March 29, 2016
March 29, Tuesday
I’ve gotten to know Cliff and Jane, a very nice couple from northern California, who have been volunteers at Chaco for several years. They are our neighbors in the next duplex and arrived a couple of weeks ago. Cliff does a really informative tour of Chetro Ketl and Jane has been assessing the park ‘app’ for tablets and smartphones. They’ve been very helpful with tips about Chaco and shopping and eating in Farmington. Cliff is a photographer as well and came out with me for two nights in the canyon. I was setting up a shot and got one of him in action at Pueblo del Arroyo.
On Sunday I told Jim, who is chief of natural resources here, I was interested in photographing Pueblo Alto, which is on top of the mesa on the north side of the canyon. He had also been interested in going up there at night and asked if he could come along. Normally it’s a steep hike to the mesa top then a relatively flat trail to the site. Jim said there is an access road for rangers and preservation crews so he got his heavy duty four wheel drive truck and we drove up to Alto. After a really rough road, we parked and hiked in the last ½ mile or so. At alto, it’s really alto. It’s one of the highest parts in the park and you can see 360 degrees from the pueblo site. The bad news is the glow of the towns is seen but also lights, many fairly bright, of drilling operations outside the park. In the past few years oil and gas drilling has increased with many wells burning off excess gas. At night these flames are bright lights that can be seen for miles. Or some of the drill sites are lit, much brighter than an outdoor house light.
I photographed the ‘new’ Alto site, a structure built after what’s called ‘old’ Alto, looking north. You can see the Big Dipper and the two stars in the ‘dipper’ pointing to Polaris the North Star. Pueblo Alto was a junction of several prehistoric roads, some aligned due north/south. Wonder what the ancient Chacoans would think of the string of lights along the 21st century horizon?
Today is my last full day at Chaco and it’s been an incredible experience. I’ll continue the blog for several more installments with the work from the canyon.