Friday, February 28, 2014

All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon - Three Kiva Pueblo

Still have that map from when I began this series? I'm going to continue moving northward on Montezuma Canyon Road - CR 146 for six more miles to Three Kiva Pueblo (seven miles from the CR 206/CR146 junction). One of the things I didn't mention before is how much Roy and I have begun to so enjoy this area, it borders on love. If we had the finances to move and live along this road, we would do it in less than a heartbeat; it's not just the landscape, but the overall atmosphere that draws us near and embraces us.  Maybe that is why all roads keep leading us to Montezuma Canyon, we're meant to be there...anyway, enough of the mush and lets get to the meat.

Oh, I better explain something; when you're looking up mileage for getting to places, well, it can be a little confusing.  On maps, the mileage is geared towards vehicles, a mile is a mile is a mile; straight forward.  On hiking sites, the mileage is geared towards how long it takes a person to walk somewhere; or that seems to be how many write their experiences up as.  For Roy and myself, we travel via "mesa miles"; while the odometer gives us the actual mile is a map mile; time wise, a "mesa mile" equals whenever the heck we get somewhere from stopping to take photos, hike around and explore.  Guess you can call the "mesa mile" a combination of vehicle travel and adventure spirit.  In other words, don't ask me how long it takes to get somewhere; I'll tell you the map miles, but other than that, you're on your own.  Back to our regularly scheduled writing...

The six miles between the second set of rock art and the pueblo is filled with a twisting, turning road of beautiful landscape full of mesas, buttes, rock formations, cliff dwellings; even the ranches and roaming cattle create the classic picture. 

Same formation, different view up close

Across from the above formation, you'll see a large flat faced boulder with black markings on it.  The markings are simple desert varnish, no rock art; you'll drive next to it on the road and see how huge the boulder is.

The river beds are dry and deep; I wonder what secrets are buried in that sandy soil and packed walls?

Map time; the third arrow, pointing east, is at 4.5 miles; there is a ranch on the eastern side with cliffs in the background.  Look for a wide cave opening which at first might just look like a bunch of broken rocks inside it...nope, using my zoom lens, I found a dwelling there.  Across from the area is a beautiful open area leading to hills, but wait; look behind you at the buttes you passed by and probably didn't even notice.

2.5 map miles to go and welcome to Three Kiva Pueblo; don't blink, you'll miss the turn off!  While there is a sign directly outside the Pueblo's wooden fence, there is nothing on the roadway to indicate its location; you either see it, or you drive by it.  Before going up the stone walkway and exploring, stop and look around, drink in all that beauty; stop and listen, the silence is deafening.

Three Kiva Pueblo

Three Kiva Pueblo is maintained by the BLM; they have available a simple informational pamphlet at their field offices, or at welcome centers.  This is a well preserved Puebloan settlement, hence the care given to it as opposed to the Browns Canyon Ruins. A map to better help you get the lay of the rooms.

Kive #3 is located in the front of the pueblo, Kiva #2 is to the right; both have not been excavated.  As you continue up the walkway on the left side, the "rooms" ahead are the "bins" labeled on the map.  A short climb upwards past them will bring you to solid dirt and Kiva #1.

Kiva #1 is very well preserved and an impressive structure; it is, though, completely abandoned.  What do I mean by that?  I have visited many Kivas and felt...something; even my photos have given credence of this feeling with the visitation of an "orb".   Not so for Three Kiva; while the sun's rays give it brilliant light, no one is home.

Next stop, lower level; be careful climbing down as it is very dark until you set foot on the dirt and allow your eyes to acclimate.

My photos do not give the interior of the Kiva full justice; the workmanship is incredible, even the interlacing of the wooden beams of the roof.  Unless you actually climb down into it, you will not get the full scope of it all.

Niche behind lower right of ladder

Bench Hole, Reflector, Firepit

Foot Drum, Firepit

Outside, walk around the back area for the living and/or storage rooms; you'll also see the opening for the ventilation shaft.                
Ventilation Shaft, Roofing Visible beyond.

Going up around the other side, you will be walking over where Kiva #2 is buried and pass by, possibly, more storage bins.
Now, if you only read the pamphlet or most guidebook material of this area, this would be your final destination on Montezuma Canyon Road - CR 146.  You would more than likely turn around and go back the way you, wrong, don't do that!  CR 146 goes all the way through to Route 191 and comes out only 5 miles from the Monticello Welcome Center.  What I have written about so far: Browns Canyon Ruins, Perkins Road - CR 206, both sites of Rock Art on CR-146 and Three Kiva Ruins is just one option, that being coming up north on Route 191 and beginning in the Blanding area.
My next write ups (there will be two) will be of beginning at the Monticello Welcome Center, traveling south for those five miles and starting a most wonderful adventure down Montezuma Canyon Road.  Again, beautiful landscape full of homesteads, houses built within sandstone hills, wineries, cave and cliff ruins, more rock would miss it all if you didn't stay on this marvelous road.  Stay tuned folks, this was only the appetizer sampler...
Mary Cokenour

Thursday, February 27, 2014

All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon - Slam on the Brakes, There's More Rock Art.

View of CR146 from Rock Art ledges.
Today's write up is simply a half mile up the road from the rock art and carvings at the corral.  Keep the map handy that I posted yesterday; that second arrow pointing westward is where we are.  Once again, the climb up and down to the stone walls was fairly easy; a natural stairway, or perhaps one designed by ancient people, but now overgrown, exists.  Once up to the walls, the walk across is several hundred feet, the artwork extends that far! 

From the roadway, "The Tall People" is what will catch your eye at first; this area of artwork is painted on and clearly different in style than the other panels.

"The Tall People"

Look to the right of "The Tall People" and do a little walking to find "The Hunt"; a grouping of Elk and Buffalo being hunted by three individuals on horseback, with bows and arrows.  There is also a flute player and another humanoid maybe holding a basket.

"The Hunt"

Nearby (lower right to "The Hunt") is the spectacular "Horse's Head", it's tongue seeming to be drawing an insect (scorpion?) towards it.  At first I thought it was only the head, but on closer examination,  it's possible that there was also a body depicted.  However chipping of the rock wall, mold and algae have destroyed it; this would have been a rather large drawing.

"Horse's Head"

Looks like this lone young Elk was able to hide from the hunters and watch helplessly as his herd was hunted down.

"Lone Elk"

Then we come to "The Panel", a jumble of animals, humanoids and geometric shapes, which is farther along to the right of the "Horse's Head" and at a lower level.

"The Panel"

There is some artwork closer to the roadway though, if you look at the first photo of the SUV parked off the road, there is a jutting wall to the upper right.  Just as you turn that corner, look upwards slightly; you'll have to stop your vehicle, if you blink, you miss it.  It took us two tries before we found them; basically they are further away from the main panels and didn't think to keep our eyes open for more.  This depiction of birds is something that is a rarity; they quite possibly represent the "Great Blue Heron" which can be seen from Alaska to northern South American.  In Utah, it is often seen at lakes, ponds, rivers and marshes; so seeing it in Montezuma Canyon would not have been unusual at all.  Montezuma Creek runs throughout the canyon and there are many areas for the water to pool to create a habitat for the Heron.

"The Birds", possible the Great Blue Heron.

Keep on looking though while in this area, there are several more drawings nearby; the lower panels look insect like, notice how the one on the right has five digits while the typical number is three.

...and that is the gist of what we found in this area, this time.   As I mentioned before, we've been to Montezuma Canyon four times, and each time we find more than we had seen before.  That is, what we have seen from the roadway; who knows what treasures are hidden in the abundant number caves, alcoves, and canyon offshoots all along this amazing roadway?

Yes, I will be giving you more...

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon - Rock Art and Carvings at the Corral.

This is the beginning of a series of write ups on the roads and trails between Monticello and Blanding on the eastern side of Route 191. Why "All Roads Lead to Montezuma Canyon"? Simple reason, it seems to be where we continually end up. In two months, we have been to Montezuma Canyon four times and only the first time was planned; the rest simply just happened.  As much as I would like to do the write ups in the order they occurred, it isn't feasible; our trips were convoluted adventures involving anything from "how did we get here?" to "if we live, I'm going to so hurt you!".


Since I've already written about Browns Canyon Ruins and Perkins Road - CR 206; I'm going to make that left turn option onto Montezuma Canyon Road - CR 146.  Only a half mile going north (the first arrow, pointing upwards, on the map), on the left hand side, will be a dirt trail with a corral at the end of it; watch out for those cow patties!  It is the rock walls to the left, and even behind the corral, that are to be your main lines of focus though.  Lets go left...

There are substantial layers of ledges going all the way up to the mesa (almost like a natural stairway); hand and foot holds aplenty.  However, there is also sand and gravel, so slippage is very possible as my ripped jeans and layer of skin missing from my left knee can attest to.

There were some smallish caves with signs of packrat nesting; many boulders were cracked in half and you could make your way either between both sections, or around them.  This is where fantasy takes hold and you wonder if, going behind one of these huge boulders won't lead you to an opening, hidden from road view, to "a land lost in time" beyond.

It would also have been helpful if I had remembered to wear my hiking/climbing boots instead of sneakers which have poor traction on sand and gravel.  Lesson learned!

Then there were the "mud nests" tucked into the shadier underneath of many of the ledges.  They very much resembled the mud nests made by wasps in the eaves of roofing, but these were much larger.  These beautifully built structures belonged to "Mud Swallows", or more precisely, "Cliff Swallows. These small birds nest in colonies, with nests often touching each other. Each individual nest looks like a gourd, with a small hole serving as the entrance; the mud plastering the nest from behind and above.   Being January when we were there, the nests were empty; but I bet it's a pretty busy community during the warmer months from the amount of nests we spotted above us.

While the rock art is just noticeable from the dirt trail, up close and personal is more amazing.  We found, not just figures and symbols scratched onto the rock face, but carvings; a first time find for both of us!  The rock art and carvings in Montezuma Canyon  have been dated back from 100 B.C. to 1150 A.D. These eras of time include the Anasazi whom are believed by archaeologists to have developed from the “Archaic” culture; groups of nomadic hunter-gatherers.  Also the Puebloan Dwellers who gradually moved from large communities to smaller settlements, such as Three Kiva Pueblo which I'll write about in this series.

Flute Player hypnotizes a Bird while Humanoid Figures Dance.

Getting back down to level ground, we made our way over to the corral to check out the walls behind it.  Sure enough, there was more artwork to be found there; the zoom lens ensured we'd get photos without having to trespass.  Even though no signs were posted about "private property" and "no trespassing", we weren't going beyond the boundary of the fencing.

Going back to the map above, the next section of artwork will be about another half mile up the road; and that will be my next write up about breath taking, Montezuma Canyon.

Mary Cokenour