherds every couple of steps. The cross-country trek to the edge of Chinle Wash was easy enough. Finding a passage down the +25 foot shear walls into the wash was the challenge! After a couple of false starts, Rob found a gentle cut down into the wash via a side tributary. The wash itself is a tangle of cowpaths, salt cedar, and skin-cutting bear grass. Following an eastward bearing we soon came to the main channel cut of Chinle Creek. Rob's dire warnings of quicksand and knee-deep, swift-flowing, creek crossings http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=60399
were fore naught on this day - everything was dry to the bone, reminiscent of Grand Gulch...
Once out of Chinle Wash and up onto a bench area, Rob pointed out a rock fall area with some promising looking boulders with flat surfaces and black desert varnish - promising looking rock art sites...
With the group breaking into their packed lunches near the "newspaper" rock, I combed through the boulders looking for additional sites. Found nothing of note except the occasional small lizard.
From the bench we continued on our east bearing towards the alcoves hosting Poncho House Ruins. Back into the meandering bends of Chinle Wash and a mega-tangle of salt cedar. In retrospect, our exit route following the dry wash was a much preferred path. Anyways, when I popped out of the salt cedar tangle into a clearing and looked up, there they were - Poncho House Ruins!
We encountered a group of school teachers from Mexican Hat wrapping up their early morning visit to the ruins. That was our last human encounter of the day until we reached Goulding's!
Rob's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9074
Wendy's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9087
Ann's images http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=9093
Excellent trip planning Rob - you are our Anasazi Master! Great company as well. Next time - Rainbow Bridge???
BTW - now have photos exactly the same as Greg Child provided for David Robert's SANDSTONE SPINE