Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Geology and Ancient Ruins

This post makes me wish I had a better camera, so that you could see the details.  I left the picture properties larger, in hopes that you will be able to enlarge the pictures to a size to see more. I'm finding by studying pictures I've taken, that I discover things I didn't notice when in the location looking right at them! 
In traveling a back road near Montezuma's Well we have noticed mesas with what appears to be rectangular cut rocks spiraling around them like ancient walkways to the top! The rocks look so symmetrical in shape and alignment that we can't imagine them to be anything, but cut and placed there by humans! We have heard of Hopi mesas near Tuba City, Arizona. It apparently is a Hopi custom to build their communities on mesas.
We decided we had to take a hike up the mesa to explore a little closer! I was amazed at how easy the walk was, as there seemed to be natural trails that increased in elevation quite gently!
Here is a closer look at the rocks that make up the edging of each level. What do you think? Are they natural, man made, an integration of  both? Blows my mind! They are so large you have to wonder how ancient natives would have transported them there. I read about a geological phenomena call cliff and bench topography where through erosion a rock cliff is created and then a flat level called a bench. That could be part of it, but some of these rocks seem to be placed on top the ground and I can't get over the rectangular shape!
Here's the top! It's so flat that one could easily put a house here today!
Roy and I are practicing taking selfies, so that you can see our smiling faces together once in awhile.
Looking down the mesa you can see rock edged levels that may have held pueblos or crops.
They had great views!
This is looking from the top of the mesa down to the road we walked up from and across the road to another mesa. At first it just looks like a bunch of rocks scattered around, but still with most having that strange man made looking rectangular shape. It wasn't until I enlarged this picture and studied the pattern of rocks that I began to see what appears to be rock lined walkways, rectangular foundations, and even a round foundation that may have been a community ceremonial area like we've seen at other native community ruins. I hope the blog will allow you to enlarge the picture enough to study the rock patterns. If not, possibly downloading the picture will make it viewable in a larger size. Keep in mind that some pueblos are huge rectangular structures that are then divided into individual apartments. Roy and I intended to get back out to this location and explore a little closer, but unfortunately didn't. It will definitely be on our list of explorations for when we are back in the Camp Verde area! I have since read that the Verde valley is full of ancient ruins! These ruins are somewhat unsettling in that it feels like discovering something as foreign to us as signs of alien life! 
This is the view from another side of the mesa! The large rocks I'm standing on seem to be natural to the cliff and bench topography. Check out the distant mesa with an interesting rock formation on top and the rock lined levels leading to the top!
Check out the details in this picture by enlarging it or downloading it to get more details! The rock lined pathways are amazing and we had to get a closer look! We hiked though this valley and up to the mesa in the picture. We couldn't believe the ease of the walk and on a day that we weren't feeling our most fit!
This is on the mesa pathway heading to the top! You can see to the left of the picture the raised area that curves toward the peak! It all feels so intended and natural, but there's that haunting question of could it really be!
This is the top of a rock lined ridge. As rocky as it appears it was so easy to traverse and guided us along as if walking the path of the ancients to the peak!
This was an interesting plant along the trail. It looks a bit like a plant that has lost its leaves along the many stems, but in fact all those barren looking stems are long pointed spikes!
This is the view right below the top and look how invitingly easy it looks. As we climbed upwards the climb was made easier by finding what seemed to be narrow, but natural pathways and even tiny step-like toe holds for the climb! It was at this point that Roy was wishing he had brought his mini-backpack, but we had no idea we would have the stamina and interest to walk and climb this far! Our new rule is that the backpack goes with us on every hike!
I call these toe cactuses as they are just at the right height for stabbing toes through the shoes of unobservant hikers!
Oh, I wanted to go further and make it to the top, but the rocks were getting loose, and hiking further around the mesa to get around this barrier was more than we wanted to take on!
Check out this rock formation. It was just below the cliff face. At first glance it just appears to be some rocks that have fallen, but I noticed the triangular opening to be like the entrance into a tent. On the left side of the picture is a flat rock wedged and plastered in some fashion to create what appears to be a small table. I've often felt I have an eye for things that aren't quite in keeping with nature. Upon closer inspection of the triangular opening I noticed that it had been wallowed down quite a ways making for a nice habitat. It did cross my mind that I might meet a cougar, but I didn't see any tracks around. Note the loose dirt at the entrance like any den. In the bottom of the wallow were a couple of thick fairly modern front car side windows. Of course I was repulsed to see this junk in there, but later had to ponder at length why it was there and how it came to be there! This isn't a location where trash would be dumped and it wouldn't have found its way into the little den in such good shape had it been thrown off the top! Did someone live there at one time and utilized the glass in some way? I didn't notice the triangular mudded enclosure on the right side of the picture while I was there as it blended in so naturally. Now that I look at it in the picture I wonder how I could not have noticed it, as it is so obviously rocked and mudded in!!! Wow! What's in there....artifacts...gold dubloons...a body? Our minds were racing from wondering, but this is why there are laws about not removing artifacts and the destruction of ancient ruins. If you look at the curve of the ground under the rocks, it appears that there could be the wallow on the right through the opening and then possibly access to the other side of the center rock. By mudding closed the outside opening on the left, a second room is added to the living space.  As to what is inside, I've concluded that given the car windows being present that someone in fairly recent times has used the rock cover as a shelter and would have discovered what is behind the mysterious mudded wall.     
 Wow! What an adventure! 
This is the community of Waalpi. It is one of the communities on the three mesas that make up the Hopi Indian Reservation near Tuba City, AZ. I include this picture to show you an example of the cliff and bench topography and although you probably can't see the details, there are large rectangular cut stones lining a portion of the road into the community! The Hopi communities have some original pueblos from ancient times that are still occupied today! The people choose to live by their tribal traditions and without electricity and running water like their ancestors! Tours of the communities can be arranged through native guides and there are websites online to do so.