Join this annual BLM ranger-led hike and decide for yourself why the ancestors placed this site atop a mesa in the 13th century. And ponder even greater mysteries, which become clearer onsite.
Visit with respect (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelidlknksI) and tread lightly over ancient beaches, lagoons, and oysters. We will observe the rich images the ancestors left hewn in the cliffs. We will observe the sunrise surprise - a sun marker previously discovered by this meetup. And after taking in the beauty all around we will descend off the mesa top. This is a nearly 6 foot cliff. It's a rare walk through a lesser known but equally rich time in this part of the world. (http://www.camelotintl.com/world/)
HISTORY How much did the 3 southwestern cultures affect these pueblos through which we will venture? Hohokam is waning to the west, Mogollon is in flux to the south and the most familiar, Chaco part 2 (Aztec), is waxing to the north. With great appreciation to those who have shared their studies, to the BLM archaeologists, and to the modern descendants - we will walk from a Puebloan rock art site, then to a mesa-top Pueblo III site and, to other sites if time and temperature permit. We will end asking why did this rich and long lived spot wane in El Malpais NCA. Equally important for we moderns, how could they have flourished with no fossil fuels to power their relatively high population? What did they know about water that we dont?
TIMETABLE Depart at 5 AM sharp from the BLM Joe Skeen Camp Ground entrance at State Road 117. If you're late, they won't wait. Arrive quietly to avoid disturbing sleeping campers. Refrain from driving into the campground. Leave excess vehicles at the campground entry road, not the campground. Those who camp here overnight should arise quietly and drive quietly out of the campground and down to the highway for the 5AM departure. Carpool and arrive at the trail head by 5:30 AM. Expect 5 actual miles of hiking - the horizontal distance is closer to 3 miles. Expect total vertical elevation change of at least 1500 feet (total ups and downs) at an elevation average of 7300 feet ASL. Return to the vehicles before noon.
FORMALITIES Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Howard Zanhiser's WIlderness Act. This hike is in the Cebolla Wilderness which contains precious cultural, biological, and geological treasures. We will limit ourselves to 25 voyagers to lessen our impact. Please refrain from signing up for others. EACH ATTENDEE WILL SIGN UP FOR THEMSELVES. We will refrain from collecting anything, or from treading on ancient walls or rubble. It will be easy - we walk with smiling awareness. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RelidlknksI) BLM El Malpais NCA hikes are open to all and free of pets, firearms, and intoxicants. (Not recommended for kids under 12 or folks with impaired gait.)
REGISTERING FOR THIS HIKE MEANS YOU AGREE TO STAY WITHIN SIGHT AND HEARING OF THE GROUP, OR ADVISE THE LEADER IF YOU CANT.
SURVIVAL Starting at dawn means chilly times - below 40F - AND a cool day's hike that escapes the afternoon heat up to 90F! The secret to a happy hike includes a well hydrated body. Tank up on water before hand. If the body seeks a privy bush from time to time - good - it's fully hydrated. Just pick a hike buddy and let them know of your venture. Loose breathable clothing sheds solar heat. Shoes and long pants should be sturdy. (Skilled hikers that wear shorts and/or sandals are responsible for avoiding injury and thus not slowing the hike. Please maintain great levels of vigilance from the many pricklys, pokeys, & jaggedies. Bring a snack and/or breakfast/brunch. Wear a wide brimmed hat and sun protection.