Published: October 12th 2006October 2nd 2006
As we leave Page, AZ, the photo workshop stops at one more slot canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is the slot canyon most tourists visit. If you’ve ever seen a picture of gold, orange and red canyon walls with a shaft of light shining down the center, you’ve seen Upper Antelope Canyon.
We pay a $15.00 fee plus $6.00 hiking fee and wait for the truck that will drive us approximately 1 and ½ miles to the canyon’s entrance. Riding on bench seats on the open back of a truck, exposes us to sun and dust. I have to hold my hat to keep the wind from blowing it away.
We are the first visitors to the canyon this morning. The tour allows for one hour of exploration and the Navajo guide lets the photography group go first. She escorts the remaining tourists through the canyon, giving history about the area while pointing with her laser at interesting rock formations.
We walk straight in, no stairs or narrow passageways this time. As we turn the first corner, our voices lower. The beauty of this canyon requires reverence.
The floor is thick with the sand of pulverized rocks that
have been ground to a fine consistency by years of storms. When the wind blows, dust drifts down through the narrow openings, making it difficult to look up without getting dust in our eyes.
Our group rushes ahead in an attempt to take pictures before the crowd arrives. Unfortunately, the light is not as good today, so the photographers have to work harder for that perfect shot.
Since I am not one of Jim’s students, I walk to the end, checking out the light, taking pictures on the way back to the entrance. As I catch up with Jim, a Navajo guide passes us giving her narration to mainly European tourists.
“See that rock to your left,” she tells them, “that’s an eagle. And, see the one to your right, that is Abe Lincoln.”
Jim and I smile. It doesn’t look like Abe; it’s definitely a Navajo princess.
On the way to Monument Valley, we travel nine miles up a mountain plateau for a side trip to the Navajo National Monument. At the visitor’s center, we take a short hike on the Sandal trail that leads to an overlook. Across the canyon, Betakin, a village
of 900-year-old cliff dwellings, sits in a recessed area of arched stone in the canyon’s wall.
The photographers take their pictures. But, my camera’s zoom isn’t strong enough to do the site justice. So, I walk back to the visitor’s center to see the displays of ancient pottery and other artifacts.
Our next stop is Kayenta where we check into our motel before driving to Monument Valley for a sunset photography session. Located on Navajo tribal lands, the monument offers dramatic views of red buttes combined with the hustle/bustle of a tourist destination.
There is an entrance fee of $5.00 per person, which allows us to drive our cars into the valley. Near the parking lot, we walk to the edge of a dirt cliff to take pictures that seem eerily familiar. This is the landscape of Western movies and TV shows.
The 23-mile road is rough with washboard areas. Many tourists opt for tours in open-air trucks or the good old “shake and bakes.”
As we drive into the valley, it’s hard not to want to stop at every pull-off. At this rate, we won’t finish the drive in daylight.
Near the rock
formation called “The Sisters,” the photographers snap pictures of a vertical red butte with the moon riding high in the dark blue of a late afternoon sky. As you can see from the photo, it makes a striking sight.
Driving farther into the valley, we leave the tourist hustle and bustle behind. Unfortunately, storm clouds approach, spoiling our shots of a sunset in Monument Valley.
Before driving back to Kayenta, we stop at Goulding’s Lodge for a group dinner. Tomorrow our workshop ends.
To read more about our photo workshop experience with Jim Altengarten, vist this page
at my blog about baby boomer travel, My Itchy Travel Feet
There are more photos below