Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hovenweep Canyon near Mockingbird Mesa 2

The Mockingbird Mesa area in the Canyons of the Ancients is south on County Road 12 from the junction with County Road BB for 7.2 miles and make a left turn at a BLM road junction. This area is west of Pleasant View, in southwest Colorado.

Staying to the right at the Mockingbird junction and right at the next junction for 1.5 miles arrives at a carbon dioxide plant near the east rim of the upper part of Hovenweep Canyon. There is a south leading dirt road trail before the gas plant that also leads into this area. On the Canyons of the Ancients map this road segment is 4531d, but I didn’t notice if it was marked in the field.

Walking west from the gas plant out to a point overlooking Hovenweep Canyon, there is a sagebrush canyon floor with a road that leads to a drill site. My hiking goal was to walk along the canyon rim and arrive at the canyon floor near the drill site, then look around the canyon floor area.

There are two large and interesting ruins sites in the side canyon area to the east of the rim where I was walking. (Use the label “Hovenweep Canyon near Mockingbird” for more views.) On this hike I was trying look further down the canyon beyond these sites.

Below the large ruins site and close to the rim, there is a large circular site. This looks like a large kiva but it the only structure in the immediate area, not part of a village as far as I could see. The large site is nearby, but higher along the slope.

I arrived at the canyon bottom in a narrow area with some large boulders on the west side. There was a cow trail to follow as I turned back toward the north. It took me 2:15 hours to arrive here after mostly slow walking with a lot of scanning with binoculars. This is about 2 miles south of where I started. There is a cleared area pipeline route that crosses Hovenweep Canyon in this vicinity.

Passing by drill site, there is an operating pump at the well and a rubble pile ruins site is visible on the cliff above. I didn’t try to climb up but it looks like a small lookout point site.

To the west of the drill site, across the sagebrush canyon floor, I could see two side by side boulders with some rubble on top. There is a deep eroded wash to cross and I had to look around for several minutes to find a reasonable place to cross. The sagebrush here is also very tall, thick and difficult to walk through.

There is a lot of rubble between the two boulders, both on the front side and behind. This appears to be a small site also, and it has a line of sight with the site across the canyon floor near the well site. This location is at a junction with a side canyon to the west of the main Hovenweep Canyon.

Continuing north along the west canyon floor, I noticed that there were many scattered pottery shards both in the Pinon Pine and Juniper forest and in the sagebrush field areas close to the canyon wall. I noticed one piece of red pottery. The area museums say that red ware was a product of Utah and Arizona and any found near the Mesa Verde area would have been traded in.

On the east side of the canyon floor there is another pair of boulders with rubble on top and scattered at the base. This site is about halfway from the starting point to the end of the road and is visible from the rim area.

From this site it looked relatively easy to climb back to the mesa top. This point is slightly south of the large ruins site that overlooks the side canyon to the east. From here it took me 1:00 hour to return to my starting point. My total hike took 5:00 hours for about 5 miles. It was a 68 F degree mid September day and I carried and drank 3 liters of water.

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