8x10" Oil on Canvas
Yesterday we toured the breathtaking "Cliff Palace" rock dwellings where the first ancestral peoples in this area were hunters and gatherers some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. A rigorous descent and assent beginning from the top of the mesa down very steep and narrow rock stairs and wooden ladders. Here are some photos. If you have never been to this archeological site, it is well worth the brutal heat, steep grades of windy switchbacks and difficult camping conditions.
Sadly to say, all of the mountains here are stripped of tall green trees only underbrush provides color. What once were forested mountains now appear as a graveyard full of stark bleached white skeletal remains of the trees due to natural wildfires caused by lightening strikes. Everywhere I look, twisted bones of flailing arms and fingers grasping toward the sky as if pleading to be rescued in their last moments from the inevitable fate of destruction. In the late 1200s, the Pueblos in these same mountains suddenly abandoned their dwellings for some unknown reason, perhaps choked out by the fires of drought.
Posting and phone service have been iffy at best the last couple of days along without any electricity, air conditioning or running water, so we are heading for the higher mountains to the north.