Back in late March John brought to my attention some online photos (since removed) from a canyon in the Cedar Mesa area showing some ruins and a complete, although cracked, in-situ pot. A few days later I was able to figure out the rough location of the pot, at least within a few minutes of some scenery in one of the photos. I hadn’t really planned on visiting the area to search for the pot until perhaps fall or winter, but John made plans to go there the first weekend in May and invited me. It was going to be a bit warm with a high near 90 degrees, but it wasn’t a super long hike and we planned to get an early start. I met him at our planned camp spot on Friday evening and we chatted for a while, then turned in early with a 6AM wake-up call planned for the morning.
We were hiking by 7AM on Saturday. To get into the canyon we walked down an old constructed stock trail which was blasted through the cliffs and ledges, with the rubble fashioned into ramps.
Once in the bottom of the canyon we kept our eyes peeled for any rock art or ruins and it didn’t take long before we found some of both. There were several granaries, some with corn cobs and metates inside, and just a bit of rock art above some of them. Near the granaries were also the ruins of structures that I’d guess were used for habitation.
Farther down the canyon we found more ruins high up on a ledge. There were a lot of potsherds here, and around the other side of the butte I found more granaries and some grinding slicks on a boulder.
Yet deeper into the canyon we finally reached where I thought the pot might be. John and I split up and began searching. There were so many potential hiding spots, and after more than 20 minutes I was beginning to lose hope that we’d find it. I was actually beginning to go back to find John when I poked my head into a crack and there it was! I’d imagined it being the size of a cantaloupe but it was much larger, more comparable to a basketball. I let out a few loud whistles and John joined me there.
We found some shade nearby and sat for lunch before hiking back up the canyon. It was pretty warm out but still tolerable. I took the climb up the stock trail just slow enough that I wouldn’t have to stop to rest since it was completely exposed to the sun.
It was 88 degrees when we got back to our vehicles. That’s just about the upper limit for what my body could take for a hike like this, but I’m glad we did it sooner rather than waiting until late in the year. This was only my second trip to the region, the first being cut very short by mosquitoes. This one was still a pretty short trip considering the distance I drove to get there, but it was much more worthwhile.
Photo Gallery: A Cedar Mesa Canyon