Friday, October 14, 2011

Squaw Point near Lower Cross Canyon

The Cross Canyon access road is 2.7 miles northeast of the turnoff to the headquarters of Hovenweep National Monument along paved County Road 10, along the Utah and southwest Colorado border. The access road is marked as San Juan County 2031 and turns west descending steeply for 2.3 miles down into Cross Canyon.

At the bottom there is a creek crossing. Just past the creek there is a right turn that enters Cross Canyon and heads toward McLean Basin and the Cross Canyon Wilderness Study Area. The trail I followed is about 1.2 miles up this road on the left. It is clearly visible while descending into the canyon. This rough uphill road connects to other roads on top of Squaw Point. This area is slightly outside the official Canyons of the Ancients, but still BLM managed land.
I’ve started up this trail before but turned back about halfway up due to biting gnats. Continuing to the mesa top, there is a side road that turns south. I followed this route to the end of the trail. After about 1:00 hour of hiking the trail ends and a large boulder based ruins site is visible further south. It took me another 0:20 minutes to arrive at the site. There are two short side canyons between the end of the trail and the ridge location of the boulder ruins.
There is a lot of rubble on the top of the boulder, but only fragments have held together as walls. This site has one of the most dramatic of locations. It is on the point that overlooks the very broad junction of Cross Canyon and Squaw Canyon. The rocky point location is visible from miles around but it is not obviously a ruins site from a long distance view.

Most of the interesting features are along the east side. There are two small sections of wall structures that have been sheltered with some brick fragments visible above.

Further on there is a kiva depression with some wall brickwork visible. There were many pottery shards around the kiva.
The largest and most conspicuous pottery shards were white with black smudges. This style seemed unusual. There were also corrugated and a few painted designs.

Further on there is a large circular rubble pile. The sides of the boulders are tall and very vertical and I didn’t notice any easy way for the residents to climb to the top.

I noticed three petroglyph panels. One of them had some very clear and interesting images. There is a good image of a hunter with a bow and arrow aiming at a mountain sheep.

On the left side of the same panel are two reclining figures, one playing a flute. I can’t tell what the other figure is doing. The pair seems to be enclosed in a frame.

Looking back north along the east rim of Squaw Canyon, I think another boulder based site with wide views is visible two or three miles away. The Squaw Point road leads close to that site. It is interesting that these two sites have a very clear line of sight. My return hike took 1:10 hours and the total hike was 3:15 hours for about 5 miles. I carried and drank 2 liters of water on a sunny 68 F degree mid October day. The sunny mild days of fall are probably the best time of year for hiking in the Canyons of the Ancients.

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