Did you know that last Saturday was Get Outdoors Day? Neither did I, but I managed to take full advantage of it anyway. I went to Bandelier National Monument for the first time, but I missed the main attraction and went straight to the backcountry for a hike with 2 park rangers, a federal park law enforcement agent, a park ecologist, other park employees, and some friends from LANL.
We started on Burnt Mesa Trail, a relatively flat trail that rolls along until you reach an archeological site. We had amazing views of the borders of the park and learned some history from the rangers as we walked along.
Afterwards, we left the maintained trail and crossed a side canyon.
After crossing the canyon, we visited ancient eagle traps. The natives would dig two side-by-side man-sized holes about 6 feet down into the bedrock. When it was time to capture an eagle, the warriors would wait in the holes that had been covered with sticks and brush and a dead rabbit. Since eagles are scavengers, they would come down to the rabbits. The warriors would reach up and grab the eagle’s legs with their hands. Afterwards, the feathers were harvested and the bird was released alive.
There are many signs in Bandelier of the devastating fire that swept through last year.