[Story continued from Part 1]
After lunch we drove over to the north rim and planned to hit all of the overlooks.
Like an amateur, I forgot my long lens at home and cursed myself every time I couldn’t get a closer shot of the distant ruins.
The quarter-mile hike to view the Antelope House ruins offered beautiful vertical canyon walls, petroglyphs and a crumbled three story structure among other shells of buildings.
The Antelope House ruin takes its name from the antelope paintings drawn on a nearby canyon wall, believed to date back to the 1830s.
Archaeologists discovered the remains of an earlier pit house dating from 693 A.D. beneath the ruins of the Antelope House. The structure was abandon by 1260 thought to be due to flooding, drought or disease.
The Tomb of the Weaver, discovered in the 1920s by archeologists, is an ancient tomb located across the wash from the Antelope House. The well-preserved body of an older man wrapped in a blanket of golden eagle feathers and accompanied by cornmeal, shelled and husked corn, pine nuts, beans, salt, and thick skeins of cotton was discovered in the tomb.
Navajo Fortress, a huge red-sandstone butte that can be seen from the lookout, was used by the Navajos as protection from attackers. A steep trail and system of log ladders led to the top of the butte, and by hauling the ladders up behind them, the Navajo could escape from any pursuers. [Source]
The discovery of two mummies confined to burial urns below the ruins gave Mummy Cave Overlook its name. Archaeological evidence specifies that the enormous amphitheater consisting of two caves was occupied for 1,000 years, from A.D. 300 to 1300.
Within the two caves and on the shelf between are 80 rooms, including three kivas. A kiva is a chamber, built completely or partly underground, used for religious ceremonies. A considerable amount of the original plasterwork is still intact and indicates that the structures were vibrantly decorated.
Mummy Cave Ruin is tucked within the shadows of the plunging canyon wall. At the top the sandstone looks like buttercream frosting spread on by a giant butter knife. A few lonely bushes gather in scarce groups at the top.
Massacre Cave Overlook acquired its name after an 1805 Spanish military expedition killed more than 115 Navajos at the site.
The story goes: At the time, the Navajo had aggressively been raiding Spanish settlements that were violating their territory. While accounts of the battle at Massacre Cave vary, one version (and the most popular) claim there were only women, children and elders taking shelter in the cave, but official Spanish records claim 90 warriors and 25 women and children were killed.
The Navajo call the alcove Adah Aho’ doo’ nili meaning Two Fell Off, referring to a brave Navajo woman who grappled with a soldier and tumbled to her death, dragging the enemy with her.
Also at Massacre Cave Overlook is Yucca Cave, occupied 1,000 years ago, can also be viewed from the overlook.
After the exploration of the North Rim we headed to the visitors center so my son could claim his Junior Ranger status with a badge, activity book and postcard.
Back at Spider Campground the monsoon rains gave us a reprieve as we cooked bratwurst and two cans of beans on a cast iron skillet under a clear sky.
Horses roamed into our campsite paying no attention to us as they munched on low-lying brush.
Tomorrow morning we planned to hike to Ledge Ruin and explore the south rim before heading home.
After dinner, I fell asleep watching the luminosity of the campfire illuminate the tent thorough the open zippered window.