Posts Tagged ‘Mesa Verde National Park’

Magic at Mesa Verde and Along the San Juan Skyway

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Inside a cave perched high on a cliff face in Mesa Verde National Park, where remnants of rooms built from stone have stood for more than 800 years, I got down on my hands and knees to crawl through a dark tunnel only a few feet high and barely wide enough for my shoulders. I crept forward on all fours like a baby in order to follow an exit from a cave dwelling known as Balcony House, which Ancestral Puebloans built under the overhang of a massive rock. Soon — thankfully — I reached a point where a shaft of light filtered in and the passageway opened up nearly high enough to stand, and I gazed up at a perch where the park’s archeologists theorize a person would have sat guard to stop or allow those who tried to enter the pueblo. Then the tunnel narrowed to a crawl space again, and I took a deep breath to keep claustrophobia at bay before pushing through to reach sunlight and a spectacular view of a canyon.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from our trip to Mesa Verde, but I didn’t expect this: to squeeze between rock crevices and climb up 30-foot ladders, and then to walk through the homes and gathering places where people thrived and a society developed to surprising sophistication in this spot for some 700 years, around 600 – 1300 AD. Never before had I experienced such an intimate and not-entirely-safe visit to a national or state park. (more…)