Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Mexico in Photos, Part Three: Navajo Dam

After our quick stay in Santa Fe we drove up towards the Colorado border to visit my sister and brother-in-law at their home in Navajo Dam - a tiny, country town famous for fly fishing in the chilly, trout-filled San Juan River and just a couple of miles away from Navajo Lake State Park. Our first night we took an evening walk along the short dirt road built specifically for the oil and gas trucks, then cut through the shrubs and cacti and wound our way back home as the sun sank behind the mesas that surround the community like geological sentries.
Early the next morning Chris and I set off  to hike up to the water towers on the mesa behind my sister's place. Much of the area around Navajo Dam is public land, declared so by the Bureau of Land Management, which basically means we were able to walk wherever we wanted without fear of trespassing.

I tend to hike slower than Chris, especially when I'm being careful not to swing my camera into a jutting rock, so when I got to the water towers the only sign of him I saw was our red Nalgene water bottle, presumably left behind for me. That's when I knew he'd decided to climb all the way to the top, like my father had done a couple of years ago. I was content to wait for him and snap photos of the gorgeous New Mexico vista of mesas sprawled as far as I could see.

After our morning hike we went on an afternoon hike in Simon Canyon, traversing through the wild brush, Prickly Pear Cactus, and Pinon Pines dotted along the cliffs in search of an ancient Navajo ruin. Macy dog was our tour guide, patient and steady, leading the way.
About a mile into our walk we came upon Simon Ruin, built by the Navajo in the 1750s on top of a large boulder in the middle of the canyon. Chris made his way to the top much like the former inhabitants had done, by standing on a log and then pulling himself up a rope, using indentations in the rock to place his hands and feet. The native people that used this system would also pull the log and rope up with them to prevent enemy attack. There are no other structures like it nearby which implies that this pueblito wasn't a home but possibly a shelter or look-out.
A panel of petroglyphs

More petroglyphs
On the drive along the San Juan river, back to my sister's, we stopped along the dirt road a couple of times to check out some Navajo petroglyphs we'd heard could be seen along the cliff walls. We climbed up the rocky slope and there they were. These ancient drawings are always an impressive sight to behold, a stark reminder that native peoples have always lived there, fishing in the river long before anyone else.

We ended a day full of outdoor activities at the San Juan Winery, a rural vineyard owned and operated by the self-taught, hard-working Arnold family. We ordered wine - red for the boys, chardonnay for me - and walked around the colorful property, checking out all the birds, and being chased by angry geese. We sat under the shade of magnificent Cottonwood trees, drank one glass, and then another. Since we were the only ones there that lazy Thursday evening we let loose and took silly photos on a, wait for it, Brobdingnagian wooden chair (I've waited years to use that term since I first learned it on an advertisement in an issue of Sky Mall, which I promptly tore out and mailed to my sister, stained with the tears of my laughter. Some things just crack me up.)
We spent our last night in Navajo Dam watching the sunset with beers on the porch.  Of course we also had to see if we could jump over Macy's hurdle. You know, the usual shenanigans you get into with family; good times, indeed.
This ends my three part post on visiting New Mexico. Here's part 1 and part 2. To check out my first trip to Navajo Dam last year click here. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


Name said...

Awesome photos of awesome people in an awesome place! My little beef is with the Simon "Ruin". It doesn't look like a ruin at all. The ruins are the squalor the invaders set up along the river. Too bad the "Indians" couldn't keep them out!

Name said...

"Indians go back to India!"

Carol said...

Maybe it's called a ruin because the invaders (white man) ruined everything!

On another note, you got a picture of a cottontail!! And the baby peacocks!! Beautiful pictures, as usual! Thanks for taking them and writing about this area!

Anonymous said...

Love it!!
A clear description of the area, and the pictures are beautiful and hilarious also!