There’s light on the inside…

Walk with us through Upper Antelope Canyon. Your equilibrium and balance will be affected as you intently gaze upward in subdued light. You will experience a bit of emotion and awe because you have never been in a place such as this –– ever before. Light. Shadow. Darkness. Texture. Sound. Smell. All sensory features in our existance we certainly take for granted. This experience should be a rebirth of what you know about respecting your surroundings. You have found yourself inside –– and witness to, the colors of earth.

While only a scant eighth of a mile in length, Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona is in certainly a major “Wonder of the World.” We hear canyon in the name and automatically assume this place has some real depth and breadth in it’s dimension like canyons do, right? In reality, both Upper and its sister, Lower Antelope Canyon are mere cracks or “slots” in two sandstone mesas that meander the land on a countless miles long, gentle slope towards Glen Canyon, formed by the Colorado River. These fissures, opened by earthquakes and geologic upheaval are no wider in most places than fifteen to twenty feet, and along the canyon floor in many places so narrow one must turn sideways to pass. Sunlight passes through the cracks in the top of the mesa, some hundred or more feet above and filters ever downward reflecting off the granules of sand in the stone surface creating a wondrous array of color across the spectrum. Sand lines the floor, ever mixed and upturned by hundreds of visitor footprints every day. Every day we say unless of course, the weather forecast puts rainfall anywhere above the watershed that includes this part of Arizona. Before good weather prediction methods were accepted (and relied on) by the Navajo to predict rainstorms, there were the occasional individual(s) inside the canyons, unsuspecting and ignorant, to be overcome by wild waters coursing through the canyon at break-neck speed. A quite awful death would always be the outcome. Rain does not soak into the ground in the desert southwest, it just flows downhill…

When a slot opens after those age old geologic events we mentioned earlier, subsequent flashflood rain waters immediately began to flow from the high side of the arroyos between the fingered mesa’s toward the lower side, directly through the fissure, spilling out on the down side of the mesa, marching ever forward and downhill until impeded by another mesa or finding the Colorado. Water will find the easiest and shortest way to go downward. Flashflood waters carry sand and rock which naturally grind and carve stone and thus the random channels and shapes began to form. God only knows how long it’s taken to make Antelope appear as it does today. It is ever evolving as the forces of nature which carved continue to fashion and reshape it’s undulating walls. Windblown sand is another contributor to the never ending erosion inside these slots and is forever a force of change.

Regarded a holy place by the Navajo, Antelope has rested on their land for timeless generations where it remained mostly a secret to outsiders until modern times. Long a haven for the photograher when hosted by Navajo guides, the canyon also has the attention of the tourist who in recent years, just wants another checkmark on the bucket list. Native Americans who call this part of Arizona home do a great job of controlling access to Antelope, their goal being to minimize unnatural erosion and change while still educating the public about their commitment to preservation of a wondreous place on their land passed forward by the “Ancients.”

There truly is wondrous light –– on the inside…

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