Friday, October 23, 2015

PETFO: Walking rain, a peak inside.

Determined to preserve our regular morning routine, I'd packed the kettle, the coffee, the sugar and bowl, the french press, the cups, the whole kit, to make coffee and toast in the mornings.  Usually, whoever moans "coffee," first gets to stay in bed and the other has to get up and make it, but I was up early checking traps and weather, so I was on the job for gourmet coffee and toast  Plus delivered.

Art-Bird nest.

  We had re-arranged the furniture in the casita to make sense.  It's a lovely place.  Zero art hanging, the building itself is art.  Notice the sunrise blasting straight through the window to the West wall.  I tracked the morning sun with post-its along the kitchen hall.  There was a color-co-ordinated bird nest stuffed over the front door.  Great spot.  I could block out the bathroom window with a piece of foam-core and load sheet film after dark.

Laying out last night's mice for Ravens on the boulder and admiring the local flora.

Painted Desert Inn across the road.

Bentonite and busted stone tree trunks.

Fairly early I thought the rain was holding off and decided to walk the wash down the trail off Kachina Point.  Previous A-I-Rs had described a petroglyph site near Lithodenderon Wash.  A bottle of water and a pair of binoculars and I was dropping down the trail adjacent to the Painted Desert Inn.

Washed-out bridge from CCC days.

Found the petroglyphs.  This is the sign for "tourist with spring in his step."

Fresh coyote and old cow sign at the wash.  Flowing water above ground.  Rare.

The Petroglyph site.  The slabs had moved from their original positions over time.  Some carvings not accessible anymore.  Some were flipped, others under piles of stone.  At some point they must have been highly significant.  Still would be.  

This region was about the last to be depopulated by the Anasazi, after Chaco, after Mesa Verde.  Their civilization was at a highest peak.

Round trip was a couple of hours, made slower by wet conditions underfoot and much stopping to look. Measuring the country by footwalking around it.  Clogged up my shoes on the lower parts.  Back to the casita for lunch, a trip to the visitor center to check in with Ranger Woolford and go online to check mail.

Hiked across the desert to the actual Pintura Peak.  I'd looked at it from a distance and several viewpoints the day before.  This time I went through sagebrush to the top.  The whole mesa cap is an igneous layer over much older clays.  It was surprising to find the peak and nearby desert broken by large cracks ten to fifty yards long.  I dropped pebbles in.  Some were VERY deep with open spaces out of sight below.  Pintura Peak itself was split so badly I couldn't get to the summit block without a jump I couldn't commit to make- especially carrying the Hasselblad, pack and tripod....and I'm kind of a jump-making type.  Bat heaven below, I expect.

I managed to get into one of the cracks and found myself walking around rubble-filled corridors INSIDE the peak.  From several points I could look out on the desert below.

Showers working around the Northwest.

It was a VERY strange place.  I was hyper-vigilant for animal signs but looked like I had the place to myself.  Rabbit pellets only in an environment about as un-rabbit-like as you might imagine.  Not a scrap of bone nor a whiff of cat.  Not a flake of flint, petroglyph, paint or ceramic.  Deep clefts and black corners diving under boulders and leading off into darkness.  With a flashlight, gloves and some climbing shoes you could get into real trouble.

Access was sporty.  Not a tourist spot.  Grade 5.4 to get in and worse.  The cracks all drain to the outside and below.  Wind blasting around, rain walking past, but in general, I'd found my wind-shadow to shoot from.

From the outside off a little point to the South.

I'm off down a crack watching out the window, while around the mesa looking East Katie is waving her iphone at this monster.

Sunset as the clouds and wind finished out the day.

So far, a few rolls of Pan-F through the Hasselblad and seven mice.  A gallon of water.

Casita bunny.

No comments: