Double Stack Ruins (Comb Ridge)

The hike to “Double Stack” is a short one, a little over a half mile to the ruins from a parking area off of Lower Butler Wash Road. The terrain before entering the canyon is for the most part wide open desert, with a short walk across slickrock. Where the trail drops into the canyon, the vegetation becomes denser, but isn’t problematic. This is also where the first ruins in the canyon are located. A still standing, and very primitive looking, Navajo hogan.

Hogans were small structures made by placing a few poles (ie: large branches) together, and covering them with sticks, leaves, and mud. They were traditionally used as homes, but there were other types of hogans as well, for instance the “male hogan” was used as a spiritual retreat. Hogans used for housing were traditionally one family dwellings. A fire was kept in the middle of the hogan, and people slept on mats with their feet toward the fire. Woman utilized the north side of the hogan, keeping the families cooking utensils with her, while the men kept to the south side.

 

Navajo Hogan: Hogans were small structures made by placing a few poles (ie: large branches) together, and covering them with sticks, leaves, and mud.

Navajo Hogan: Hogans were small structures made by placing a few poles (ie: large branches) together, and covering them with sticks, leaves, and mud.

 

The hogan of “Double Stack Canyon” is stripped down to nothing but the poles that held it together. Gone is the mud, leaves, and sticks that once provided the finishing touches. It is astonishing to think that somehow these poles have managed to stand in an upright position for a minimum of a couple hundred years. When we say, “they sure don’t build things like they used to,” that is indeed a fact.

Continuing further down the canyon, after a bend or two the “Double Stack” ruins come into view.  Sitting high above the canyon floor on a ledge there is what appeared to be a large square structure, along with an additional small structure beside it. These ruins are inaccessible today, during their in-habitation they were likely reached via a ladder, but there is no ladder today.

 

The upper ruins of “Double Stack” are high above the canyon floor.

The upper ruins of “Double Stack” are high above the canyon floor.

 

Zoomed in close-up of the upper ruins.

Zoomed in close-up of the upper ruins.

 

Further down the canyon a lower set of ruins comes into view on the shelf directly above the wash. Like the ruins near the “Wolfman Panel,” these ruins are in rough shape, for most part consisting of an occasional still standing wall. Large pinyon pine logs that were used as beams in the construction remain untouched, still built into the masonry work. Within the ruin there are extensive amounts of pottery sherds, and 800+ year old corn cobs discarded on the ground.

The Anasazi were known farmers, having grown corn, squash, and beans. They were also the first known people to have domesticated turkeys, having done so some 2,000 years ago. The corn cobs among the ruins are certainly artifacts, a product of the Anasazi’s farming skills.

 

Over-view of the lower ruins.

Over-view of the lower ruins.

 

Walls of the lower “Double Stack” ruins.

Walls of the lower “Double Stack” ruins.

 

An 800 year old corn cob.

An 800 year old corn cob.

 

There are dozens of orange and white hand prints spread out across the wall, behind the crumbling cliff dwelling. There is so much here, so much of those people who had lived here hundreds, or even thousands of years ago. The homes that they built, the pottery that they created, the crops that they grew, all with their hands…and here they are, those very same hands, the paint bleeding into the walls.

 

Hand print pictographs, likely those of the people who built “Double Stack.”

Hand print pictographs, likely those of the people who built “Double Stack.”

 

Close-up of hand print pictographs.

Close-up of hand print pictographs.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

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