Day 17: Chaco Culture National Historic Park

We first spent time in the Chaco Canyon three years ago. That trip involved plans for a night of camping and a vicious looking storm that scared us away after only a couple of hours. I clearly remember Zak saying he couldn’t wait to spend more time learning about the hub of the region a thousand years ago. That time was finally today. But then all sorts of things got in the way.

We pulled into the campground last night at sunset and had a wonderful evening watching the clouds obstruct and then reveal the stars. We had hoped for an astronomy program, but there aren’t any due to covid. The night was tough. The wind whipped through our tents, causing sand to blow into our faces. The few drops of rain almost promised a peaceful lullaby, but they ended before providing any relaxation. It was a hot night and I don’t think any of us were able to cool down after spending the day in the heat. The sun rose and the temperature in the tent instantly reached an unbearable level. I panicked as I tried to blink the sleepies out of my eyes, immediately throwing on proper clothes and shoes to get out of the sauna. The outdoor temperature was cooler than in the tent, but only by a few degrees.

I tried to chug a cup of hot coffee, but there was just too much heat everywhere to be able to enjoy. It was 8:00 and we hopped in the air conditioned car for the few mile ride to the trailhead of our first hike of the day.

I wish I could write more about what we learned this visit. I’m so curious about the area and hub that Chaco was to nearby communities 1,000 years ago. I know that it was the Rome of the area, the cultural center of the region. Unfortunately, our hike, although beautiful, didn’t really teach us more than I already knew. I feel like I need a ranger led hike to really start to scratch the surface on all that there is to learn here. The 6 mile hike took us past great houses, pottery sherds, hand and toe holds, and some other pretty amazing things, I just wish I had a better understanding of how they all fit together with my previous knowledge.

It was about noon when we finished the hike and the temperature in the car registered 116. Our plan had been to do some smaller hikes, gnaw on some beef jerky for dinner, and camp again. We just didn’t think we had it in us to do those things AND be happy. We opted for a hotel, cold ice water, and great a traditional New Mexican diner. I think we’ll all sleep better.

Happy Father’s Day to Zak! He is such a great dad and I’m lucky to do this parenting thing as his partner.

Happy Father’s Day, dad! It was great talking to you today! The family said they don’t want the picture, but I’ll take one of the daiquiris next time you’re bartending for me!

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