Ancient Ruins

(June 4th)

A few miles into Tour day 40 (June 4th), I was excited to visit one of the Anasazi (Navajo) ruins I had heard so much about. Suffering from the same over-eagerness as my fellow trail hikers, we all glibly ignored the posted BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sign, stating, that this trail was not the Butler wash ruins trail, that trailhead was 0.2 miles down the highway.

No matter, I was hiking, and ignorant to my mistake. The 0.2 miles I had stuck in my head was more like 2 miles, but the trip was absolutely worth the hike. Unmarked at the trailhead or on my maps, the trail led to a cave, where the Anasazi had built a small city nestled into the cliff almost 800 years ago. I read the BLM 3-ring binder in an old ammo box at the site. Most off the artifacts besides the building ruins themselves had already been taken before the forest service arrived. A detailed description of the site was offered, and a reminder that to the native peoples, this was still a sacred place that the spirits of their ancestors frequented, and to please be respectful of this dusty sepulcher of sorts.

I tried to fill my imagination of what it must have been like to live in this community, and what a young man my age would have thought and done, thinking how much faster and with much greater endurance he would have walked to his home and back to the edge of the canyon.

Pedaling again, I rode alongside a rock feature that looked like a frozen wave with parallel cracks jutting against the sky. Eventually the road turned and made a slice of man-made canyon through the rock and my bike raced down the other side of the ridge, hitting a tour record top speed of 48 MPH. Now up the hill on the other side of Comb wash, I could see better what I had just crossed, an enormous ridge with cliff faces, that stretched scores of miles off in the distance, undulating like a crude comb. The next day I would read a book that would inform me that the native peoples believed this ridge was the exposed spine of the very earth itself, reminding them of the giving of life itself.

It fit somehow. Comb ridge is neither the biggest, nor most scenic geologic feature I have encountered on the tour, yet it remains one of the most memorable

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