The weird thing about the “roads” near Chaco is they they are straight and wide and often go straight over a cliff (sometimes with a ramp or stairway). Why would the Ancestral Puebloans have wide roads going straight over landscape features before horses were used and well before wagons and cars? Why are they so straight they go right over cliffs? Archaeologists have puzzled over these features and hotly debated whether they were symbolic or functional. Maybe they lead to a place of origin along which the spirits of the dead travel. Or, they were used as transport pathways for economic purposes. At Chaco Canyon, they talk of commerce and finding turquoise, shells, macaws and chocolate. Maybe Chacoan roads were used to get these luxury items there.
Ray and I are hundreds of miles away from Chaco Canyon but I still think this could be a prehistoric road. Chacoan experts seem to think everything is about Chaco. But it’s not. This alignment, or road, goes to springs at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs and points to a direct route to the top of the cliffs with petroglyphs marking the way. There are too many hints that this may be a very old “road”. I wonder if or where there are great houses or kivas around here.
Whatever the road is, it has an important presence here. It is a scratch on the skin, slicing through the landscape without regard to it’s curves and undulations. It demands it’s own story.
The sun is hot and beating down on us. We are supposed to be at the Grand Canyon in two days and hike down to the bottom on the Nankoweap Trail, bushwhacked along the Colorado River on the north side, hitchhike across by boat, and then hike along on the south side of the river along the Beamer and Tanner Trails to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Ray and I discuss our options as it is now reaching the mid 90s in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We have done the eastern section of the Hayduke Trail that goes through the Grand Canyon and have completed routes on both the north side and south sides of the Canyon. The eastern section of the Grand Canyon at the bottom opens up and with names like “Furnace Flats” it gets unbearably hot. We decide to hike to the Nankoweap trailhead where we hiked in the Grand Canyon one and one half years ago.
We will not be redoing the section of the Hayduke starting at Nankoweap and going to the North Kaibab Trail because we have done it before (several times actually). We also are a little beat up from long days through the Vermilion Cliffs and Paria Canyon, and we need a new tent as the zipper is completely broken. So we revise our plan.
After connecting to Nankoweap Trailhead, we will shuttle cars, get new shoes and tent in Flagstaff, and start back on the trail at Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon. We will then hike the Hayduke through the western part from Bright Angel, across to the North Kaibab Trail, through Saddle Canyon and out to Crazy Jug, down to Deer Creek, along the Colorado and up Kanab Creek. We have done most of this part as well but it has been over 25 years ago for some portions (Deer Creek and along the river to Kanab Creek) and some of it will be new for us like North Kaibab to the north rim and Saddle Canyon to Crazy Jug.