Great Week At The Nature Of Poetry 2012
Spending a week in Canyon De Chelly immersed in home and culture of the Diné(Navajo) people can be a transforming experience for many people. This years The Nature Of Poetry: Exploring The Beautyway was week of poem making, story telling, photographing, camping, hiking, and ancient trail climbing. For the first two days we had to contend with extremely high winds which made setting up tents, and keeping them up, a real challenge. We stayed on land cared for by my close friends and our guides, Jon and Lupita McClanahan.
When the wind subsided on the third day, we took a hike to Box Canyon, a private small side canyon by Junction Ruin(at the intersection of Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto) that has a lot of great petroglyphs and pictographs amongst the ancient ruins.
There were also many Pear Cactus blooms around, most of them are yellow, some are red,
but this one was a lime green and waiting for bees to fly in, get some nectar, and then carry pollen away to other blooms.
While we in Box Canyon we saw a number of emergency vehicles pass by, moving as quickly as possible in the sand wash that is the canyon floor. We later learned of a tragic accident in which a tour truck carrying thirteen passengers lost steering control and rolled down an embankment. To make matters worse, the accident was at least ten miles into Canyon Del Muerto which complicated the rescue efforts. One of the passengers shared his terrifying experience here.
The following day, our group make the trek up and down the Yeibichei trail.
This ancient trail has hundreds of foot steps and hand holds chipped out of the sandstone that is used to get from the canyon floor to the mesa three hundred feet above. As a child, Lupita would make the trek up and down this trail multiple times a day to tend to the sheep and goats that were kept on the mesa. At the top of the trail is a stone birthing hogan(an eight sided home build from cedar logs and mud, or in this case, stone and logs) used many years ago by Diné women. When in labor, they would climb the trail as an aid in the process and give birth in the hogan.
Later in the week we took a long drive up Canyon De Chelly to Spider Rock, the spirtual center of the Diné people.
This monolith is over seven hundred feet tall and the surrounding canyon walls are over a thousand feet high.
In the midst of this grandeur I found a small piece of cottonwood tree bark with some colorful lichen. On the way back to camp we stopped at Window Rock, scrambled up the steep trail, and enjoyed the view down Canyon(the photo at the top of the post).
Later in the week, some the group helped Lupita plant the corn field. The corn will be ready for harvest in September.
As our wonderful week came to a close, we all posed for a picture under Dog Rock, before heading home.
For one of our group, home is in Germany and this was her first visit to the United States.
For more photographs of Canyon De Chelly in different times of year, please visit my online portfolio.