Like Sandy, I really enjoyed the hike out to Soda Point at Mesa Verde yesterday morning. I took the tripod to try to get pictures of a tour group going through Balcony House, which is only visible from there. Unfortunately, I went to the overlook that doesn't give the best view into Balcony House. So, we'll have to take that hike again and use the other overlook. ;-}
From the bottom up, the ranger gathers his group for orientation and scene-setting at the top of the steps before going down to the level they'll walk along to ascend into the cliff dwelling. The steps you see are a small set; a much longer set is along the trail to the left.
After going down the steps, there's a pleasant walk for several hundred yards along the base of the cliff to the spring below Balcony House.
The middle picture shows the 30-foot log ladder one climbs to get into the site. After getting off the ladder, you go through a passageway behind a two-story structure, climb another short ladder and come out into the first courtyard, which has a wall along the cliff side of the courtyard, as seen in the next-to-the-top photo.
After going behind some other rooms and a second courtyard, the tour group crawls through a tunnel (two walls with doorways that control passage through the space between that huge cliff-flake and the cliff face it leans against ... you can stand up in the middle) and then climbs ladders and stone steps in the cliff-face, shown in the top picture.
And the dust remained in the air all day, as it does today. Are clear skies a thing of the past as of this spring? tv