We walked out of Zuni Pueblo and headed east on Highway 53 in the direction of Ramah . There was a slow, steady, almost imperceptible climb with beautiful sandstone bluffs running along both sides of the road. In the side of some of these bluffs are what appear to be caves … what we called rock houses as boys back home. Thoughts swirl. Surely the ancient ones looked at them with the same inquisitive nature and sought shelter in them as they passed. A Native American road crew took lunch as we walked by. We discussed their local legends about these caves in the cliffs. Such wondrous places spark everyones imagination. Something tells the heart that if one spent the day hiking up to these cliffside shelters a sign of those who passed by so long ago might await … especially for one traveling by foot.
We made camp 16 miles from Zuni. The night was our coldest yet. I awoke to heavy frost on the inside of the tent. The altitude is now 7000 feet. After shaking off the cold, we headed five miles to Ramah. Some of us stopped at the Stagecoach Cafe for another breakfast before heading 14 miles more to El Moro National Monument… a towering sandstone cliff face that holds inscriptions of travelers passing by over the many centuries. They sought the predictable water source which exists as a sandstone well at its base. One spanish signature predates the pilgrims landing. Older still are the indian petroglyphs that appear amongst the signatures of spanish colonial governors, explorers, and early settlers. For the Spanish it was common to write: “Paso Por Aqui” … Passed by here. It feels as if it has been the same for us as it was for them. We have passed by with our footsteps. I am blessed to be here by my own power and sense what our time means when we look at these signs of humanity in the weathered sandstone of the high desert. Our campsite was a mile down the road at The Ancient Way Cafe. Best restaurant in 100 miles and great company from the manager, Maqui and his pastry chef, Red Wolf.