We get up and take a quick walk around our part of the campground looking for sites whose reservation list doesn’t include tonite.

I find this home right near our current site.

I find the trail leading to Overlook Trail which goes along the canyon rim near the campground.
After breakfast — Sherman eats breakfast for the first time in three days — we head for Overlook Trail. I love being at higher elevations.
Giant Turtle God
A fire ring where they aren’t allowed. Someone spent an awesome night here.
Back toward the campground.
It’s a windy day. Squint and walk into the wind…
I’m surprised by the number of flowers I only see one of in the 2 1/2 days here.
Out into Chaco Canyon
The visual landmark Butte
Love rocks…
A Star Wars set…
When we finish the hike — 3 miles — I go to the Visitor’s Center to get a list of open sites. There are six. We go back to look and pick one. Go back to pay. While leaving I turn around and ask about the signs for backcountry trail passes. I was not going to ask as I thought the whole idea was silly. She says they are so the ranger who closes the gates to the canyon at sunset can drive around and look for remaining vehicles or bicycles. There is a copy of the pass on the dash or attached to the bike. They then know someone is still out there. Know who it is. Know when they started. Basic info before they begin a search. Ok. I change my opinion. Good idea. I get a pass…
We go to the trailhead for the Pueblo Alto loop. It goes up a trail in the Cliff and on to New Alto and Pueblo Alto.

One of the ancient trails to the Mesa. Narrow and steep. About shoulder width.
A rim around a little canyon end.
Blooming Yucca. A staple plant for the Natives. Rope. Paint brushes. Sandals. Etc.
Overlook view of Pueblo Bonito.
This gap is one of the ways the Puebloans got in and out of the Canyon.
Many of these.
I’m are sitting on a rock. Break time New Alto in the frame. Called that because it is newer than Pueblo Alto.
When one of signals “Break Time!” We both take a break.
Pueblo Alto
Pueblo Alto

We met up with a guy from U.K. And hiked the rest of the loop with him.

Dog’s eye view of hiking. This is just above my knee so it’s a little over Sherman’s head height.
Overlook view of Chetro Ketl.
These are called Shrimp Tunnels. It’s iron deposits on the walls of shrimp houses when all this was underwater quite a few years ago.
My Brit hiking buddy goes down one of the chimneys on the hike.
Nearing the end.

We return to the narrow trail down the cliff — six mile loop.
These are on one of the displays by the ruin at the bottom of the trail.

A map of this area showing the road system. Remember these are 20-40 feet wide. Scraped down to the rock beneath the sandy soil and maintained so travelers can easily come and go.
Do we have the energy for another three miles? Not now. I drive to the parking for South Mesa loop. We share a can of Salmon and take a 30 minute nap. We’re ready!

This trail first goes past the largest kiva in the canyon. Obviously an important ceremonial spot.

Then winds up the steep canyon walls to the mesa. Looking back at the Grand Kiva with a ruin against the far canyon wall.
The trail is a continuous low uphill grade to Tsin Kletzin.

This is amazing. It’s a large structure in the middle of sandy high desert. There are NO rocks around. Yet a large complex rock building was constructed here approximately 800 years ago. Including 20 foot wide roads connecting it to other sites.
The only people who would build this thing today would be undocumented workers…We don’t have the multi-generational beliefs and visions to sustain this kind of effort. We have embraced Stoicism and Skepticism. We are determined that nothing have this kind of hold on us.
The only columbine I saw in the canyon.
Along the cliff on the way back.
Cracks in the earth. Did Chaco Canyon start like this and continue to spread?
Back to the Kiva overlook.
From near the van.
As we drive by the Butte I notice the ramp on the right. This was built. They held ceremony on the Butte at various levels, including the top.
We are tired. We had our first 12 mile day since Vermont. I’m guessing we’ll sleep past first light tomorrow.