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7. Beautiful Canyon

 "Do you want to see Beautiful Canyon?" It used to be called Black Canyon because it was a place of mystery and death. The Anasazi ruins were there and if you followed this canyon for miles and miles you would end up in Canyon de Chelly (pronounced d-shay). There were about 8 of us who said yes and climbed aboard the old pickup.

We drove for a good half hour over rough terrain, across dry creek beds and wound our way into the canyon wash. There are washes everywhere across the desert sand. Washes are like gullies or small canyons where the flood water flows when the mountain rains come. This one gradually became wider and the walls of the canyon began to rise up higher and higher.
Finally we came to a broken down wire gate that closed off the canyon. The gate was pulled open and everyone climbed out of the truck and started hiking into the hot sun. Soon we saw several appaloosas grazing on a ridge. That is what the fence was for.

The canyon walls rose higher and higher and there was now some shade for relief from the August heat. Huge overhangs created natural caves and in some places we saw markings that looked like abstract art. It was art created by the Anasazi centuries ago.
White House Ruins from Canyon De Chelly

 Looking up we saw black sediment that created dramatic streaks of color as it ran down from the top of the canyon wall. The ruins were built into the walls and you could climb up and explore the spaces. There were small rooms made of ancient adobe that connected along a narrow ledge. Pieces of pottery shards were scattered amidst the rocks and sand at the base of the vertical wall. I could imagine children playing in the ruins which were used as shelters for the Navajo's sheep. There was no certain explanation for the Anasazi: Where did they come from? How long had they lived there? Where did they disappear to? You can read about them and get some answers: ANASAZI

I handled the shards, examining them and wondering who made each one and what it looked like before it was shattered. They were beautiful. Each piece was textured with a design or painted with a diagram. The amazing thing was that these small pieces of history still existed. The Anasazi have been gone for hundreds of years but remnants of their art was everywhere.

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