|Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park|
In the summer, the park has a wonderful program where rangers portray a historical person relevant to the area. That person leads a late afternoon tour of a cliff dwelling while in period dress and acting in character. On the day that we arrived, we signed up for the tour of Cliff Palace led by Al Wetherill (one of the men who "discovered" Cliff Palace) portrayed by a ranger whose name I have forgotten (I'm sorry because he did an excellent job).
The tour began above Cliff Palace and "Al Wetherill" explained that for the next hour we would be in 1902 and that he'd hoped we'd filled our canteens at the nearby spring.
Away we went for our tour of the Cliff Palace ruins. We got a history lesson about the Wetherill family and the discovery and study of Cliff Palace. We walked down the trail and down some stairs as the sun started going lower. Al paused and showed us a rough, rocky trail that used to be his way down to Cliff Palace. Once we got down to the ruins, we sat on a large, curving rock ledge while Al told his story.
One story of the Wetherill family history is here. We can see that the Wetherill family had a lot to do with the sites of ancient peoples in the Four Corners area of northwest New Mexico and southwest Colorado.
As the sun lowered in the sky, you can see that the ruins (above) positively glowed in the light.
Al had us mesmerized with his story and the story of Cliff Palace and his many visits to the ruin. Then he said we had to get moving since the sun was getting lower. We got up and moved to another location in front of the cliff dwelling while Al told us a bit more about how he and his wife had to leave this area after they lost their ranch in order to survive. He thanked us for joining him on this visit--his last visit to Cliff Palace. Then he paused and removed his hat and . . . became the ranger.
The ranger then filled in other parts of the story that Al didn't know and could not have known.
It was fascinating, but we had to get moving to beat the sun out of the canyon.
We had to climb a few ladders to get out of the ruins and to the rim of the canyon. I do NOT like ladders, but I tried not to think about that too much while I tried to just keep moving. I muttered to myself and my man talked encouragingly to me while we made the climb with the others on the tour.
Once out of the canyon, we headed back to the Mesa Verde campground where we spent a quiet night.
The next morning we met some of the campground residents.