More Puebla, they cried! More hiking, cliffs and ladders!
As I noted yesterday, one of the visitors’ areas of Bandelier National Memorial is located at some distance from the primary, well known spot with the towering Ladders of Terror (to which Michael actually asked to return today. No.). It’s about 11 miles from that main section, but only about 3 miles from where you park in White Rock.
It’s called Tsankawi, which might mean something about “people living between cliffs,” but no one is really sure.
Tsankawi is very different from Bandelier: not as dramatic, perhaps, but just as interesting and certainly less nerve-racking for a parent. I actually liked it a bit better – it was less crowded, less developed – and even though you could see the highway and glimpses of Los Alamos from the top of the mesa, it just felt more isolated.
I have to tell you, though, that while Tsankawi was always on my list, I was given pause by some warnings I read and heard about the narrowness of the trail. Someone said to me: “Oh, it’s only 18 inches wide at some points – and there’s a sheer drop! I don’t know if I would take them!”
(The identity Them needing no explanation, ever.)
Well, that warning was overblown and unnecessary. I might not take a disobedient, willful 2-year old with greasy hands who was prone to sudden movements, but really – anyone else? Fine.
(By the way, on the trail here at Tsankawi, I met a woman with a (perhaps) 18-month old who said she’d carried the child on her back up and down those ladders at Bandelier….)
Anyway, as I said yesterday, you being Tsankawi at a parking lot right off a state highway. There’s some basic information and facilities at the entrance, and then you just start walking!
The site was a place of settlement for Ancestral Puebla peoples from perhaps the 15th through part of the 17th centuries. It is hypothesized that they eventually moved away because of drought. Unlike Bandelier, the site is unexcavated, at the request of the descendants of the original inhabitants. It makes for a rather haunting experience.
What Tsankawi is known for are the trails up past the caves to the top of the mesa – the inhabitants farmed the land below, had structures in the caves, and a village on top of the mesa.
The trails are ancient and well-worn by both those now-ghostly footsteps and subsequent erosion.
To walk in the footsteps of those men,women and children, to see what they saw from below and above (sans buildings and people, of course) gave me, again, a much-expanded understanding of life there.
Trails like troughs worn in stone? Fun.
You can still see petroglyphs, faintly etched.
(And…I’m thinking (today – Wednesday, with 2 more full days)…that we might skip the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque. We’ve seen our petroglyphs and there are enough questions for me about how many at the other place are auathentic and how many are of, er, more recent origin to make me wonder if it’s worth the time. We’ll see.)
The view from the top of the mesa – we imagined in ancient times, smoke rising from many of these mesas, revealing other communities.
What a day! Well..only a part of it. Because you see on that same day, we climbed our mini-mesa in our rental’s back yard, went to Chimayo, Taos, the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, and drove along the Rio Grande in said gorge…