Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hiking in Canyon de Chelly

We lived in the lap of luxury, today, and slept in until 7:45am! We dined in once more--on fruit and cereal. By 9am we were exiting the motel parking lot where we encountered...

...A Horse With No Name. We took this to be a very good omen.

One of our first views down into Canyon de Chelly driving the South Rim.

How Green Was My Valley

Gear Girl, Modeling Clothing and Gear by REI

Sunlight Shows Through Fauna in CdC.

We saved the South Rim of Canyon de Chelly and the hike down White House Trail for today because the drive is longer and we wanted to be rested, it has a trail that you can walk without a guide, and--at its end--it has the only ruins you can approach without a guide.

Heading Down White House Trail

Looking Down the Trail

Chuck on the Trail

White House Ruins

At the end of the trail, Claire decided she wanted to purchase a memento of our day and was taken by a piece of Navajo art by Sam. It was a painting on sandstone, telling the story of a hunt. It had a short explanation on the back of the piece. Sam was a delightful, cheerful 16 year old who plays basketball and track and hikes in this area almost every day.


A Little Local Color

Claire at the Second Tunnel on the Trail

Looking Up In the Canyon

Sitting in the Shade of an Alcove

Long View of Canyon

Balanced Rock Art Along the Trail

Twisted Rocks

At one of the overlooks, we saw for the first time these clever view finders that guided your vision to the location of the site of interest. We had brought our binoculars, today, and were then able to easily locate the sites.

View Finders

Spider Woman is incredibly important in Navajo Legend--she gave them the gift of weaving. In legend, she lives on top of this 800 foot sandstone spire--one of the most distinctive features of the canyon, rising from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley.

Spider Rock

Navajo Woman Playing Flute at the Edge of the Canyon de Chelly

Having finished our day's outing we looked forward to coffee at Changing Woman Coffee house at the start of the South Rim Road. We had tried to stop there, yesterday, but she was closed. Apparently, business is especially slow this year; she even asked us if we knew why. We had two excellent Chai Lattes. Frommer's Guide was right-on about this place. Owner Victoria Begay can be found in a Hogan under the trees across from the national monument's Cottonwood Campground. The coffee is organic, and the cafe owner, Victoria Begay, also offers a variety of four-wheel-drive, hiking and camping tours.

Changing Woman Coffee Sign

Changing Woman is a Goddess in Navajo legend. She was found by First Man and First Woman, who had never had a child of their own. People say she lives from infancy to old age every day and renews her youth with each dawn. The ritual ceremony for her transition to womanhood is performed to this day and brings families together in a celebration of continuity of life and spiritual communion known as Kinaalda.

Victoria Begay, the Owner of The Changing Woman Cafe with Her Dog

This was our view of Changing Woman's backyard from our table. We ended the day's outing with another horse--a perfect circle of experience.

A Horse Named 'Comanche'

Canyon de Chelly is one of our favorite spots so far. It is the Grand Canyon writ small; but this is a good thing--this intimacy. We now understand why our friends Tai and Letha love this place so much. It is uncrowded--at least for us at this time of year. The people are friendly, the scenery is stunning. We had a pleasant encounter with Bob and his wife from Alice Springs, Australia, on the trail and at one of the overlooks. They have the outgoing charm we have come to expect of all Aussies. Better still, we had absolutely no problem understanding them, despite their accent.

Smell the pungent Juniper
Ancient black rock branches on the distant horizon
A dark cloud above means rain will soon be upon us
The awesome monolith at your feet is Tse Na ashjee ii--Spider Rock
Holy Spider Woman is an important deity in Navajo legend
It is she who taught the People how to weave
There is purity and strength here
And places sacred to the People
Places strong in the oneness of the earth and the sky and of all things

~ Interpretive Sign at Spider Rock Overlook