Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ruining it for Everyone

Ruins of Grand Gulch. Day 2

Day one in the gulch was a little bit of a repeat of last year so we made good time and covered a lot of miles so that we could slow down and spend more time looking and less time hiking. This post is mostly about the ruins and little to nothing about the hike and surrounding views. I'm uncertain if the title is misleading so I'll clear that up right now. I chose it because these historical artifacts are for everyone to see and I'm showing what I have to everyone. We follow the access rules and don't disturb them in any way but it's clear others are a lot less abiding and it's ruining it for others and if it keeps up, everyone. They've already been forced to restrict access to some of the best ruins because of damage and disrespecting the sites. The saddest part is this isn't limited to this place. The same story exists in many of the places I go. If you want to understand the magnitude, look at all the trash on the side of the road. The same shit bags that can't keep their trash under control are ruining it for everyone because it doesn't stop when they get out of the car and into the park systems.

The round smooth door means this was a house. If it had square corners and a lip it would be a grain store. They would mud a stone into the hole to keep rodents out. Getting to them requires some skill and sticky feet. 

All of the ruins are under enormous overhanging rims so they hardly ever see rain. They are almost always facing south and east and normally 50 feet or more up from the current floor. Large dirt/scree ramps give access to the closest ones but many require rock climbing skills. Beyond that the original owners used ladders to maybe 100 feet.

Many of my photos this year are smudged. The lens is getting worn from all the dirt and grime and I need to learn to clean my optics more often. This is the largest house system we see the entire trip.

A thin chain limits how close we are allowed to get to this multi-level house. Notice the logs for a roof and the staggered building style. Some of the walls are mud over sticks to make them thinner and lighter. Older houses are stacked rocks making them very laborious to build compared to these compound walls.

Pottery shards are all over the place. These have been lifted out of the midden by others for show but it's not a good practice. This exposes them to more weather than needed. The larger the ruins, the larger the trash pile of broken pots and other 'junk' from the encampment. The pile is called the Midden. A midden is Scandinavian in origin and means something like 'shell heap' or day-to-day waste and is a valuable resource to archaeologists or me if I have some time to poke around.  

The midden as it really looks
After doing this for 3 years I'm staring to see how these people improved their skills and made better houses.

Still hard to get to but if you want to sleep knowing nobody is going to sneak up on you this may be about as good as it gets. You may think sleeping in this hobbit hole would be terrible but they made blankets from rabbit fur and clothes from turkey feathers as well as thick grass mats, so it was probably about as comfortable as my camp the night before because I use goose down as apposed to turkey down.

This is a kiva or a place to gather for ceremonial reasons but it's missing a roof.

I said they used turkey feathers for blankets and clothes and this is a turkey pen. They raised turkeys as farmers would. Archaeologists believe this is true because digs show heavy layers of turkey droppings down some 17 feet.

A deep hard bend in the canyon (remember we are 400 feet below the main rim of a huge canyon) creates this plunge pool but it's a water source for us and all the critters within the canyon so you don't get to swim or contaminate it in any way. Don't camp too close because the animals need to feel safe getting a drink and if we are right next to it they don't get to use it and may have to go miles to another source that may also have campers or dried up all together. The point is we have to share the space with other campers, critters, and pack out our trash because just like Galileo Galilei, the universe does not revolve around us contrary to how people behave.

On that note, get out and Ruin stuff for yourself and yourself alone.

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