Steve has been telling me about Hovenweep National Monument for as long as I’ve known him. It’s his favorite. He hadn’t seen it for 26 years, though, and was anxious to know how “progress” had changed it. What he remembered was a sort of shack out in the middle of “nowhere” staffed by a few Park Service rangers and visiting archaeologists. The roads were unpaved, and the ruin sites widely spread apart. We discovered that the roads were updated, because our map dates from 1990. Signs clearly mark the way, but it is still far from any town. The rural school bus was just ahead of us, and free-grazing livestock lined the roadway.
The Visitor Center is new. And the rangers are young and have no memory or pictures of what it used to be like.
The roads connecting the ruin sites are still dirt roads, though. We elected to walk the trails instead, and set off on an 8-mile (round trip) desert walk…which ended up to be a 10-mile one because we veered off the path down a wash and ended up at a barbed wire fence and then retraced our steps. That was an interesting part of the journey of awareness as well. How do you feel when you suspect you’re off the trail? How does your mental state effect your pace, your energy? What does a well-traveled path offer you psychologically and physically? When we had completed this hike, which was the longest of our trip, I felt truly exhilarated. My face was pretty red, I had gnat bites on my calves (that haven’t faded yet), and my knees and hips were a bit sore, but I was thrilled! This desert is a vibrant ecosystem, hosting many interesting plants and animals…including around 2500 human animals at one point, about 750 years ago. Have a look:
Beautiful Priscilla. I’m always amazed by the Puebloan architecture. That is quite the hike. My partner Francis enjoys shorter walks but she absolutely loves the desert. Before we were together I used to enjoy longer “day hikes.” it is always an uncanny feeling to get off the beaten path, and sometimes difficult to retrace your steps. Glad you were able to do so.
Following a wash is pretty easy, especially when no flash floods are imminent. They are easier to notice than trails, which is why cairns are so useful. But they can get washed out. That wasn’t the case here, though. I misread a post arrow and the hand-drawn map.
Lovely for Steve to go back after so long. I imagine it hadn’t changed much ? Apart from the new build which seems sympathetically done
Well, much hadn’t changed, but “progress” keeps creeping in as population grows. It’s something to keep an eye on, for sure.