Project Tag: 2019

USA Phototour 2019 (VIII): Canyon de Chelly – Monument…

In the morning we take a drive with a Navajo guide into Canyon de Chelly and then move on to Monument Valley.

Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii – “valley of the rocks”, known by most as Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest rising over 300 m above the valley floor, at the Arizona–Utah border. The valley lies within the territory of the Navajo Nation Reservation. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, “its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.” The valley floor is largely siltstone of the Cutler Group, or sand derived from it, deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley’s vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide. The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is the Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation capped by Shinarump Conglomerate.

USA Photoexpedition 2019 (VII) – Chaco Canyon, Salmon Ruins…

Remote desert still makes Chaco Culture National Historical Park one of least visited places in USA. Containing the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico, the park preserves one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas in USA. Between AD 900 and 1150, Chaco Canyon became a major center of culture for the Ancestral Puebloans. Chacoans quarried sandstone blocks and hauled timber from great distances, assembling fifteen major complexes including Pueblo Bonito, that remained the largest building ever built in North America until the 19th century. Many Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles. Most accepted theory of why these sites have led to the emigration of Chacoans and the eventual abandonment of the canyon, was climate change beginning with a fifty-year drought commencing in 1130. Comprising a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the arid and sparsely populated Four Corners region, the Chacoan cultural sites are fragile. The sites are considered sacred ancestral homelands by people of 12 Pueblo tribes including Hopi, who maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to the land.

Salmon Ruins is an ancient Chacoan and Pueblo site located 72 km north of Pueblo Bonito of Chaco Canyon, on the north bank of the San Juan River, just to the west of the modern town of Bloomfield. Salmon was constructed by migrants from Chaco Canyon around 1090 CE, with aaproximatel 300rooms spread across three stories, an elevated tower kiva in its central portion, and a great kiva in plaza. Subsequent use by local Middle San Juan people (beginning in the 1120s) resulted in extensive modifications to the original building, with the reuse of hundreds of rooms, division of many of the original large, Chacoan rooms into smaller rooms, and emplacement of more than 20 small kivas into pueblo rooms and plaza areas. The site was occupied by ancient Ancestral Puebloans until the 1280s, when much of the site was destroyed by fire and abandoned.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument preserves one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, protecting not only ruins of the indigenous tribes that lived in the area, from the Ancestral Puebloans (formerly known as Anasazi) to the Navajo, but maybe more importantly the heart of Navajo Nation spritual worl. The monument covers 339.3 km2 and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. These canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska Mountains just to the east of the monument. Canyon de Chelly served as a home for Navajo people before it was invaded by forces led by Col. Kit Carson in 1863. The destruction of the Navajo camps, crops and supplies came at a crucial time for the Navajo. Cold, hungry and tired, many realized they would not be killed or captured by the soldiers if they came in peacefully. Delgado tried to convince others to surrender by reminding them of food, blankets and protection at the army forts. Manuelito was one of a few who never surrendered and fled into Hopi lands. By the summer of 1864 Carson had accepted the largest Native American surrender in history – nearly 8,000 people had surrendered and were soon forced to march to the Bosque Redondo reservation (or death camp as it was inttended to destroy the people). The deadly journey became known as the Long Walk of the Navajo. In 1868, after four years of exile, the Navajo were allowed to return to their homeland. Canyon de Chelly is entirely owned by the Navajo Tribal Trust of the Navajo Nation. It is the only National Park Service unit that is owned and cooperatively managed in this manner. About 40 Navajo families live in the park cultivating traditional life. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide with the exception being the White House Ruin Trail. The park’s distinctive geologic feature, Spider Rock, is a sandstone spire that rises 229 m from the canyon floor at the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon. Spider Rock can be seen from South Rim Drive. According to traditional Navajo beliefs, the taller of the two spires is the home of Spider Grandmother. In the Diné Bahaneʼ creation narrative of the Navajo and other legends she is the one who, creates people, introduces the spindle and the loom, aids and protects people against monsters. She is also the one who creates stars on the night sky.

Photo Workshop USA 2019 (VI) – Grand Canyon, Hopi…

Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, protects a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. In February of this year it celebrated 100th anniversary. The Grand Canyon, including its extensive system of tributary canyons, is valued for its combination of size, depth, and exposed layers of colorful rocks dating back to Precambrian times. The canyon itself was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the Colorado River system to develop along its present path. The primary public areas of the park are the South and North Rims, and adjacent areas of the canyon itself. The rest of the park is extremely rugged and remote, although many places are accessible by pack trail and backcountry roads. About 90% of the visitors come to the South Rim (even if I personally think North Rim is more amazing).

Driving across Navajo Nation we cross into tiny (in comaprison) Hopi is a Native American reservation for the Hopi and Arizona Tewa people, surrounded entirely by the Navajo Nation.. The site in north-eastern Arizona has a land area of 6,557 sq km and a population of approx 7000. Until recently, the two nations shared the Navajo–Hopi Joint Use Area, though the partition of this area, commonly known as Black Mesa, by Acts of Congress in 1974 and 1996, has resulted in continuing controversy, as since the 1960s it has been strip mined for coal by the Peabody Western Coal Company, an act that is seen as violation of Mother Earth to native people. The system of villages unites three mesas in the pueblo style traditionally used by the Hopi. Walpi is the oldest village on First Mesa, having been established in 1690 after the villages at the foot of mesa Koechaptevela were abandoned for fear of Spanish reprisal after the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The Tewa people live on First Mesa. Hopi also occupy the Second Mesa and Third Mesa. The Hopi Tribal Council is the local governing body consisting of elected officials from the various reservation villages. Its powers were given to it under the Hopi Tribal Constitution. We stop at Oraibi – a village belonging to the Hopi tribe that is found on the Third Mesa near the village of Kykotsmovi. Oraibi is cosidered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America, having been established before the year 1100 CE. According to archeological speculation, the Hopi were forced to abandon some of their smaller villages in the area due to a series of severe droughts during the late 13th century. As a result, the Hopi were concentrated in a few population centers around the area. Oraibi is among the surviving settlements whose population grew making the place popular. Today only few native people inhabit small houses, but it is here where I buy my Katchina. Next we stop at Walpi, but it’s a day of ceremonies and no outsiders are allowed into the fortified clifftop village (on other occasions it can be visited, but only with a guide).

Last (but not least) we reach Petrified Forest National Park, which has been named for its large deposits of petrified wood. PPark covers about 600 sq km, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic, about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossilized logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upwards by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion. All of the park’s rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water. In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park’s fossils since the early 20th century.

USA Photo Workshop 2019 (IV) Little Finland

Little Finland (also known as Hobgoblin’s Playground) is a scenic red rock area, located in a remote section of Clark County, Nevada within Gold Butte National Monument, known for its red rock scenery and strangely-shaped, delicate rock formations. The rock formations are composed of red Aztec Sandstone, fossil sand dunes. Many of the features are small erosional fins, hence the name and are very fragile. Thankfully access is quite hard so at least for now it is what protects this amazing little wonderland.

Photography Workshop USA 2019 (iv) – Death Valley National…

Death Valley National Park straddles the California—Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. The park boundaries include Death Valley, the northern section of Panamint Valley, the southern section of Eureka Valley, and most of Saline Valley. The valley is actually a graben with the oldest rocks being extensively metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, warm, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. The subduction uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes. Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, such as Lake Manly. The park occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts, protecting the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and its diverse environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, and the hottest, driest and lowest of all the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 86 m below sea level. Approximately 91% of the park is a designated wilderness area. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor from much wetter times. UNESCO included Death Valley as the principal feature of its Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve in 1984. Many Native American groups inhabited the area from as early as 7000 BC, most recently the Timbisha around 1000 AD who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains. A group of European-Americans, trapped in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California, gave the valley its name, even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax.


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