No one knows if they traveled for a day, a week, months or generations. No one knows if they were coming here to this canyon, this sand and red rock desert or if they recorded a journey, a migration to a distant place. No one knows how many of them moved across this land with their possessions, with their culture and myths, with the knowledge that allowed them more than just survival. The knowledge that empowered them to build palaces of rock and adobe with their whitewashed plaster interior walls, still standing after hundreds of years. Their history carved in stone long before there was a Utah .
There are theories of course, some believe the people depicted are clans coming to a great kiva from different directions for a ritual or event. Or that the panel doesn’t represent an actual event but instead depicts cultural concepts. There is a belief that the creators of these pictographs were early pueblo people, perhaps Basket Maker III, dating back about 1,300 years ago.
We arrived in spring to explore and to find a story that was written on sandstone. On a previous trip we had gotten close to the Procession Panel site, looking for but missing, as it turns out, by a few yards, 50 maybe 100. Then the wind was a living thing, trying to blast us from the ridge, keeping us hunkered, sometimes on hands and knees. You have to want something with a passion that will stop at nothing, the will to power through no matter the price. Then the wind was stronger, a protective fierceness for the ancient ones. But this trip the wind was somewhere else and we found the mystery on the cliff face.
It is not a difficult hike, maybe 1&1/2 miles one way, a climb of perhaps 500 to 600 feet across slickrock and washes. Typical Comb Ridge terrain.
The Colorado Plateau is a pretty dry place. A desert to most. Maybe 8″ of precip in many areas. The water, when it comes, moves the meager mineral soils in surprising ways. Gravity, wind and capillary action can make a plain rock wall into a canvas of beauty that would be at home in a fine art gallery. (more…)
It would seem to be a cliché to be writing about the past year and yet, by this time of the year, we tend to do just that. I like to think that past can be prologue, rather than wishing more had been checked off the to-do list or celebrating those things that were checked off. Nothing wrong with that but since we photograph and travel, looking into the future a bit is more satisfying. More of the same could be seen as a good thing, making images of the places and inhabitants of those places that we find interesting if not down right mind-blowing.
Nature photography and using digital cameras gives us the opportunity for endless learning and that, I think, is key to not letting the political class drive us totally crazy. “Walk in beauty” isn’t just an adage, it’s a directive that we can use to find that sometimes elusive key to happiness.
Contentment may lay in the past but life itself is ahead. So….. here are a few images from 2012 and a sincere wish that this coming year is very good to you.