Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Sierra Ancha cliff dwelling area is located outside of Phoenix. I had been working there with Rich for a number of years and we had so much to do Rich decided to enlist EARTHWATCH’s help.

People came from all over to join in this wonderful endeavor.

My crew was sent in to map an existing known but undocumented cliff dwelling structure in another valley. We had a vague idea were the cliff dwelling was located so we started our scouting.

A “sorta” path was found leading up the 200 foot sheer cliff face. The path took us to a narrow ridge. One by one, bellies tight against the cliff, hands way out to our sides griping the rock face we picked, slid and skirted our way along the narrow ledge holding on for dear life. An older guy behind me said, “Hurry up! We have work to do.” I smiled and gave him a polite murmur of “I am going as fast as I can.”

We found the dwelling 200 feet up. Walls intact, artifact on the floor and the dwelling looked out on the valley’s desert floor for miles around. Hours were spent drawing and mapping the dwelling. Measurements were taken of the existing walls and the multiple courses that included type of stone used. Rock by rock we measured. Form by form was filled out. We were exhausted not only from the work, the small space we had been confined in for hours but from the nerve wracking climb into the dwelling.

On the way back, repeating the stance of bellies to the cliff face and hanging on for dear life, I heard the same man say to the girl behind me, “Hurry up we have dinner waiting.” Now this gal was from Boston, a tiny thing too, wasn’t about to take his nonsense. In her best deep thundering voice I heard her shout, “Fuck Off!”

Hmmm. Sometimes youth has a unique way of putting things in perspective!

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