Monday, April 28, 2008

White House Ruin and the South Rim

The next day started pretty easy as we got up and did some chores. We were waiting for the afternoon as the plan was to hike the White House Ruin trail and the guidebook said that the afternoon was best for photos.
We finally left the house at noon and drove to the trail head. Oh my! The trail is a 500 foot vertical drop and is about 3 miles roundtrip. Looking down, from the overview you could easily see the ruins at the bottom.
The trail started easy, about 1000 feet along the rim. It then went down through a tunnel with switchback after switchback. It was part dirt, but mostly sandstone ledges that had been blasted and chisled from the rock wall. It is one of the most spectacular hikes we have ever been on! Near the bottom we passed through a long tunnel to be greeted by the sight of an Hogan. Smoke curled from its smokestack inviting a photograph but the sign said no photos!
After passing through the tunnel it was a short and easy stroll to the ruins. There we were greeted by quite a few Navajo Venders, selling the usual silver jewelry, pottery, and rock art. The rock art was really neat, a dancing figure, but there was no way we were going to carry it back up the cliff, (the Navajo drive the dirt trail, alongside the river to get to this spot. It can also be reached by taking a jeep tour but I strongly recommend the trail!).
We ate lunch near the ruins before beginning the hike up. There was no hurry so we took our time and made use of the benches. While we had both worried about the return it turned out to be pretty easy.

After returning to the truck it was a short drive to the Spider Rock viewpoint. Spider Rock is a sacred site of the Dine. Renita spotted ceremonial ruins near the base and I looked for a line to climb. An unforgettable tower of sandstone that seems to defy gravity!
The drive back was anticlimatic. Sliding House Ruins, Tsegi Overlook, Junction, and Tunnel were all worthy sites but we had seen too much as we stumbled from spot to spot. We returned home exhausted from the day. Clear skies.

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