Awe in Bandelier National Monument

Pueblo ruins on Frijoles Canyon floor
Only an hour drive from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument can be found riding along the ancient Jemez Mountains. Bandelier is considered to be one of the premier sites where the Ancestral Puebloans began settling into an agricultural based lifestyle from a nomadic one. This site is named after Mr. Adolph Bandelier who published extensive observations about the natural beauties that enchanted him and the ancient life he uncovered. His works intrigued other scholars to go and discover more in the area. Unfortunately trappers and loggers were also attracted. This caused preservationists like Edgar Hewitt, a close follower of Mr. Bandelier, to convince the government to declare the Pajarito Pleateau and Frijoles Canyon area as historically significant. Bandelier National Monument was declared by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. This helped preserve the history of the land for the future guests who would one day be visiting by the thousands.

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.
Although there are only ruins left, the National Park Service provides great trails for guests to discover.
Our group self-toured the trails using only the park's guide booklet. The booklet aided us along the trails leading through the ruins of the Ancestral Puebloans.
We stood in the allies of their pueblos on the canyon floor. These particular dwellings went up four stories high and housed up to five-hundred people. The rooms were very small and we interpreted that we were only witnessing what would have been storage rooms.
Climbing into a cliff dwelling

Next, we were led up and into the cliff walls. Here we experienced the dwellings in cut into the cliffs. Ladders that the Ancestral Puebloans would have used were laid against the walls for us to climb higher up the cliff. Moving along, rubbing close against the walls, the tuff showed its softness leaving white streaks on my cloths.

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.

View from Alcove House

Bandelier was astounding. Wanderlust overtook me upon arrival. I can only dream of digesting every step I took in the realm of Bandelier National Monument.

-Beau Lemoine                                           

1 comment:

Jane Bulliard said...

Atta boy, Beau... and remember that your pop was there first! Enjoy and make lots of memories because you will be back!