Friday, 16 March 2012

Tonto National Monument

A view of the upper ruins of the cliff dwellers from the trail below
AZ Mistletoe - apparently the berries are edible
Well this very likely will be our last post before heading home in 10 days time.  We've had a wonderful trip and 8 months to the day from leaving home, we will start heading back home -  March 26, 2012.  We are ready and looking forward to being home again.

Many of our stops while in Canada included National Historic sites so it is only fitting that we should close off with a USA National Monument (the USA equivalent to our Ntl. Historic Sites) - namely the Tonto National Monument - the Cliff Dwellers dating back to 1250 - 1400 AD.  The Salado Indians - a blend of other Southwest migratory natives at that time - inhabited this area at that time. 

This was a reserved hike, and we had to be accompanied by a park guide.   Our guide gave us an excellent overview of how the 'people' utilized resources - plants and cactus in the area for their survival.  Only 15 people are allowed on each hike up to the upper cliff dwellings - a 600 foot climb through a riparian area then a dessert area of many switch backs.  Killer bees were in the area but our guide assured us they were just the worker bee variety (non aggressive)- and that they were loading up on water for their hives.  This was a huge leap of faith for Sandra who has had a bee phobia from early childhood.  Well our guide was right - we strolled through the stream bed and ignored the bees and they ignored us!  Whew!

The beginning of our hiking trail in the riparian area

Vines in the riparian area

Sycamore trees in the riparian area.  Apparently the bark of these trees turns an awesome shade of green wen it rains

Wash areas on the trail - our guide told us that one year when they'd had  a big rainfall (a day or so) this was a raging river - with boulders tumbling along in the water.  Amazing!  Your don't want to be caught in these back country washes during a rain storm.

A younger and older saguaro - note the rubs if the  deceased saguaro supporting the old  saguaro!  These Saguaro ribs are very strong and were utilized by the 'people' in the construction of their dwellings.  Saguaro ribs make for an excellent walking stick too.

The Upper Ruins - almost there!

Looking out from    within the ruins - multiple rooms. 

A cistern in one of the rooms that apparently held ~ 100 gallons of water

Food grinding tools - a metate (bowl) and mano (oval rocks)

One of the rooms in the ruins - structures up to 700 years 0ld.  The floor could very likely be a ceiling to a room below.

Roofing structure inside one of the rooms - note the saguaro ribs for strength

Outside view of the ruins

View of Theodore Roosevelt Lake from the upper ruins.  Apparently there are ~ 70 ruin sites in the Tonto basin.  Most have not been restored.  T Roosevelt created the Ntl. Monument in 1906 to protect the historic ruins.  The lake now covers much of what would have been the historic agricultural area of 'the people' at the time this area was inhabited.  It is projected that as the resources to support the' people' were depleted, they likely took to the hills and the cliff dwellings may have been a defensive move for survival.

Starting our hike down!
The pictures can tell the story!

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