Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canyon de Chelly in October.

Jackson hosted us for three 12-hour days in the canyons.  We spent two on the Canyon del Muerto side and one in Canyon de Chelly.  Long days lurching around the dirt roads or swimming through knee deep sand in his Land Cruiser.  The truck handled it well in 2-wheel drive as we saved the 4-wheel for tight spots.  I was surprised after I got over the terror of driving off into what looked like impassable conditions.  The canyon entrance is about 200 yards wide, solid tire ruts from side to side through powdery white sand.  That condition continues for several miles.  Being in the canyon requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle and a Navajo Guide.  We were well prepped with film, food and water.

 Finger and toe man at Blue Bull Cave up the CDM side.  We mountain-goated 50 feet up the little slope after driving to the base of the cliff.  Park service is about to close this off.  The cave roof looks very unstable to me with a big crack at the back and one over the headwall.

8X10 on some bounce-light cottonwoods.

  The canyons have many ruin sites and wonderful cottonwood trees.  The spectacular cliffs are full of light both direct and bounced off the far side.  Every corner could take a day to explore visually though we kept moving.  Much of the canyon bottom is fenced off in family preserves but there is more than enough accessible to keep you busy.  I worked with my 5X7 Deardorff and black and white film.  The 8X10 made a couple of appearances.  All three of us were iphone-camming constantly.  I used mine to make notes, vacation photos and preview my shots.  I used the zoom function to approximate my lens selections on my 5X7.  It was like having instant polaroid.

Working out a pattern of patina-ed wall stripes.

First shot of the trip in the canyon.  Maybe should have gone with 8X10 on this one.  Negative looks great.  The clouds were moving in and out and I shot when the light was softer.

Lunching on the tailgate.  Got to wear a WWII vintage knife the whole time but only used it to square sandwiches and quarter salami
.

Jackson hiking through the start of the White House Ruin Trail.

iphone notes.

Morning light warm-up.  Ran about 37 degrees early and could stay cool and fleecy in the shade until 10 or so.

Slaving over a hot Hasselblad in CDM.

After a planetarium on the roof at Blue Bull in CDM.

Genius-level consulting.

Katie and Guide Brandon wait it out while the rest of us are in photo-crisis.


Guide Thurman and I went up a little Navajo-cut trail.  There's a Hasselblad negative of this.  Hope I polarized it for the tree's sake.

Jackson and I trudged up another 200 feet above our parking place.  By this time our guide had learned to stay in the car.  There's a nice ruin at the bottom of the cliff below the shadowed shape.  The little knob we were on was covered with flint chips and grinding stones.  Used the 450 to get to the shape in the wall.  Lit by canyon bounce-light from the right.

Shaman's crypt in CDM.  A cougar denned in here for several seasons years ago and made it even more famous.  Needed to drag the 8X10 in here.  

Over Spider Rock but under the overlook in some hidden caves.  I found this area when I was a child.  There's a 5X7 negative of it from a previous life.

Incredible cottonwoods up and down both canyons.

Must be at least 200 years old.  The tree.  Not Katie.

Group of Navajo kids walking by down the CDM side.

Painting commemorating a Spanish expedition in 1805.







4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I made it to Chaco this year. The place blew my head off. Next is Canyon de Chelly.

Excellent photos. Thanks.

Dave
Baltimore, Md.

Robert Langham said...

If you go to Canyon de Chelly, get a step-on guide if you have a 4-wheel drive or a private jeep tour. They are worth the money.

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