As I’m walking along the canyon edge, I notice some notches in the landscape. Its noticable from some distance. Then I reach a sign that says ‘Jackson Staircase’. If you recall from part 1, I don’t research my destinations main attractions…. so this was an interesting sight. Stairs carved right out of the side of the canyon… and they were steep! I can’t imagine actually using them myself, it’s one heck of a drop if you lose your footing. Even attempting to get closer to the edge for a better photo angle was freaky. I decided not to push it with icy spots still up there. I didn’t want to end up a statistic. I’ve been hiking for a few miles lugging a full pack, but never even broke a sweat. Honestly, you really don’t need deodorant out here. It’s a dry air, and low humidity, around 0- 5%. At home it’s usually 50-90%, sticky and muggy, this is a real treat!
I can finally see the road again, though I still have a ways to go to get back to the starting point. I decide to stop for lunch before I begin my descent. From this vantage point, I can see Chetro Ketl and Fajada Butte, both in the distance. The Ravens have been following me again. I welcome their company with tuna sandwich tidbits.
Throughout the hike, you will see stacked rocks. This is the trail markers. Upon my descent to a lower rim of the canyon, I noticed what appears to be trash next to the stack of rocks. When I reached down to pick it up, wasn’t I surprised to realize it was actually ancient pottery shards. This is an awesome find! I know I’m not the first to see these. They are right in the path. I am grateful for all the other hikers who respected the law that forbids the removal of artifacts from NPS properties. Remarkably… I have not seen a single piece of trash anywhere. That is rare when you are at tourist locations (or anywhere people are) from my experience. There isn’t much respect towards the planet we live on. But that is for another blog I have not yet written.
When I reach the Chetro Ketl overlook, I hear someone yelling from below. The man wanted to know how I got up there. I yelled back that ‘I walked, but took the long way’. From here I’ve only a mile 1 1/2 left. While it doesn’t sound that far… my legs are achy. While it hasn’t been a very hard hike overall as there have been plenty of stops to take pictures, all of the boulder hopping has worn me down. My shins and feet have had it. I’ve had problems for years due to a lifetime of pushing them to the extremes, but I try not to let the daily pains stop me from doing what I’m driven to do, EXPLORE!
Six hours later, I emerge from the crevice and I am back where I started from. Still a 1/4 mile back to the parking lot, but I feel amazing. I conquered a fear, and came out stronger than when I started. Maybe not physically, but mentally, and for that I am grateful.