Stairstepping In Kodachrome Land, Part 3: A Zip Through The Cedars

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June 3, 2016, Chinle, AZ- After leaving Nevada behind, I decided that the drive through the expanse of heaven that is southern Utah would have to be somewhat less than just.  I have the Golden Circle on my radar screen for a full month of exploration- but not until next summer, at the very earliest, and maybe not until 2020.  The pines, cedars and unparalleled canyons of southern Utah are treasures to be taken one inch at a time.

One caveat I share with most other drivers is:  Don’t make a nuisance of yourself, by constantly and abruptly pulling to the side of the narrow road, to get that great photo.  So, the scenes presented herein are few in number- focusing on two places:  Navajo Lake/Duck Creek and Orderville Canyon.  These two very different environments give a snippet of the variety in a relatively small area of Kane County.

I spent a few minutes in the commercial hub of Cedar City, just refueling and resting my Nissan.  The traffic was already gearing up for a crowded weekend, hereabouts, so on up through Kolob Canyon it was.  Navajo Lake lies in the rim country, above Zion National Park.  There were about a dozen people at the overlook, so we took turns with photographs.

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Dike  across Navajo Lake, Dixie National Forest, Utah

The dike was built by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, during the New Deal, to maintain constant water flow.

Navajo Lake, and nearby Duck Creek, were created by lava flow, which altered the course of the Virgin River, which created Zion Canyon.  Below, are some scenes of the lava beds, around Duck Creek Visitor Center.

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Lava bed at Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Lava bed, Duck Creek Visitor Center, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

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Duck Creek, Dixie National Forest, Utah

Orderville is one of the small farming towns that are a delight to visit, in the midst of southern Utah’s canyon country.  It is also a jumping off point for those headed east, towards Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Park.  Orderville has a gorgeous canyon of its own, though, and can easily enchant the visitor for 2-3 days.

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

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Orderville Canyon, Utah

With the day growing short, I headed on east and south, through Page, AZ, on the southern shore of Lake Powell, across the Navajo Nation, to Kayenta and Chinle.  At Tsegi, just west of Kayenta, I cam across a couple whose vehicle and trailer had overturned.  The Indian Health Service worker who had stopped to help was having a hard time getting through to emergency services.  I was able to call and get help en route.  Good thing that neither person,nor their two dogs, were injured.  Past Kayenta, a brush fire had broken out, south of Chilchinbeto, where I once worked. Once again, 911 was dialed from my phone, and a fire truck was dispatched.

That was the end of the day’s excitement.  I enjoyed a relaxing meal at Junction Restaurant, in Chinle, before heading down to Native American Baha’i Institute, another 1 1/2 hours further southeast.  It is time to change gears, and focus on spirituality for a day or so.

Trailheads and Trails, Volume 1, Issue 22: Sunset Crater

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September 28, 2014-  Flagstaff has always been friendly to me.  So, on a Sunday afternoon, I drove up for a brief visit with some Hopis who were in town for a Native American Arts and Crafts Fair, which the Hopi Tribe was sponsoring.  Flag has worked at being more welcoming to Native Americans, over the past twenty years or so, and the mural seen across the street is one small example of the change in attitude.

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There had been a terrific downpour, from Casa Grande to Tuba City, the day before, and Flagstaff had seen its share of the threat of flood waters.  It looked, on that Sunday however, that all was well, in the end. The sandbags were still in place, in front of the municipal courthouse.

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After a latte at Macy’s, one of my favourites in Flagstaff, I headed out to Sunset Crater.  It’s near Wupatki, which I had visited a few weeks earlier.  Sunset is the remnant of a much larger volcano, which erupted full-blast in the 1060’s. The Lava Beds extend for ten miles or so.  Here is a Lava Flow trail, with a view of the San Francisco Peaks in the background.

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From the same trail, Strawberry Crater, five miles to the northeast, is visible.

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The scenery in volcanic parks tends to like like something straight out of JRR Tolkien’s Mordor.  It is an object lesson in the lingering power of volcanic activity.  In the long run, though, the soil is renewed.  That’s important to remember, when encountering scenes like this.  In fact, I learned that the Sinagua people chose Wupatki as a place to build angular pueblos, as a symbol of persistence, in the wake of the Sunset Crater eruptions.  The Hopi believe their Kana-a kachinas (spirits) are associated with the crater and its eruptions.  Navajos and Zuni also revere this peak, as well as all the mountains nearby. Settlers cherished the volcano as well, and actively thwarted a film company’s attempt to blow up the crater in 1929, during the making of “Avalanche”.  As a result, President Herbert Hoover set aside 3,000 acres for the present Sunset Crater National Monument.

The trails in Sunset Crater National Monument tend to be benign and flat. The exception is the cardiopulmonary fitness experience known as Lenox Crater Trail- 300 feet straight up.  The Ponderosa pine regrowth is about 30 years old.

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From the top of Lenox, Sunset Crater is visible, to the east.

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Much more in the way of igneous rock is visible, along the Long Trail, which is less than a mile in length, actually.

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This little crater comes with a “No playing inside” warning.  It is actually quite fragile.

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Some iron deposit is visible, in this broken-off piece of lava.

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Here is a long pit, on the west side of Long Trail.

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Lightning had hit the cracked rock below.

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From Cinder Hills overlook, at the eastern end of the Monument, copper and iron-inflected soil is visible, atop the cones for which the overlook is named.

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With its eponym on the way, I got one last shot of Sunset Crater.  The peak cannot be hiked, due to its sensitive condition.  This is true of a great many volcanoes, both active and dormant.  The danger to peak and climber alike is just too real.  DO HEED THE RANGERS’ INSTRUCTIONS!SAM_2893