March 19, 2016
March 19, Saturday
Around the apartments there are amazingly cute rabbits hopping around looking for food. I managed to get a few photos one day, this one stopped to take a look at me, decided I wasn’t much of a threat and continued to munch on plants. I see them racing across the road in the canyon late at night and so far have managed to avoid hitting one.
Last Sunday I hiked out to Peñasco Blanco. The sites that contain large structures are referred to as great houses and Peñasco Blanco must have been impressive in its day. As you approach from the floor of the canyon it sits high atop the West Mesa and you climb about 200 feet to reach it. I made a plan to hike the 3.7 miles to the site about two hours before sunset, shoot for a few hours and return to the parking log around 12:30 am. One big worry was the hike back in the dark and climbing down the mesa, but the moon was still up as I walked, faintly lighting the trail. Another was carrying all my equipment plus extra clothes for the cold, water, food and the radio to keep in touch with the rangers. But all worked out fine.
The previous Sunday I did the hike during the day and wrote in my notes, “big, sprawling pueblo”. It is apparently mostly unexcavated so the original house must have been huge. It is the favorite of some of the rangers and I can see why. The sunset that evening was quite spectacular, I posted one of the shots in the last blog. The golden rays of the sun on the brick and the mesa in the distance in this photo is hard to describe. This view is to the east and south, looking back down Chaco canyon towards the other pueblos and the visitor center.
The nearly first quarter moon was covered off and on by clouds, making photographing the Peñasco challenging. Sometimes the clouds would add some drama to the photos. Around 10:30 pm I was done and gathered my things to leave. As I put on my backpack I reached for the waist strap to buckle it and discovered the right strap was missing. I couldn’t figure out where it was. I took off the pack to inspect it and saw it looked as if the strap were torn off at the base where it attaches to the pack. I don’t remember catching it on a plant or the corner of a wall as I walked around. It seemed odd since if an animal had chewed off the strap, it did it without disturbing the whole pack, which was left exactly upright where I had placed it on a flat rock. The mysteries of Chaco.