Judgement day. Mesa Verde National Park…The Balcony House hike. The wife gets another chance to overcome her fear of heights! Annnnnd she passed. I'm on my own as she's probably drinking mimosas back at the lodge. Oh well, let's do it.
As we explained in our last post, we narrowly secured scheduled hike tickets to a few of the hikes/cliff dwellings in the park. Make sure you do this as you enter the park - if you wait till later you'll be at the top of the mountain with a long drive back to the beginning to make it happen.
I showed up at the Balcony House parking lot and hung out until the scheduled start of the hike. You walk in a decent-size group with a park ranger for a little bit before you start climbing up ladders!
Once you're in, you spend some time exploring and learning about the many rooms, kivas, plazas, and history of the 13th century cliff dwellers, ancestors of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico & Arizona. Time is of the essence as there is another group on your tail. Don't expect a lot of individual exploration on this hike - you're in and out.
Exiting is a little trickier than the ladders at the beginning of the house. First you squeeze, and I mean squeeze, through some super tight cliff walls. Next you climb a few more ladders, these a little more exposed (to death). You arrive back up top just a few clicks from where you started.
I'm so glad I went on the hike. The wifey was right in not going ~ the heights would have freaked her out (and the small spaces). To those with similar fears - prepare to overcome them or hang back at the lodge and have a mimosa (or just an orange juice if you're little:). Next up: more hiking in the park. Tune in Monday!
~Paul (only) ETC