Thursday, July 31

20 Days Of Vacation

Day 11: Montezuma Well, AZ

This and the cliff dwelling a few miles to the west were named by retarded cowboys who thought the Aztecs lived here, or some other fool notion. The truth is they were used by the Sinagua, an enigmatic prehistoric people whose traces can be found all over the southwest. (We will pay a visit to their neighbors, the Anasazi, later in our 30 day virtual vacation.) Unlike many other ancient sites, Montezuma Well has few domestic structures. It also isn't really a well.

The site was form when a cave collapsed, and the sinkhole was filled by a spring. As it is located smack dab in the middle of the desert, it's no wonder both humans and animals have used it for millennia. It is small in area, only a football field or so across. Around the rim can be seen a few remnants of mud brick structures, possibly one room dwellings or food storage facilities. A short hike to the bottom allows interesting views of the blue water, aquatic plants, and the occasional turtle. If you're lucky enough to be alone, rest under the stone overhang, listen to the birds, and reflect on the scratches on the walls from visitors of past centuries.

Hiking back up, the trail continues over the southern rim. Here a cool and verdant path leads to the exit point of the spring. Water tumbles out of the rocks, over a million gallons a day, and fills ancient irrigation ditches built by the Sinagua. This is one of my favorite spots in the southwest. It still feels alive with the spirit of a people who long ago abandoned the site. It is a good place for quiet contemplation, beside the cool waters of the ditch, under massive smooth-trunked Arizona sycamores, watching fish in the creek and listening to the breeze and birdsong.

This is one of four excellent and unusual, but less well known, ancient indian sites. To the west Montezuma Castle sits high in a cliff face, farther west Tuzigoot is a small city built on a hilltop, and to the northeast are the remains of rooms built in the recesses of a promontory in Walnut Canyon.

Teasers on this trip: copper, corn, vortex, sliding jail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good thing retarted cowboys don't read!