Thursday, November 3, 2011

Devil’s Chasm Hike

007(Chuck w/photos & notes by Jan) Sierra Ancha Cliff Dwellings is a series of native American ruins that were built between 1280 and 1350 in an area which is East of present day Lake Roosevelt, AZ. The ruin we hiked to is known as Devil’s Chasm.

In April, 2010, Sheeley’s, Poutney’s and Jan and I were sitting around a fire in Rye and Dean was telling us about ruins in the area. Soon a plan was hatched and Ron, Dean and I set out to find a well hidden ruin on Cherry Creek. Long story, short reveals that this is no casual “hike in the mountains”. This is a difficult and possibly dangerous journey that not all who start are expected to complete. Back in April, 2010 Ron and I left the creek too soon and exhausted ourselves on the side of the mountain. We returned to the waterfall not defeated, but far more experienced.

On this attempt with Bruce & Dee and Jan & I, we researched the site and found GPS coordinates and photos from other people who had made the hike. This was very helpful and provided a good chance for success.

008Above, Bruce & Dee starting out fresh in the woods where we parked our truck. Dee & Jan hiking, center, and ‘the big rock’ that blocks the canyon about half way up at right. 151 014


163The ‘Big Rock’ was about 20 feet high. To get to the top, we crawled/climbed….. 164with the help of a large nylon rope, up the right hand side of the wall…… 023through a small tunnel that opening to the top. From there we continued up the canyon to a high waterfall area.

There are five or six places that require very careful maneuvering along narrow rock ledges which are twenty foot above the rock creek bed. It breaks rules that Jan and I have used on hikes. We have always said that we would not do anything that would jeopardize our RV lifestyle. We broke that rule when we conquered the bad area with very careful and deliberate foot and hand placements up the face of the 20+ foot waterfall. We reminded ourselves that even though we were tired, safety was most important.

170 095The dry waterfall area, at right. The guys hiked across a narrow ledge above the falls because water was flowing down in the spring of 2010. 171This time we were able to climb up and later down the face of the waterfall, finding small cracks and ledges for our feet and hands.

180The “trail” is marked with rock carrions as it follows the canyon. A quarter mile past the point that Ron and I (April 2010) had left the creek and followed a false trail up the canyon wall, we came to the right place where we started a very steep ascent up the side of the canyon. This final climb is in excess of 45 degrees in thick brush and loose rock and dirt. After several hundred yards we were finally greeted with the first view of the ruin. Until this point there was some concern that not all three of us were going to proceed. It was a welcome sight in the sunlight. We made the final push after a brief rest and lunch while clinging along this steep path.

036It was at this point that Bruce and Jan nearly staged a revolt! Chuck’s encouragements of ‘it’s just around the corner’ were falling short. 032Our hearts were racing and we needed to decide if this was the end of our abilities. It was clearly evident that we needed rest and food. 033We found a small shaded spot right on the dirt trail where the three of us could sit to have our lunch without sliding back down the hill.

 186Bruce, Jan and I spent about 20 minutes exploring the ruin and taking photos.


080Entering the ruins. 074Chuck by the front door 196Looking up to the second floor and the overhanging protecting cliff
044A matate or grinding stone left on the floor in one of the rooms by the ancient peoples 055A hand print in the adobe ‘mud’ between the bricks and a door ledge. 045 Looking out a window

057Chuck & Jan at a window on the far side of the ruins that drops off down into the canyon below 050A dividing wall 081Jan & Bruce standing on the ledge right below the ruins ready to tackle our hike/slide down

We rejoined Dee below the Big Rock, and all safely returned to the pickup.

099 220 090

This is trail is only four miles round trip, but it is easily the most difficult one that we have been on. From the start of the trail where we parked the pickup to the ruin there is a 2100 foot elevation gain. Jan and I carried a two liter Camelback and four 20 oz. water containers for a total of 140 ounces and we used all of it.

This journey requires a 28 mile, hour and one half drive on gravel through the mountains. Bruce, Dee, Jan and I set out on the trail at 10:00 and we all returned to the parking area (very tired) six hours later. Devil’s Chasm Ruins was a very satisfying accomplishment for us.


Pictures are by Bruce and Dee Richmond and Chuck & Jan Moore. Click on any imagine to enlarge it.


Jim and Bobbie said...

Wow, what an accomplishment!!! Well done.

Judy Sheeley said...

Congratulations - youboth did great! I think the trail has gotten worse. Hope you enjoyed it and glad you made it safe.

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