Support beams at Square Tower.

There is something quixotic (oxymoronic?) about preserving ruins.  Especially sandstone ruins, patched with clay and mud, and built below large sandstone cliffs. Everything is moving. Everything is collapsing. The mesa is a great sand-filled wave, cresting in slow motion.  And if you sit still, you can watch it roll.

Wild horses are considered an invasive species at Mesa Verde (here is  one we saw above Mug House). According to the Denver Post,

Besides damaging water lines and ice machines outside tourist facilities, they [horses] have collided with vehicles and torn up wires at a weather station. They have also compacted the ground over some unexcavated archaeological sites.

Maybe I can be one of those cool photographers who do everything in black and white, just like Ansel Adams? Let me Google him. Hmmm. Ansel Adams said, “a true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.”

Oops.

In the cliff above Spruce Tree House, a pinyon pine can be seen growing out of the rock (top right corner). In the bottom left corner can be seen its roots breaking through. Eventually the tree will cause the cliff to collapse.  When asked about the tree, the ranger shrugged. “It’s winning,” he said with a smile.

At Mesa Verde, some cliff dwellings simply can’t be saved. For these structures, you can sit off to the side and watch the buildings collapse, stone by stone, in real time.

What is that white line in the rock?  A vein of quartz? Nope. Salt deposits?  Nope.  It’s caulk.  The Parks Department is trying to save the ruins with Liquid Nails.