Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chaco Canyon

The sun climbs over the canyon as a giver of light and shadow, beauty and life. The morning is alive with petals of color, brilliant and subtle and cool. It is good to feel alive with anticipation of the discoveries of the day’s hike.

Climbing Out of the Canyon to the Rim Above
Climbing Out of the Canyon to the Rim Above (Larger version)

On the Canyon Rim
On the Canyon Rim (Larger version)

What fortune permits a man to explore this world of solitude and breezes? The trail climbs the canyon cliffs that hide the mysteries above. How many generations walked this way and felt the sun’s warmth and marveled at the beauty?

The Chacoans knew the beauty of this canyon. They chose it for its clear skies and brilliant sun. They tracked the risings and settings, the areas of brilliance and shadow. They faced their buildings to watch the sun.


The sun grows stronger. It dries the land and soaks the body; erases the shadows and burns the eyes. It slowly blinds one to the hues and shapes and textures of the desert.

Chacoan Architecture
Chacoan Architecture (Larger version)

One of Hundreds of Ruins
One of Hundreds of Ruins (Larger version)

How did the Anasazi, the Ancient Ones, build in the sun? What strength did they possess to cut and transport logs, to quarry and shape stone, to build story upon story in the sun’s growing cruelty?


The sun is a cruel mother. She has no sympathy. She has taken all shade yet she continues to burn. The water is warm and offers no comfort. Drink follows drink but thirst continues. The delight of the trail is gone and has been replaced by a desire for shade and satisfying drink and sleep. What folly causes a man to challenge the day? All have hidden from the sun except lizards and foolish men.

Ruins Above the Canyon Rim
Ruins Above the Canyon Rim (Larger version)

Did the Chacoans feel her cruelty or where they immune? Did they enjoy her favor but not her wrath? Were they able to appease her as they built kiva and road, courtyard and moat? Ruins tell of their success but tell also of their failure.


The sun feels shame for the suffering she has caused and hides her face behind the western cliffs. The moon comes with pity and the stars with comfort. The air soothes and cools the body. The breeze and the songs of birds remove the memory of the heat of the day.

Looking Across the Canyon
Looking Across the Canyon (Larger version)

Julie on a 12 Miles Ride Around the Canyon
Julie on a 12 Miles Ride Around the Canyon (Larger version)

Surely the Chacoans planned and dreamed under these stars. They must have learned the rhythms of the day and the moods of the sun. They discovered the morning belongs to children, the evening to old men and the midday to the sun.


Blogger Buffalo said...

Incredible photos, wonderful commentary.

As we stood gazing at the dwellings on Mesa Verde I tried to imagine those that has built them. It seems impossible that they were able to overcome all the obstacles inherent to that time and place.

7/11/2007 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Sometimes it is like stepping back in time!

7/12/2007 03:55:00 PM  

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