Canyon De Chelly, Arizona - July 12, 2008

Canyon De Chelly, Arizona - July 12, 2008

HI EVERYONE,

IT WAS A DAYS JOURNEY TO CANYON DE CHELLY, ARIZONA FROM THE GILA WILDERNESS IN NEW MEXICO.

CANYON DE CHELLY IS PART OF THE NAVAJO INDIAN RESERVATION, AND THE LAND HERE IS HIGH DESERT WITH MUCH WARMER TEMPERATURES.

WE ARRIVED AT OUR CAMP LOCATED IN CHINLE, ARIZONA JUST OUTSIDE THE CANYON.  CORRALS AND WATER WERE PROVIDED FOR THE HORSES WITH PARKING FOR OUR TRAILERS.

THE NAVAJO INDIANS WERE FRIENDLY AND MADE US FEEL WELCOMED. YOU MUST HAVE NAVAJO GUIDES TO TAKE YOU INTO THE CANYON, AND THEY WERE GREAT AT SHOWING AND TELLING THE HISTORY OF THEIR LAND.

WE STARTED RIDING EARLY IN THE MORNING AS THE NOON DAY SUN WAS HOT AND HARSH. PLENTY OF SUNSCREEN AND A HAT WAS THE RULE OF THE DAY.

AS WE STARTED DOWN THE CANYON, WE SAW A SMALLER VERSION OF THE GRAND CANYON; BUT STILL BREATHTAKING IN ITS BEAUTY. A SMALL RIVER RAN DOWN THE MIDDLE WITH ITS HEADWATERS SEEPING OUT OF THE HIGH WALLS FED BY THE MELTING OF WINTER SNOWS.

IN EARLY SPRING, THE RIVER IS WIDER AND DEEPER. AS WE RODE DOWN THE SANDY TRAIL, COTTONWOOD TREES AND WILLOWS GREW ALONG THE RIVER OFFERING US SHADE.  OUR GUIDE WARNED US OF QUICKSAND IN PLACES ALONG THE TRAIL, SO WE FOLLOWED HIM CLOSELY.

FALCONS AND EAGLES INHABITED THE CANYON, SOARING WITH THE WIND CURRENTS HIGH ABOVE LOOKING FOR THEIR PREY. JACKRABBITS OR A SNAKE WOULD HAVE MADE A GOOD MEAL FOR THEM THAT DAY.

SOME NAVAJOS LIVED IN THE CANYON IN THE SUMMER, GARDENING AND FARMING, JUST AS THEIR ANCESTORS DID MANY YEARS AGO.  AS WE PASSED BY A MEADOW, HAY WAS BEING HARVESTED FOR THEIR STOCK. MANY LIVED HERE IN THEIR NATIVE HOUSES, VERY MODEST AND MUCH LIKE THE ONES THEIR FATHERS AND GRANDFATHERS BUILT.

THE NAVAJO INDIAN RESERVATION HAD A FREE RANGE POLICY, SO ALONG OUR RIDE WE SAW LOOSE CATTLE AND HORSES. NONE APPROACHED US, I GUESS WE WERE JUST MORE TOURIST PASSING THROUGH.

AS WE RODE THROUGH THE CANYON, OUR GUIDE POINTED OUT THE REMAINS OF CLIFF DWELLINGS HIGH ABOVE THE CANYON FLOOR INHABITED OVER A THOUSAND YEARS AGO BY ANCIENT PUEBLOANS,  FOREFATHERS OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE NOW. PAINTINGS ON THE WALLS TOLD STORIES ABOUT THEIR LIFE HERE. A HAND PRINT ON THE WALL SEEMED TO WAVE FROM A DISTANT PAST, AND YOU ALMOST WANTED TO WAVE BACK. SOME OF THE VILLAGES WOULD HAVE UP TO 400 HUNDRED PEOPLE LIVING IN THE DWELLINGS TUCKED AWAY ON THE SIDE OF THE CANYON WALLS.

WE STOPPED FOR LUNCH UNDER A ROCK CLIFF, NATURE’S “OUTDOOR CAFÉ”. WE TIED OUR HORSES TO THE TREES AND ALL ENJOYED A COOL BREEZE IN THE SHADE OF THE CLIFF. AFTER LUNCH WE HEADED BACK TO CAMP.

LATER ON THAT AFTERNOON, SOME OF US GIRLS WENT TO THIS LITTLE COFFEE SHOP RUN BY A NAVAJO GIRL JUST OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL PARK GATE AND ENJOYED A FROZEN LATTE.

DURING WORLD WAR ll, A GROUP OF NAVAJO INDIANS USED THEIR LANGUAGE TO TRANSMIT SECRET MESSAGES TO THE GENERALS IN THE FIELD. THE ENEMY COULD NOT BREAK THE CODE. THESE INDIANS WERE A GROUP CALLED CODE TALKERS AND WERE VERY VALUABLE TO OUR NATION. WE MET ONE OF THE LAST FIVE ALIVE TODAY THERE IN CHINLE, AZ. HE WAS 89 YEARS OLD.

WE ENJOYED OUR VISIT HERE WITH THE NAVAJO PEOPLE AND LEFT WITH A GLIMPSE OF THEIR HISTORY AND KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR LIFE TODAY.

 

SO LONG UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN AT THE SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST.

WE WISH YOU MANY HAPPY AND SAFE TRAILS.

BOBBIE AND LARRY GREENE

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