Sunday, January 10, 2010

Escalante Pueblo Trail in Winter

The Escalante Ruins Trail is the paved Interpretive Trail at the Anasazi Heritage Center near Dolores in southwest Colorado. In winter the1.0 mile round trip trail has been cleared of the heavy snow that makes most of the area trails difficult for normal hiking.

The Escalante Ruins site sits up on a hill overlooking the Big Bend of the Dolores River and the McPhee Reservoir. The Escalante Pueblo is thought to have been built in 1129 and is thought to reflect the building style of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, even though Mesa Verde is clearly in view.

The Far View Sites Trail in Mesa Verde has pueblo sites that are similar in appearance to Escalante. The T shaped doorways in the surface rooms are found in both sites. The Escalante site is thought to have been remodeled three times, based on the ages of the wood used in the construction.

In winter conditions, the circular Kiva is of interest as this room would have offered the best shelter from the weeks of below freezing temperatures and several feet of snow such as we observe in mid winter now. At Escalante, the Kiva is surrounded by rectangular room blocks, similar to the arrangement at Far View.

In this region, water pipes are buried about 3.5 feet to prevent freezing, so the depth of the Kiva would offer similar protection. The ventilation system and arrangement for smoke to escape make it appear that warmth could be maintained. The interpretive information here indicates that the pottery found here was of the local Northern San Juan style rather than Chaco Canyon style and there are quite a few examples in the museum at the base of the hill. The smaller Dominguez Ruin near the museum entrance was completely covered with snow following a snowy December.

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