I’ve been camping in the canyons of Arizona and Utah. Most of the time we were out of internet and cell phone range. It’s a wonderful way to unplug. Since I owe you a post, perhaps you’ll indulge me and look at few of my vacation pictures.
Canyon de Chelly is in America’s National Monument system, located entirely on Navajo land. It may not be as big as the Grand Canyon, but it is grand nonetheless. Excellent roads take you around the north and south rims to amazing overlooks. In most places you must hire a Navajo guide to hike down into the canyon, but one exception is the White House trail. This fantastic path clings to the side of the sheer canyon wall, ending at some well preserved ruins from an ancient culture. The hike was popular with school groups the day we were there.
I was honored to watch a group of kids sworn in as Junior Rangers at Natural Bridges. We hiked down into the canyon there on a long trek between the largest bridge formations.
In the nineteenth century, when the American government carved up the conquered western lands, after everyone had their first choice, the remainders were placed under the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). These lands are often overgrazed and under-regulated. They seldom offer anything special in the way of views, but are wonderful for those of us, like me, who want to travel cheaply. You can camp for free on BLM land anywhere you want. There will be no rangers to answer questions, and roads may be impassible in rain or snow, which can be a challenge since you’re usually out of cell phone range. But in the Valley of the Gods the BLM has a gem of fantastically carved rocks and mesas. The main gravel road is in good shape, though side roads are dirt tracks that can be dicey. But I’ve never had a better campsite.
A landscape needs two attributes to be named after God or the Devil. First, it must inspire awe. The stare-in-wonder sort of awe. But that’s not enough. It must also be indifferent, even hostile, to humans. The combination leaves me feeling small and quiet. It would be presumptuous to try to fill such a space with myself. Instead I ache with the grandeur of our world.