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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Misadventures Of My Canyon Hike.

Hopefully this map will fit and be readable to those who are interested.You can see the shape of the canyons and the north and south rim drives.Tuesday I covered all the north rim lookouts and showed the photos in the last blog entry.


Todays entry will cover yesterdays misadventure’s in hiking.After another cold night of frost I got a fairly early start about 9am.It was only 37 degrees F as I drove out the south rim drive all the way to the Spider Rock Overlook.

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I had the place to myself as the cold wind whipped up from the valley below.But what a view of Spider Rock,a sandstone spire that rises 800ft (240m) from the canyon floor.


I then worked my way back checking out all the other lookouts until I got back to the White House Ruins Overlook where the hiking trail is located.This is the only place that you are allowed onto the canyon floor unescorted.

By now I realized my heavy winter jacket was going to be necessary.So with a sandwich in the pocket,I set out.By this time there were several others prepping to set out also.Below is the view of where I’m going..You can see the slit in the rock just above the trees centre right.The canyon isn’t quite as deep in this area.I think about 700ft.


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Well I passed the first sign near the parking lot and followed the rim looking for the second sign at the beginning of the decent….It was here that I was getting too close to the edge with a 700ft drop and moved away from the rim toward a drop down in the rocks that looked like a pathway……carelessly I descended into this 5 ft. drop down and lost my balance,landing heavily on my jaw,wrist and camera,and came up bleeding like a stuck pig from my lower jaw.I used kleenex over the cut until I figured the flow had slowed up a bit,then along came a couple of young native fellows and I asked them to take a look and see how bad it was….They said it just looked like a scrape and wasn’t bad…..I really wanted to do this hike and didn’t want to abort the venture so carried on holding the kleenex to my chin.I guess I was a little in shock and disoriented because I spent the next 30 minutes walking in the wrong direction……After awhile an old toothless native came along and told me that the trail was away back in the other direction…..Sheesh! I’m going to be exhausted before I even start at this rate. Finally I saw people again and they were standing at the second sign just before the decent.And what a decent it was.

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The section on the left wasn’t bad but the area in the RH photo was downright scary with a gusting wind and a big drop if you slip…My concern is that I have inner ear damage and stagger at the best of times,in fact I’d never pass a ( heel to toe) test at a “Police Roadblock.”…..Drunk or sober.

Below is a shot looking back up at the area I just descended from.


Finally almost to the canyon floor and with all the huffing and puffing coming down in this high altitude environment…….What's going back up going to be like?

Just this much more descending to do.


Finally the canyon floor and a short walk to the White House Ruins.

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When I reached the kiosk area where the Navajo sell their wares,I realized that I had a chin covered with blood…and a nice young Navajo lady named Loraine came to my rescue and supplied me with a band-aid,for which in appreciation gave her $5.00,which made her very happy since she didn't ask for anything.Here is Loraine.


Now on to the ruins a few yards ahead.


I will finish rambling on about the rest of my day with a few more shots of the hiking trail….And by the way the hike back up wasn't all that bad in the huffin and puffin department.

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After getting back to the truck,I found that the band-aid wasn't staying on because of the beard and it was still bleeding,so in desperation when I got back to the campground,I made the decision that after almost 13 years, the beard was going to have to come off.

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Well I got out the razor (barber type)and did the deed……Gawd! what a sight after all this time….I didn't realize how old and ugly I had become.

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That last shot above was one of the scariest areas to stagger along,and a good drop too if you trip…..And here’s something even more scary below.


By the way the camera survived but is scarred up a bit…just like me…I may still need stitches……Would a scar make me any less beautiful…In love 

Well I’m hopefully off today to some warmer environs,so my stop tonight should be in Albuquerque New Mexico,where the weather forecast is sunny and warm for the next few days,then tomorrow on to Roswell for the weekend…..And yes I believe all that alien stuff from back in the 40’s in Roswell and want to see the tourist traps that promote this stuff…..Until next time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Canyon De Chelly National Monument….Another Pleasant Surprise

(Pronounced de Shay)  And a free campground to boot.


Its free,with water and flush biffies…..And a dump station.

On top of that its in a beautiful cottonwood setting,which is why they probably call it “Cottonwood Campground”Winking smile……A choice of sunny or shaded sites all on beautiful new blacktop.And only a few people each night…Lots of choices.I think the reason for everything being free is the fact that its a National Monument on Navajo land.


I arrived Monday,just after lunch, as a vicious,cold rain storm was approaching.Clearing in the evening and plunging to an overnight low of 27f (-3c)The whole way from Monument Valley,I was dodging bad storms and watching for tornado’s sneaking up behind me as some pretty mean looking clouds were around.

On that trip I passed through the town of Mexican Hat Utah and saw its namesake on the far hill,Mexican Hat Rock.


Tuesday morning dawned sunny and cold,struggling to reach a high of 54 for the day,but that's ok for driving and sightseeing….I decided to take the north rim highway this day….The visitor centre is closed for renovations,so I had to do a little on-line research… To set the scene,the canyon sort of starts here at the campsite,but is not deep in the local area.The surrounding landscape starts rising immediately going from 5500ft here at the campsite to over 7000ft when you climb up to the back end of the canyon,some 26 miles back.So when you get up there and look over the edge…….Its a looooong way down.


See that little black dot in the field in the lower centre of the picture?

This is it.


You can walk right up to the edge and look straight down a 1000ft and fall that far if you wish.But like the guy I was talking too said……After the first 20 ft.,It doesn't really matter how far down you fall.With my vertigo,I wasn’t too brave…… but It was interesting to look straight down and see ravens flying 500ft below me.

As you can see its a very lush ranching valley that stays that way all year round,even when the snow flies at the top.So they say.


This canyon valley floor has seen continuous  habitation for over 2000 years,from mud huts on the valley floor to cave dwelling,and now ranch homes.Below are some shots of Yucca cave and Mummy cave,with the ruins.The Mummy Cave was where they discovered well preserved human remains.

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This was an interesting little story if you can read it.


And here’s the spot.That cave in the centre.


For those interested,I found all over this high altitude desert country,that the trees seem so lush and healthy.The pine forests are so green,unlike back home with all the beetle kill.Even here among all this sandstone,that healthy tree’s,mostly Pinion and Juniper,thrive so well.

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And for the birders,yes there were many around but they never sit still long enough to get a photo.I saw what looked like a flock of Junco's,but not sure,also a small woodpecker.

Some more ruins at the base of a cliff,with a distant and close-up shot.I sure like my Canon’s 20XZoom.

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And of course the almost famous “Red Rag”must be in the picture.


And on the way back to the truck,I stopped to talk to a young Navajo,Richard Charley, selling his wares,and purchased a small painting on a piece of sandstone,that he did.He explained what each symbol meant.They were old Anasazi markings.


For a Navajo souvenir,it was worth 5 bucks.That small woven material behind him was like 45 bucks and only a foot square,so I took the rock.I had to ask him if the woven piece had a made in China sticker on it……SmileI got a bad sense of humour.

So today I will go to the south rim drive and try my hiking expertise and take the self guided trail down to the canyon floor to see the White House Ruins…..And to quote a very funny lady friend who took this hike a week ago……”It was almost an orgasmic experience”……..So we will see.Smile with tongue out

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monument Valley Tribal Park……All I Can Say Is……..WOW!

I arrived early Saturday afternoon after a Wal-mart stop in Page and a Burger King break in the Navajo town of Kayenta.By the way it was my first fast food stop of the trip.

The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park sits partially straddling the Utah/Arizona border up in 4 corners country.The entry fee is 5 bucks,(In love no pun intended) and the camping area,10 bucks a night is just a big dirt parking lot….But wow! The view while parked here sure makes up for it.



Its also a parking lot for a hiking trail the begins here, and there have been many horseman coming in with their trailers and heading out across the desert like the 7th Cavalry.

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I only shared the big parking lot with 4 other campers the first night so it was just like spaced out boondocking.But last night another class-c rental decided to park 25 ft. away…….sheeesh! Again?

I’m so overwhelmed with this area,as an old western movie buff,I’ve been waiting a long time to see this place where John Wayne made so many movies using this as a backdrop.In fact this past summer during the slow TV season,I watched about 4 old movies filmed here and it just wetted my appetite even more to see this part of the country.In fact one of them won a cinematography award for filming in a thunder and lightning storm.They wanted to run for cover while filming,but the director thought it would be a great effect so they kept on filming and it was spectacular.The sad thing is I cant remember which John Wayne movie it was….maybe The Searchers?

On Sunday morning I was up before dawn to get some sunrise shots over the Mittens(the butte’s)



Thank you Picasa for your enhancement abilities on these automatic point and shoot shots.

Later in the morning when it warmed up a bit,I set off with the truck to travel the 17 mile round trip road out into the desert.This is the only one that the Navajo allow you to be on and all I can say is it was the roughest excuse for a road that I’ve ever driven on, with huge imbedded  rocks and sand……It sort of reminded me of a road construction detour in Mexico.In loveMost of the driving was at just above walking speed with a few stretches where I got up to 12 miles per hour.I didn't think the truck could twist like that………Just to prove that I’m really here…..And that's not the road I’m talking about.


The 3 Sisters below.


Camel Butte below.


Not sure below.


Earlier I showed sunrise shots…’s the sunset shot.


And finally,across the parking lot and up the hill is the Visitor Centre complex with hotel and restaurant/gift shop.And a huge parking lot which most of the time is fairly full…..By the way……Bought the Tee shirt…..You know..binderdonedat…btts.


This is a small taste of the 90 photo’s and and about 15 video’s that I took for a keepsake of this wonderful place.

The weather has been cool and mostly sunny in the 50’s with fairly mild overnights, considering its above 5000ft……But man! Does that old desert wind ever howl at night.

This morning I’m off to Canyon de Shelly about 3 hours away.I’ll still be on the Navajo Nation……..All I can say is that this is one hellava big Rez.