Sunday, February 7, 2016

Balcony House (aka "the craziest thing we've ever done")

The beginning of our Mesa Verde Balcony House tour.  Too late to turn back now.

Here is the 35-foot (replica) ladder that we all had to climb.  Our plan was to send the kids up first, with Marcus and I down below to catch anyone who might fall.  Marcus had Gemma right in front of him, and Celeste on his back.  I was to have 3-year-old Sedric in front of me.  And remember, I am slightly afraid of heights.

Here we go...
 At that point I had to put the camera away and concentrate on keeping Seddy safe.  We counted the ladder rungs as we climbed.  It worked like a charm!  That, and "don't look down" was good advice.  In this case, I didn't look AROUND since this ladder is over 600 feet above the bottom of the canyon.  It seriously felt like we would fall over 600 feet if we slipped.  Really, it would've only been 35 feet, onto a concrete platform, but oddly that was not very comforting.

Once we reached the top, we had to squeeze through a tight "front door" that was probably designed as a defense.  It would've worked on me, if we had the option to turn around.

a tiny ladder as well
 We made it!!  This was the first small section where the entire tour could fit.  We got an informative lecture and got to take a moment to look around.

looking back

Next we had to do a little more climbing to go to the second section.  Even this was scary, with a baby and a toddler.  The footing was very uneven and the dust made the "steps" slippery.  Marcus' choice of Toms sneakers was not very wise, he discovered.  But (spoiler alert) we made it through.

At this point we learned about the kiva (pictured) although truthfully I don't remember very much since I was just concentrating on keeping my kids away from the edge.

(an nice man offered to take our photo)
no guard rails
Now, for the "tight squeeze."  It was something like 18 inches across and 3 feet tall, at the smallest point.  Marcus went first, then Sedric, with me and Celeste following them.

Very unflattering for the adults.  But imagine
me doing this with a BABY hanging like
a joey from a pouch...

I decided to put away my camera for a while to concentrate on crawling through this tunnel without dropping Celeste.  

Bunny coming out of the tunnel.
 The worst part of the tunnel wasn't the size (I am not claustrophobic) but it was the fact that once we were through, we were "greeted" with MORE LADDERS AND CLIFFS before reaching the exit.

A nice fellow tourist offered to take my camera to get a few pictures of me.  While they were largely unflattering, I did include some to show how CRAZY THIS WAS that I was basically ROCK CLIMBING WHILE HOLDING A BABY.

This was the worst part, way worse than the ladder.  The side
of the canyon had little gouges instead of steps, and a rickety
old rail that was likely a WPA project.  The photo doesn't do
it justice.  It was terrifying.

For the life of me, I cannot imagine WHO thought it was a good idea to let the general public do this tour, much less a family with 6 young kids.

But we made it!  And after we got back to the top and could process a little, we realized that this was one amazing adventure.   I've done some adventurous stuff (zip lining in Costa Rica, white-water rafting, having 6 kids) but I think this takes the cake.

parting shot


  1. You are brave....especially crawling through that tunnel (yes, I am claustrophobic)! What an adventure :)

  2. Wow, I LOVE this description! When we went that week all the tours were full so we had to do the self-guided tour, though I tried everything out and even pregnant big mama technically could have made all of the obstacles. They said pregnant women have done it before, I would have totally done it. I'm glad you pushed your limits a little, and of course most glad everyone was OK!

  3. I'm glad you took pictures cause now I don't have to do it.