Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 30: Mesa Verde NP (#13)

Day 30: Mesa Verde NP (#13)

Looking at yourself through the media is like looking at one of those rippled mirrors in an amusement park.
Edmund S. Muskie

Pics: Far View Lodge utility box, turkeys, Cliff Palace, bird at picnic, Balcony House ladders and kiva, THB as only his followers can appreciate, DB and e-ticket ladder ride, wildflower, “wrapped” utility box friend, petroglyph map (NOT petroglyphs)

Supposedly, the weather was going to the high 30s overnight. Not last night! However, today was supposed to be 68 and it only got to the low 70s. A terrific day to take tours and hikes in Mesa Verde.

First, we try the breakfast buffet. The saddest thing on the trip with the exception of the Holiday Inn in Estes Park. Cheerios, frosted flakes, toast, coffee, $23. The good news: our waitress, Holli, has a tip on the best hike to take in the park, and we agree, it was a great hike (see below).

Here’s our day:
• The Cliff Palace dwellings tour (see pics), which is an easy one hour tour with a very informative ranger, with talk at several stops.
• An easy 1.3 mile overlook hike, with deer sightings and great vistas
• Picnic lunch of PB&J or PB&H, with banana, and dead carrots (from Walsenburg Safeway, they obviously weren’t in great shape when we bought them yesterday), and a shared granola bar
• The Balcony House tour, which includes climbing tall ladders, using footholds with chain rails, climbing through a 12 foot tunnel on hands and knees, and another good ranger talk while viewing the cliff dwellings. Note: DB overcomes fear of heights and tall ladders and awkward footing to make this a great tour for her
• Ice cream treats; $4.50
• A 3+ mile Petroglyph hike (1.5 hours) out along the face of a cliff (maybe 20-30 feet below the mesa) and up on the mesa through the juniper forest back. A few interesting spots, both on the trail and to see the petroglyphs. As some of you know, THB is rather dubious about any “ancient” pictures, thinking that tourists could be drawn in with a few naïve pictures. Think of the fake Lascaux as the ultimate expression of this theory. On this hike, we pass a couple where the woman is really struggling to catch her breath, hunched over her hiking stick so far we can’t really see her face. The altitude here is around 8,000 feet, so we’re not sure if that is what’s affecting her or not. It does give you pause if you’re out there on your own and start to suffer.

Dinner at the Lodge again: pork for THB (overcooked) and pasta in olive oil with chicken for DB (not bad), wine and beer and house salads, $70.

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