El Morro

El Morro profile shot
22489 15FEB98-2257 Coffee Shop
     Zuni Land & El Morro
     From: STACKMAN     To: ALL

[...] From Zuni, we headed east to El Morro, a sandstone promontory with a pool at its base. From the visitor center to the summit is a nice little mile hike, which is also a nice little climb of 242' to an altitude of 7460'. Be prepared to be out of breath! Debbi stopped for a couple of rests, while I kept climbing in spite of the burning in the lungs caused by deep breaths of oxygen-poor, cold, dry air in order to satisfy my impatience.

Mesa Top Trail was closed due to snow, but we could still go as far as the Anasazi (ancestors to the Zuni) ruins. A'ts'ina, the larger of the two, built around 1275 AD and rediscovered in the 1950's, housed between 1000 and 1500 people. Around 1400 the village was abandoned as the people moved down to the Zuni valley. I got the feeling that this village was built where it was purely for its defensible characteristics.

ruins high above ruins semi underground

The stroll back down the trail was much more leisurely, and I took notice of all the life surrounding me. The energy was palpable. In stark contrast to barren Gallup, where not even a raven is seen, the amount and variety of life here is just amazing. Birds flitting from tree to tree, tracks of all manner of creatures in the snow, insects (yes, even in snowy December!) crawling over the dried prickly pears, all induced a wonderful euphoria at the wonder of life's robust determination to exist wherever it can; in places we never expect.

Juniper, prickly pear, ponderosa pine, sagebrush, pinon pine, grasses, and even rushes at the pool created by the run-off from the mesa are the mid-level building blocks of life here, eeking out their existence from craggy rocks; no topsoil here.

prickly pear grows out of rocks pool at base

Walking from the pool along the cliff wall you see the carvings of ancient travellers, laboriously scratched out animal shapes, to the more recent grafitti of Spanish explorers beginning in 1605, up to inscriptions by members of the US Army Camel Corps in the mid 1800s. Man's effort to leave something permanent behind, something to be rememberd by, is graphically demonstrated here, and a sense of the shortness of our stay on earth can't help but be contemplated.


uploaded 2 Nov '98

Steve Ackman, 1997,'98 ©

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