“Some Words Are Wind, Sir
Some Are Treason.”
George R. R. Martin- A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms
Been wanting to get up to Walnut Canyon for awhile. Monsoon arrived with enough rain that the fire restrictions on the Parks, Forests, and Walnut Canyon were lifted and……We were out the door, with a quick stop for socks and bootlaces…. then the drive upward, from Sedona to the top of Oak Creek Canyon. On the edge, now, of the Colorado Plateau. By the time we reach Flagstaff we are six thousand nine hundred and ten feet’s worth of higher than sea level. The air is cool, clear, and crisp. Scented with freshly rain bathed Ponderosa Pine, Firs, Cypress, and Juniper Trees. Worth coming up here just to breathe the air.
Walnut Canyon National Monument is Nine miles east of Flagstaff Arizona, on Route 40, heading towards Albuquerque New Mexico in the United States. Walnut Canyon National Monument offers visitors real insight at the value and importance of citizen participation and a United American Voice in protecting our National Monuments. There is a visitor’s center, gift shop, two trails to view the ruins, and to get close up and personal with the Canyon.
In the 1800’s it was quite a legal and popular activity to loot the land and stuff of the people who came before them. Walnut Canyon was rich in the stuff of the daily routines of former cultures, and many a individual and group, carted them off to have impressive conversation pieces in their homes, or to sell, trade, barter, to stash away art on speculation of increasing value, or to display in collections. Much damage and destruction resulted in addition to the loss of the treasure.
Walnut Canyon is a seductress with it’s depth, textures, the way the light plays and teases, the silence, and the slowly revealed backstory of people, geology, ecosystems. The treasure. The local people loved the Canyon; were outraged by the exploitation.
They appealed to the United States Government for assistance in preserving Walnut Canyon for all to enjoy, and on November 30, 1915 United States President Woodrow Wilson declared Walnut Canyon a National Monument. To be preserved, maintained, and available to the public worldwide to love, appreciate, and enjoy. In 2016 one hundred and fifty two thousand global visitors came to Walnut Canyon.
Walnut Canyon shelters and protects dwellings over eight hundred years old. Tucked along the cliffs, using the overhangs and recesses as waterproof walls and ceilings. Only a few are pictured here, there are many to view and a very real sense of how large and interconnected a community the people who lived here were with one another.
Artifacts from the daily lives of the Archaic people who traveled through the southwest seasonally Thousands of years ago have been located here in Walnut Canyon.
Sinaqua (Spanish for ‘people without water’) arrived to the Flagstaff area approximately One Thousand Four Hundred years ago. They were primarily dry farmers, attracted to this area by the fertile soil, plants, and wildlife. The cliffs were a safe place to live, with the women doing the majority of the construction of the dwellings. The Sinaqua left the area, leaving behind many of their homes, artwork, tools, possessions, and household items behind.
The dwellings line both sides of Walnut Canyon, about one hundred and eighty five foot down from the top. It allows the mind to open even more to idea of a community of people, and to experience exquisite nature quiet of the breeze in the trees, the call of birds, and an occasional falling rock.
There are engaging very well organized and executed series of displays along the trail. Worth reading and considering. They fill in the gaps of detail for the imagination to create a rich and full vivid imagery of what a day looked like from where I am now stand now, on the cliffs edge. The displays don’t intrude.
There are big views, the kind that stop me mid-step and call my attention in silent reverence to just how big and grand it all is. Striations on the gray rock above showing changes in the direction of the wind for the past millions years. Simply magic.
And then there is the sound of a deep throated thunder growl rolling down in the Canyon and coming on fast and close, rushing on past calling out the news of coming weather.
We heed the warning, climb the two hundred forty steep vertical steps to the Rim of the Canyon, and soon we are on way to Flagstaff for lunch, just as the storm arrives quite dramatically with big sky lightning, thunder, and solid serious rain.
There are currently 129 designated National Monuments in the United States. There is change afoot, seeking to undo a commitment made One Hundred and Twelve Years ago to protect rare wildlife habitat, Native American Archaeological ruin, unique environments worthy of preservation and/or study. Historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest coast to coast are at risk.
These are the United States of America’s best loved and valuable places that have been enjoyed and shared for many generations with the commitment to keep them safe for generations going forward.
Reflecting a change of policy and purpose, the U.S. Department of the Interior has targeted 27 National Monuments for ‘review’, change in designation and use. These proposals will shrink the boundaries, reduce the protections, and open up permitting for formerly prohibited activities. Over 100,000 acres of well loved, protected, and valued National Monuments at risk.
I believe that, like the public who spoke up to protect Walnut Canyon so many years ago, that the people continue to value and want protections of their National Monuments. May our voices be heard.
A safe, engaged, and prosperous August to each and everyone of you.