Wow, what to say. And since much has already been said so eloquently by others
... Nonetheless, and as you know, I am never at a loss for words, ha!
Friday, we (oliverr99-Anne & writelots-Wendy) left Phx around 3:45 and arrived to set up camp at Navajo Nat'l Monument Campground around 10ish. Very chilly Friday nite......burrrr. It was funny though, I kept expecting someone to turn out the light but it was the moon acting as our nightlight
. Saturday's hiking adventure more than made up for the cold temps of the night before.
Driving through Monument Valley was surely impressive; especially as we circled around the north side onto the dirt roads to a place unknown to us and most others. When you first start the hike, you can't see your destination until you cross down into and out of the wash, across a creek and up onto a plain and then over a little hill. Finding the place to get down into the wash from 25 foot or higher was our first challenge. Everyone did their best to find the best spot to cross. I think we ultimately decided to just go for it. Rob found a neat dirt gully to slip-slide down; it was great fun... wish it had been longer, ha!.
Someone knew we needed to get over toward a cottonwood tree to get to the other side of the wash. We managed that by following a bit of a cow trail through the 7-10 ft willows, salt cedar, etc... wondering, would there be water at the main cut of Chinle Creek or not??? Nope, dry as a bone. We were relieved.
From the petroglphyed boulder, Rob kept pointing to a bunch of rocks sitting in the distance on the cliff's side and said, those are part of the ruins. Hmmmmm. Okay. Our second maze of 7-10 foot salt cedar, willows and some skin-cutting bear grass came as we left the petroglyphed boulder to get to the ruins. Randy and others went one way but I decided to follow the guy that's been there a few times... Rob, who would surely know the easiest path. He says we want to get closer to the side of the cliff... made sense to me. We ended up going back to the cow path
and finally found our way out to below the ruins with the rest of the group.
I never imagined that I would actually get to be this close to such ruins let alone climb up into them... and what a view too. There was so much to take in, the glyphs, the large and varied pottery sherds, the cobs, the yucca, the wood part of the structures, the pottery sherds used as part of a wall's creation, the different rooms, the walls themselves-- Gosh. Oh yes, and the horseshoe bend of the creek that would have irrigated the crop land below. One would have to suspect that the creek may have been diverted in a horseshoe form just for that purpose.
Wendy happened to look up at just the right time to see a green colored strip and additional petroglphys. She made her way up to the next level while others of us skirted around the side and on up. This is an area where we saw some more of the structures origins and some more sherds, petroglyphs, and wood beams/posts. If she hadn't looked up at that precise time, we may have missed this part of the ruins... probably the third story.
We finally climbed down from the euphoria of the ruins and spectacular views to watch as Rob and Mike climbed to the middle ruins. After they had climbed up, Randy too arrived at the bottom of the cliff below this section of the ruins. He was able to help guide them as the steps that were moulded into the cliff's side were a little more precarious coming down.
It was decided that accessing the third set of ruins at the east side of this slight semi-circle of ruins was not doable. We headed back but not before checking out the spring area around the corner. From there we walked down to and around the bottom of the dry bed of Chinle Creek. We got to walk on this really neat dry-cracked mud; it made such a cool sound. Plus there were these little round mud balls for a short ways; very wierd. We stayed in the dry creek bed which was a lot easier than working our way through the maze. We were out near the boulders before you knew it. I don't know how they did that as once again I was at the tail, but I sure liked this much better.
We made our way back to the cottonwood tree, through the maze and back to the early morning dilema, how to get out of the wash with the least amount of climbing the 25 foot embankments. We decided to go up the first gully (at the south side) with the branched fence. I presume the fence was to keep the cattle from using that gully. So through the fence and up the dirt hill with minimal spinning out
we went. We stopped for a slight rest. The sun was slowly coming down and so the colors of our surrounds were saturating beautifully. The rest of the way was uneventful and I actually didn't come in last.... but then again, I didn't take as many pics as I might have been tempted to do.
I would like to also say thanks to Randy. Your beers are always the finest and you are always gracious to share them with all of us. Now we know why you're always the first person back to the trailhead
. It was fun to pull out the camp chairs & pull down the tailgates to just sit for 15 minutes or so and reflect on the day before loading up to head off to Goulding's.
And of course, the perfect hike should always have a surreal or magical moment. Ours was the sun setting behind Monument Valley with some slight cloud cover and a dust storm rolling across the plain below the monuments. We weren't done yet as the full moon also shown brightly as were going in to celebrate our day with a fine dinner of Navajo tacos and for some, prickly pear iced-tea.
Thank you Rob. What a great trip! Thanks for sharing this special place with us. It was nice to meet up with Randy, Anne & Wendy and to meet Rob, Meghan and Mike.