On Saturday, the School for Advanced Research sponsored a field trip to Tsi-p'in-owinge Pueblo. Tsi-p'in-owinge means Village at Flaking Stone Mountain. It was probably inhabited from the late thirteenth century through the mid-fifteenth, abandoned before the Spanish came to New Mexico.
Tsi-p'in-owinge is on a mesa above the town of Cañones, above Abiquiu, between Ghost Ranch and Cerro Pedernal. Georgia O'Keeffe fans will recognize some of those places. Cañones is a very tucked-away New Mexico village. The trail to Tsi-p'in-owinge used to start in Cañones. But too many people looking in windows, asking directions, disrupted the residents' lives, so we used the new trail, eight switchbacks down from a still-higher mesa. We stopped at Bode's General Store in Abiquiu for delicious breakfast burritos, and then drove up a Forest Service road to the trailhead.
We could see across the valley to Abiquiu Reservoir on the Chama River and Ghost Ranch beyond, and to Pedernal in the other direction. The first photo shows Cañones in the lower right-hand corner. The mesa on which Tsi-p'in-owinge sits is the red-sided one in the lower foreground. Close inspection shows that I was sufficiently overwhelmed by the scenery that I didn't get any photos of the ruins, which contain many, many worked blocks of tuff. The village was on this side of the mesa, out of the photo to the left, and was on the mesa top with rooms also built along the sides of the cliff.
The next photo is, of course, Pedernal, from the mesa near the village. O'Keeffe claimed that God told her that Pedernal would be hers if she painted it enough, and its distinctive flat top shows up in many of her paintings.
We tend not to take photos of what is too familiar, and I found that Tsi-p'in-owinge looked a lot (really a lot) like Tsankawi, which I have visited too many times to count. The rock is the same Bandelier tuff, the result of the explosion of the Jemez volcano a little over a million years ago. The vertical sides of the mesa are the same as on the road to Los Alamos. So I have no photos of the ruins.
Tsi-p'in-owinge still had pottery and flint shards on the ground, just as Tsankawi did when I first came to New Mexico. "Take only pictures" hasn't worked all that well where it's easy for people to walk to.
The flint was lovely pink and white, from Cerro Pedernal, whose name means "Flint Mountain" in English.
I also got some photos of plants. We hiked down (and up!) the north side of the mesa we started from, and the soil is always more developed on the north side. We had also had rain last week, but the trail and plants were fairly dry. The paintbrush is near the ruins. The next is a clematis on the north side trail, and the last is a tiny little succulent, maybe a centimeter across, living in the mossy shadow of a boulder.