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Exploring Northeast of Camp Verde, AZ
mini location map2016-09-21
26 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Exploring Northeast of Camp Verde, AZ 
Exploring Northeast of Camp Verde, AZ
Car Camping avatar Sep 21 2016
Car Camping12.00 Miles
Car Camping12.00 Miles2 Days   4 Hrs      
12 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I've been looking for a new area to explore with a high likelihood of finding Indian Ruins. A couple triplogs from other HAZers, some snooping on Google Earth and maybe a gps track provided from another intrepid explorer resulted in a 3 night solo car camping trip to this area to check it out. I've been disappointed in the devastation to some of the Indian Ruin sites I've visited caused by artifact hunters, some of which appeared to have occurred recently. So I've decided to be somewhat obscure about the location of my explorations in the hope that my triplog will not contribute to further damage to these sites.

This triplog covers three days of day hiking. Distance is approximate total hiked over three days.

Day 1:
On the way to my ultimate destination I visited a hilltop compound ruin spotted on Google Earth which was within about 200 yards of a road. Unfortunately it had been heavily damaged by pot hunters over the last 100 years. It appeared to have been a walled compound of maybe 8 to 10 rooms. The walls had all been knocked down but I suspect that before the pot hunters arrived the walls were standing tall. The rock used to build the walls had flat parallel sides that normally enable the walls to remain standing long after the adobe mortar has been washed away by centuries of rain fall.

In the afternoon I drove to another location, parked the FJ out of the wind in the lee of several junipers, and hiked off through a juniper forest to check out a likely location for ruins. Scattered pottery sherds started appearing on the ground about a half mile into the forest and continued off and on for the next mile with no signs of ruins. After wandering the forest for a while I came upon a massive defensive rock wall on the edge of a cliff. The wall made of stacked volcanic rock was about 100 ft long, 8-10 ft high at its highest point, and 4-5 ft thick. It was easily recognizable from photos I had seen in another HAZers triplog. There was no sign of any rooms except for maybe one rectangular section of wall at one end of the defensive wall. Heavy rainfall had started as I approached the ruin so I only took a couple of pictures before having to store my camera in a dry sack. I decided to head back to the car and return the next morning when it wasn't raining. By then I had also stashed my gps in a water proof pocket knowing that all I had to do was go back through the juniper forest. The hike through the forest seemed to be taking much longer than it should have possibly due to the heavy load of mud caked on my boots. After thinking I was passing an area I had already been to, I finally pulled out the gps. It was the classic lost in the forest scenario. I had crisscrossed the forest twice in directions perpendicular to my planned heading and then did a complete circle, all the time thinking I was heading towards my car. The up side was that by now I had covered enough of the forest to be fairly certain there were no more ruins hidden there. Also I came upon many embedded metates and the realization that pottery sherds were scattered over a very large area. This must have been a very busy food gathering place for the ancients. Back at the car I decided to set up camp for the night and not attempt to drive until the road had dried out. The sticky mud that clung to my boots would have also completely covered the tires after only a short distance reducing traction to almost zero and making a mess of the road.

Day 2:
The day started sunny with scattered clouds but I expected rain to return again by afternoon. The ground had dried enough overnight so that mud was not loading up on my boots as I again headed off through the juniper forest to revisit what I had found the day before. I then hiked through the forest for about 0.4 miles to another location that on Google Earth had looked like a promising site for ruins. There I found another defensive wall of about the same length but not as massive and had crumbled down to just a few feet in height. However behind the defensive wall was the remains of about six pueblo style rooms. Returning to the car around noon, I quickly broke camp and drove to my next destination. The wind was starting to blow hard but my search for a campsite out of the wind had only limited success. The small 8x10 tarp over my camp kitchen would take a beating but I put it up expecting rain. Then I set off to scout out a hiking route for getting to a known cliff dwelling, my planned hike for Day 3. Again there were pottery sherds scattered about at several locations and I even came across a broken metate only 40 ft from camp. The planned route to the cliff dwelling location looked quite doable from the cliffs above with maybe minor encounters with catsclaw and a steep canyon side traverse with loose gravel in just a few locations. I got back to camp just as rain sprinkles started so settled down with a book until it was time to cook dinner.

Day 3:
Another partly sunny morning but windy with storm clouds headed my way. I started off for the cliff dwelling and made fairly good time. The cliff dwelling which has been visited by at least three other HAZers is pretty amazing. The highest remaining building looks like it was originally 3 stories high. The first ground floor room is still intact and quite large, maybe 10 x 15-20 ft with a ceiling high enough (7 ft) for me to easily stand up. There was evidence of tree ring dating bore samples having been taken from the large support beams. A rectangular opening in the ceiling led to the second floor. The ceiling was gone from the second floor but holes could be seen in the walls where the ceiling beams had been located. This room also had a high ceiling and sections of the walls continued up 3 to 4 feet above the ceiling. This led me to conclude there had probably been a third story. The second and third story roof beams had disappeared - perhaps re-purposed for another building site or destroyed by fire. Charred wood lintels on one of the windows/doorways supported the fire theory. The overhanging cliff wall above the ruin does not provide much protection from the weather so many of the ruin walls had crumbled to the ground, perhaps aided by large slabs of rock breaking out of the cliff above. In its day this cliff dwelling had extended for some distance, maybe a 100 yds, along the cliff face. The cliff wall at the back of the ground floor rooms is a layer of softer clay like rock where the ancients carved out small cavelets to make storage rooms or maybe even sleeping rooms for children.

I headed back up to the cliff top around mid day with the intent of doing some more exploring but a storm was moving in and the wind was howling so I retreated to camp. That night the wind kept blowing hard so around midnight I got up and took down the loudly flapping tarp so I could get some sleep. The next day I planned to explore another possible ruin location on the drive home. However the road to this location was studded with huge skid pan ripping rocks so I abandoned that idea and headed for home about mid-morning. I did not encounter another person over the 4 weekdays I was up there. But by Friday morning the RVers with ATV trailers in tow were already coming in for the weekend on the main forest road leading to this area. It had been a successful four days with four ruin sites visited and plenty of more area to explore on future trips.
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