When we arrived at the Mesa Verde Visitors Center, Brooke jumped out and bought tickets for the cliff dwelling tour that best fit our schedule which ended up being a walking/climbing tour of Balcony House.
I read this description after we did the tour:
The Balcony House tour requires people to descend a 100 foot long staircase into the canyon to get below the dwelling, climb a 32 foot tall ladder, crawl through a 12 foot long tunnel, and then climb an additional 60 feet on ladders and stone steps. The Balcony House tour is one of the most challenging in the park.
Te has been training for this his whole life.
Park Ranger Allison involved Te right away and made him the line leader; a task which he interpreted as giving directions to everyone else on the tour and making sure everyone followed the rules – there were a couple moments when I was extremely thankful that despite his great improvements through speech therapy most people still can’t understand what he’s saying.
a quick synopsis of the tour:
100 foot staircase? No problem.
32 foot ladder? Piece of cake.
Tour of an 800 year old cliff dwelling? Amazing
12 foot tunnel? Makes you question your relationship with french fries, but doable.
And then we got to the exit.
I saw my life and everything I’ve invested in parenting these two boys for the past 6 years flash before my eyes. This would be the part of the tour description that reads “then climb an additional 60 feet on ladders and stone steps.” I would like to add to that description, “on the side of a freakin’ cliff with the wind gusting and nothing to cling to but some metal fence that wouldn’t hold Granny’s Shih Tzu but is supposed to catch you if you fall,” but apparently that’s implied when you visit “Cliff Dwellings.”
In retrospect the level of actual danger in no way corresponded to the level of panic it induced in me – that is unless you’ve ever done any activity with Te and understand his uncanny ability to add an element of danger to tasks as simple as feeding a gold fish.
The Smithsonian calls Mesa Verde one of the 28 places to see before you die. So I’m glad we saw it. And I’m glad we didn’t die seeing it.