|Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park|
As I had mentioned in the previous post, I was on vacation last week, doing some traveling around and hiking through a part of Colorado that I had never visited. My ultimate goal is to experience all of the wonderful places in the southwest US.
Our group started out with 2 days near Cortez, and then went north up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, East over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and then west to the Vallecito Reservoir near Durango for our final hike, making a big circle of about 1000 miles by vehicle. Lots of driving. We also crossed the continental divide twice, and went over several high mountain passes in the San Juan Mountains, and saw lots of gorgeous scenery all along the way. Coincidentally, the Cortez area temperatures hovered around 100° Fahrenheit at the beginning of last week, so it was nice to spend time in air conditioned vehicles and hotel rooms during the heat wave. Nevertheless, the first 2 days of our group’s trip was in that high heat, and everyone did a good job of drinking lots of water and taking breaks in the shade when possible.
On day 2, we traveled south of Cortez to the Ute Tribal Park to tour the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans. These ancient ones lived in SE Utah and SW Colorado for at least 2000 years until they left those areas around 1280 AD. The cliff dwellings that they inhabited before they departed were sandstone dwellings built into rock alcoves that were inaccessible to invaders and easy to protect. Because of their locations shielded from the effects of bad weather, these structures are still standing today at the Ute Tribal Park and also at Mesa Verde National Park. It is magical and sometimes quite eerie to visit places where there was once so much activity, but have been unoccupied for many many years.
Our Ute guide Ricky took us down a series of ladders and steep steps to reach the cliff dwellings. As he guided us from site to site along the trail beneath the overhanging rock ledge, he shared his life story and native teachings with the group. He spoke about his connection to the Great Spirit and the nature kingdoms, walking the beauty way on the surface of the earth, and honoring and respect for all of life. He spoke about the spiritual power of the Sun Dance, which he participated in every year, and the native cosmology of the Four Directions. He also graced us with a chant in his native language communicating with the nature spirits of the land.
Imagine standing in the shade near an ancient dwelling and listening to these Native American teachings. At that point, I had a big aha moment. I realized that we were being downloaded with the energy of the information being imparted. Of course, everyone in our group would have absorbed that imprinting in a different way, so most would have had no idea of what was going on. I did mention it to one of the ladies later, and she was also aware of what was happening.
One thing does stick in my mind, and I am not sure if anyone else got it. Several times, Ricky mentioned that time was growing short and we had better prepare by resolving issues and getting straight with our creator. Now, I do not know if this was his insight, or the teachings of the Native Americans. Certainly the Hopi’s do believe that our time here is growing short, and that we will eventually transition off of the planet.
By the time we climbed back out of the canyon, the temperature was a bit above 100°. Whew! After lunch in the shade and the viewing of a very significant rock art panel on the way back to the entrance to the Tribal Park, it had been a very full day. Fortunately, the week started to cool down a bit, so the weather for the rest of the hikes was warm but very pleasant. All in all, a great trip. Below are some photos from our great adventure.
|Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park|
|Lion Canyon Ruin, Ute Tribal Park|
|Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park|
|Picture Rock, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park|
|Great Sand Dunes National Park|
|Great Sand Dunes National Park|