Mike and I made it over to the Bears Ears region to see first hand some of the wonders that may or may not be a National Monument. The panorama above is a small glimpse of the glorious territory between Canyonlands and the San Juan River. Certainly not as deep as the Grand Canyon, but no less spectacular, as it’s close up and personal in it views. This canyon shown is only about 3,000′ deep but looking straight down and across will give you pause, for more reasons than catching your breathe.
We spent a couple days down in the Hammond Canyon, which unlike many of our hikes, starts out down and finishes with a very steep climb out. Had we known more about this area we’d have gone in from Posey Trail and hiked out Hammond Canyon which is more gradual and a little less elevation. But the “stashed” mountain bike at the top of Posey Trail made for an easy looped hike.
One of the features made the adventure even more delightful, besides the views, the freshly blooming Lupine, double waterfall and original growth trees, was a ruin. An older trail guide mentioned a ruin visible from just below a waterfall, we missed from the first waterfall we found. It wasn’t until we’d taken a 45 minute bushwhack and returned to the creek a quarter mile downstream that we could clearly see the ruin.
This photo was taken about 2/3’s the way up a mostly animal trail to the ruin. See if you can pick it out when you enlarge it. Only about 700′ above the valley, but a third of a mile away it’s hard to see.
Once you’ve scrambled up to it, it’s quite impressive with it’s five rooms and very large hidden alcove behind it, littered with corn cob husks. These remote and hard to find, let alone hard to access, ruins remain remarkably intact for being 1300 or more years old. Well worth the effort, once you know where to look and climb.
It’s called “Three Finger Ruin” which is named from the eastern view of these three towers visible from the down stream view. Coming in from the west these signature towers are distinctive enough to locate the ruin. One thing we realized just as we climbed out of the canyon floor was that this hidden micro-climate was almost the same elevation as Durango.
And in case you wondered what the solar barn raising scene in Durango was, here a 36 panel 11.2kW system we put up just before leaving for the Bears Ears.