Saturday, May 4, 2013

Canyon de Chelly Amazing and deeply spiritual place

For over 30 years, Sraddha has dreamed of visiting Canyon de Chelly.  We tried 2 other times but had to forego the visit mainly due to time and distance.  This time we planned our northward journey route right through.  We departed Catalina State park after an extended visit wherein I had flown home to keep a presence at office in Ananda Village as I do regularly while traveling.  Sraddha enjoyed her time exploring, hiking, visiting friends.  During this time, the founder of our Ananda Village community, Swami Kriyananda, passed away.  As a result and for some other reasons I will share later, we elected to cut our 3 month trip short foregoing New Mexico until next winter and head home a month early.

Tunnel Overlook
We postponed our departure one day because the Camera Club of Tucson was holding a photoshoot early Sunday morning which I wanted to attend.  See link here for photos.

We drove up the eastside of Arizona through Oracle, Globe landing in Holbrook, Arizona, late in afternoon.  Found an RV park where we could get the Verizon mifi working "ok" so could check email and catch up on Monday business.  Nice to have easy drive but some personal business things kept us busy, so no blogging.

Wind had whipped up during our trip north the next day from Holbrook to Chinle on the Navajo Nation. Beautiful trip through stark red rock washes.  Glad it was behind us most of the way.  Arriving in Chinle, we drove over to the campground near the visitor's center.  Canyon de Chelly National Monument was established and seems to be maintained by the Park service, however the visitor center, and campgrounds seem to be run by local Navajo natives.  Anyone can drive along the north and south roads which overlook the 2 main canyons running east/west to form a "Y" at the western end just outside Chinle.

Once camped, we braved the howling 40 mph winds to drive along the south rim with 7 overlooks. Dust had really kicked up by now which made the canyon look almost ethereal.

The next day, in order to enter into the canyon through the west, we had to hire a native guide.  We chose Antelope House tours and our guide's name was Brandon.  He is a young native american man whose great-grandfather drove wagons with horses through the canyon and whose mother owns some land way up canyon.  We visited this land as well as his Auntie's land called "Antelope House" where we got some native fry bread as our lunch.

With Brandon as our guide we set off into the canyon right down through the running creek bed.  He was a little like a riverboat pilot navigating the sandbars and quicksand.  I would have been stuck in 5 minutes without him.  Glad he was there.

Entering a river crossing.  road to left of tree
Not sure how far we drove up the north canyon, or "Canyon del Muerto" (Canyon of the dead).  Think about 12 miles or so.  This canyon has been occupied since the Navajo existed and way before with Anazazi indians and many other descendent tribes.  Mostly co-exising peacefully until arrival of Spanish bout 300 yrs ago (Not clear on my history but around then).

The Spanish arrived and saw the beautiful walls of the buildings built up in the rocks that were coated with  "gold-like" mixture which they thought was gold.  Such a fixation they had for gold so they raided the people and caused all kinds of issues.  Anyway, the natives have been farming this land for 100's if not 1000's of years which was obvious from the many ruins high up on the cliffs.  These ruins age ranged from 500-1000 yrs depending on how high up the cliff's.  The water had carved out the canyon since thereby lowering the canyon floor.  Water had moved the sand/silt down river so more often than not, the canyon walls went right down to the canyon floor.

All in all, it was a very fun long day.  I drove about 30 miles through the canyon floor with 45 river crossings.  more pix here

Digging out from sand.  took about 30 minutes
Oh yes, we did get stuck once.

Now onto SE Utah

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