Saturday morning we left Amarillo, ready for some vertical scenery after Oklahoma and Texas. We were heading to Santa Fe to see Deke’s oldest friend. He and his wife and two little ones live near the center of the city, and welcomed Avon and his traveling companions into their home for a warm and wonderful weekend. Thanks again. I hope we can return the favor.
Since I’d been there last, a major forest fire in 2011 had been stopped just short of the ruins and the visitors center. You see pine trees near the stream with their trunks seared. Up the valley, the fire devastated so much of the vegetation that the Park Service knew it was only a matter of time before the summer rains would create a flood. That happened in September 2013, when much of the ruined forest came roaring down the canyon, flooding the visitors center and parking lot and taking out bridges over what’s usually a small stream. Today everything is restored, but you can see massive piles of tree trunks, limbs and silt jammed against the standing trees, sawn through to clear the trails. It’s an awe-inspiring place, one more reminder that there were people here building cities for centuries before any Europeans showed up.