We skipped the next rim stop, the White House Overlook and Trail, postponing it until the end of the day as we journeyed on to Sliding House, Face Rock and Spider Rock Overlooks.
Like a glacier braking off into the ocean during the Spring thaw, the large flat pink rocks, which once held the ancient Anazasi masonry, had slipped down the side of the canyon wall and were scattered about in piles just below the cliff’s shelf at Sliding House Overlook. Only partial rock walls remained with their flat sides still attached to the cliff and the rough, deteriorating sides facing us.
The scent of pine, mingled with cooler air, was a pleasant surprise for us at Face Rock Overlook. Shadows along the north slope of the canyon wall shaded snow-covered Piñon pines. Scattered along this wall, these trees spilled down into the valley, where they eventually joined the cottonwoods. Ruins, tucked into long jagged cracks in the wall of the other side of the canyon, provided more photo opportunities for us.
At Spider Rock Overlook, we searched in vain for a rock resembling a spider. Instead, we discovered two smooth red and black monoliths of different sizes joined together and rising over 800 feet from the canyon floor. We soon learned that these magnificent twin towers of sandstone were named Spider Rock due to Navajo lore.
According to legend, Spider Woman once lived on top of this rock and taught the Navajo how to weave. The children, however, were afraid of her because they were told that the white residue on top of the rock tower represented the bones of bad children who in times past had been devoured by Spider Woman.
Large arch openings framed some of the ruins at this location. Unlike the ruins we had previously viewed, these were not sandwiched into rock cracks. Rather, they were built inside fairly large caves, resembling bee hives. They were considerably higher off the canyon floor than the others. I exhausted my brain deciphering how the ancients entered their abodes.
This completed our rim tour. As excited as I was to have viewed these early remains from this position, I was now anxious to get a closer view by hiking into the canyon on the White House Ruins Trail, our final destination at Canyon De Chelly.
To be concluded next Monday…