We spent some time gazing into each other’s eyes.
After making the long and lovely drive up to Chapin Mesa, I stopped to see Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde’s largest (and most popular) cliff dwelling.
Tours closed in the Spring this year due to renovation work, but I was content to admire from afar.
The previous day, I booked a Ranger-led tour of Balcony House.
Billed as the ‘most adventurous’ tour, the trail winds along and up 60-feet of open cliff faces against the perilous canyon walls and includes 3 vertical ladder-climbs. One ladder is 32-feet high and straight up.
My come-and-go acrophobia wasn’t going to stop me from seeing this cliff dwelling. Thankfully, it didn’t, though there were some treacherous moments.
But the heart-pounding ascent was worth every breathtaking step!
Ranger Bailey explains about how the building came to be and gives a glimpse into the daily lives of these miraculous architects.
Balcony House got its name from these innovative structures (below) used as balconies for single-family dwellings. From a complex building method using mortar, wood, and tree bark, the balconies survive here because of the particularly sheltered nature of Balcony House. The wood supports seen here are building material that is 700 years-old.
One of the physical challenges of this dwelling is worming your way through a 12-foot long 18-inch wide tunnel. The speculation is that the tunnel was defensive in nature.
(I told this nice lady above that I have a travel blog and that her ass will almost surely be featured on it. She laughed and replied just make sure you spell my name right. So, here ya go, Mari-with-an-i. Thanks for agreeing to be the butt of the joke.)
Later I hike the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail to see Balcony House from across the massive canyon. You can barely see another 2 tours in progress, though I zoom-in as much as I can.
Reluctant to leave this magical place, I make one more stop into the Visitors Center to have a last look at the superb pottery once made here.
Imagine the thrill of working to preserve these beautiful artifacts!
Our knowledge about the Ancestral Pueblo People is incomplete. What we do know is that they were skilled artists, builders, and farmers. Their vibrant civilization and accomplishments are supreme expressions of human culture in the Americas.