1 The back country east of Phoenix in the Tonto National Forest.
2 Climbing into the canyons on the east edge of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness is a three-dimensional experience.
3 The cliff walls are steep and multi-colored.
4 Life still finds a way to cling to the cliff face. Water seeping through cracks in rocks helps.
5 Loren appreciates the many-layered, 3D-ness of Pueblo Canyon.
6 To add to the natural beauty of the canyon are cliff dwellings—seen behind Loren—believed to be from the Salado people from about 900 years ago.
7 It's amazing that people could live on ledges as narrow as these, in inhospitable country. They were more easily defended, at least...
8 When there has been enough rain, the people could find running water in these canyons—like this waterfall—beyond the seepages commonly found in the walls.
10 Most of the structures of the cliff dwelling peoples are composed of rock held together by clay material. The dwellings contained cross beams, like the one shown here, for extra support or other unknown uses.
11 Jenny examines the wall of one dwelling.
12 When there's water, the canyon can be a surprisingly lively place.
13 Looking up near sunset.
14 The next day, we ventured up another, nearby canyon: Devil's Chasm.
15 Ben photographs some rock with amazing colors.
16 Pools of water cascade down the rock, creating eddies and pools along the way.
18 Looking back down part of what we climbed reveals the extreme changes in elevation that accompany this amazing terrain.
19 More layers. We were really climbing!
20 Some encouragement on the way up.
21 It was a good cloud day, too! You can also see the mesa, perhaps as far above us as we've already climbed from below.
22 Our final destination: a veritable castle built on a ledge. Storming this dwelling would be nearly impossible, and the overhang above it would prohibit dropping things on it even if someone were able to climb to the mesa another thousand feet higher.
23 Loren, Jenny, and Ben as we approach the (fortunately undefended) dwelling.
24 Ben peers from inside the cliff dwelling with its extensive series of rooms. This was like the penthouse suite.
25 Loren, Ben, and Jenny.
26 There used to be something like three stories to this dwelling, made of flat rocks supported by narrowly spaced cross beams. This was the only remaining floor we saw.
27 The rock colors vary so widely by layers. Geologists must love this place.