Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cahone Canyon Mesa Top

The Cahone Canyon Wilderness Study Area of the northeast part of the Canyons of the Ancients can be accessed with a west turn at County Road R at the small town of Cahone in southwest Colorado. From Highway 491 it is 4 miles to a gate and trail head.

The unmarked but obvious trail leads northwest about 1.5 miles to a junction with Cross Canyon. On this hike I stayed straight west along a vague trail next to the fence line.

It took me 1:15 hours to travel about 2 miles to the canyon rim overlooking the northern part of Cross Canyon. The fence line with the vague trail extends nearly the entire distance. There are two small canyon drainages to cross along the way. This point is about 1 mile south of where the main trail arrives at the bottom of Cross Canyon. 

Looking up and down the canyon, I couldn’t spot any Ancestral Pueblo Ruins sites from the mesa top. I could see some trail segments down below on the west side of the Cross Canyon bottom. On a previous hike to the canyon bottom I had found one ruins site slightly south of where the main trail enters Cross Canyon.

From this Cross Canyon view point I hiked south about 0.7 miles to the north rim of Cahone Canyon. There were two short side canyons to cross or walk around to arrive at the north rim. This south facing canyon rim had many large boulders that I thought would be likely places to find ruins sites. In the Cahone Canyon below looked like there was a permanent flow of water, but I didn’t notice any structures along the 1 mile closest to the junction with Cross Canyon. 

Walking back north, steering by compass, I came to a sagebrush area in the otherwise Pinon Pine and Juniper forest and started seeing many pottery shards and sharp edged rock pieces.

Looking around more, there is a fairly large village site that is largely overgrown with sagebrush. It looks like there has been some excavation is a few places here. There are several piles of collapsed building stone that have been moved away from the structures. Otherwise it is hard to see anything other than jumbled building stones.

This site is on the south side of the western most cleared field in this area. The cleared field and sagebrush show up clearly on the aerial photos on Google maps.

From this site I circled around the cleared field and walked northeast until I found the fence line I had followed from the trail head. I had spent about 3:30 hours and 4 miles looking around before finding this site. The return hike after looking around the site took about 1:00 hour. My total hike took 5:30 hours for about 6 miles. It was 70 F degrees at my 9:00 AM start and 88 F as 2:30 PM on a sunny early July day. I carried and drank 4 liters of water.

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