|Pueblo ruins on Frijoles Canyon floor|
Tourist come here to discover the enchantment of this land. They will do just that even at the very entrance of Bandelier. Its natural beauty sprawls from the high mesa top to the low canyon bottom. Just as the Ancestral Puebloan's discovered this lands power five centuries ago so will tourists today.
|Climbing into a cliff dwelling|
Experiencing these dwellings has helped me to imagine and empathize how these ancient peoples managed to sustain life in this rocky realm. Picturing the ingenuity of creating adobe bricks, then the toils of hauling them around and up cliffs exhausted me. A 1920s reconstructed cliff house only amazed me more about the structures that were built up so high and into a cliff.
The most amazing dwelling our group experienced was Alcove House, one-hundred-forty-eight feet up the cliff. Dr. Carriker and Kaiser's children flew up the ladders without hesitation while I anxiously went step-by-step. One-hundred feet higher from my start I did found a method that eased my anxiety. I convinced myself to only look forward while groping for the next secure handle. A few more deep breaths and I was sitting in Alcove House. Mysterious wonder is my best attempt at describing this dwelling. It makes sense why there was a ceremonial kiva placed at the edge of this dwelling. Gazing out onto the surrounding cliffs, one can feel the power of earth. It felt magical!
Now we had to return to solid ground. The descent was even more intense than the ascent. This time I had to look down in order to make a start down the ladder. I saw exactly one-hundred-forty-eight feet down to the canyon bottom. I took another long, deep breath and I began climbing down. When I reached the bottom I basked in the grace of the secure ground-floor and comforting forest surrounding me again. The wilderness was precious. I found myself noticing it more having just been so far up and away from it. Bandelier houses over nine-thousand species of wildflowers. Though I did not witness them all, the trail seemed to be filled with many of the varieties. The wildlife was not abundant, but our group did get the chance to spot a couple of mule deer gazing along the canyon. While watching them I listened to the calming flow of Frijoles Creek and I totally understood why people flock here year after year.