|Hundreds of cavates along the south facing canyon wall where talus homes once stood 800 years ago.|
|Restored pit house in Tyuonyi|
|This canyon must have been bustling with human activity|
|Creature carved on canyon wall|
|The parrot petroglyph. Parrotts were traded from Mexico and feathers used for Puebloan dance costumes.|
|Many of the dwellings seemed to have their own unique petroglyph carved above the roof area.|
|This interesting shape was carved WAY above the dwellings.|
|The Ancestral Puebloan People in Bandeleier lived in a rock wonderland.|
|Abert's squirrel: Looked like a squirrel/rabbit hybrid|
|Alcove House: Reached by 140 foot climb on four ladders|
|Moosie inside the Alcove House|
|Moosie, Camo, and I in the Alcove House|
|Sun setting behind the mountains|
|New Year's Eve Fire|
After returning to camp, Moosie and Camo were just waking up and we were excited about the day before us. We decided to visit the main monument of Tyuonyi in Frijoles Canyon (located behind the visitor center) and hike up to the Alcove House, a massive cave 140 feet off the canyon floor. By the time we had breakfast and reached the visitor center, gray clouds filled the sky and snow flurries began to fall. We slowly took our time and followed the paved trail through Tyuonyi and the multiple ruins along the south facing canyon walls. Tyuonyi must have been quite the place in it's heyday. The puebloan talus homes were built one next to the other along the canyon wall. It is said that small farms and gardens filled with corn, beans, and squash (the three sisters) were planted in the valley and probably the canyon rim as well. According to archaeological surveys, there are at least 3,000 sites in Bandelier, probably inhabited at different times. Moosie, Camo, and I would barely scratch the surface of this beautiful place. Our leisurely morning stroll was like a game of "Where's Waldo?" There were so many interesting things to see, in particular petroglyphs hiding along the walls, often hidden in plain sight.
There were several families and other tourists walking with us along the trail as we all made our way towards the Alcove House. We arrived around noon and climbed the four ladders, past tent shaped rocks and spires, above the tops of the ponderosa pines, 140 feet to the enormous cave. Who lived in this kingly palace?
Moosie, Camo, and I were getting hungry at this point, the gray skies had burned off by now, and a bright sun was shining down on us. We decided to drive into the town of White Rock, a few miles outside of Bandelier, purchase some fire wood and some beverages to bring in the new year. When we returned we had some time left over to do some late afternoon exploring which was rewarding. By evening, a campfire, beer, and some tunes were in order. As we said goodbye to 2016, conversations with Moosie and Camo around the fire gave me a lot to think about, in particular life's future trajectory. I want to keep hiking, and witnessing places like this. I was glad to bring in the new year with trail friends...