“Some Words Are Wind, Sir. Some Are Treason.” -George R. R. Martin

“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.

Music: Boz Scaggs

Comments Closed

 

Do You Suppose She’s A Wildflower?

“Do you suppose She’s a wildflower?”

         ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland          

Earth Day:  Marches for Science is very popular this year, as is Climate Literacy .

Ole Mum could use a good attorney right about now.  The Environmental Defense Fund and  Earth Justice come to mind.

Mother Jones magazine provides an informative checklist to help sort through the maze of which organizations sound too good to be true and are, and what groups are doing good solid work and need support. I am beginning to frequent the The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School   to keep up with the current US Governments hi-jinks with our Mom, and find it easy to navigate and factual, which is very reassuring.

This week’s WordPress Photo theme is Earth, and nothing says earth to me more than a  hardy, resilient desert wildflower.

Lyrid Meteor shower celebrates Earth Day, with North America the best place to view.

My hope is everyone received their invitation, and enjoys  their gift of some  time outside with Mother Earth today.  Peace and Blessings.

Oak Creek Canyon: The Equivalent of Churchgoing

My father considered a walk among the mountains 

as the equivalent of churchgoing.

Aldoux Huxley

 

Woke up with a need for some churchgoing. Headed out to Oak Creek Canyon,  a long time sacrosanct place for me,   a place which had experienced some serious trouble while I was living in the South. The Canyon stretches between Flagstaff and Sedona for about twelve miles of a most scenic of routes.  Oak Creek runs along the bottom, an all seasons flowing  stream and tributary of the Verde River.

 

Hundreds of thousands of global  visitors come to Oak Creek Canyon, for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, photography, or their own personal form and need of spiritual renewal. Others pass through traveling to Sedona from the Grand Canyon, or to the Grand Canyon from Sedona, white knuckle navigating the high canyon switchbacks, seeking a pullout to take their perfect vacation photos.

 

Now I knew it was a Saturday in summer and water is always  an attraction in the desert. And  I knew that Sedona was hosting it’s annual Cowboys Weekend.  I had no thoughts or expectations of anything but sharing Oak Creek Canyon with many others. Even as layperson,  I  knew many people were going to be showing up to get near the renewing water. The analogy of a very well attended service sits well.

 

The Canyon welcomed me with easy familiarity and recognition, the prodigal   daughter returned.

 

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” Giant’s Mitten or Teapot Rock”
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“Camel Rock”
About 9:30 AM catching site of Midgley Bridge. Cars were already overflowing the parking area,  and even along the narrow shoulder of the roadway.

 

Now I admit to knowing where there used to be some very  carefully camouflaged  local knowledge only  paths to plunge into the baptism of ice cold deep water pools that Big Fish trout shared without fuss or flight. This was before GPS, cell phones, Sharing, and Links, and when these places were under a kind of unspoken local blessing and protection.
By the time we had passed Grasshopper Point and arrived at Slide Rock State Park, named one of America’s top ten state Parks, we realized with a gut punch the our beloved Canyon was in deep trouble again this year, only it is not fire scorching it to ruin.

 

While many  visitors  paid the fees that help maintain the parks, campgrounds,  and picnic ares, hundreds of vehicles lined both sides of the narrow road up the Canyon, filled the pullouts double and triple parking.
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Image result for no parking sign
Over and over, and then over and over once again groups of thirty or more people were  carting coolers, cases, umbrella’s tarps, boxes, fishing gear, babies, suitcases, diaper bags, plastic containers, bar b q’s, strollers, cell phones, inner tubes,  chairs, tables, pull behind wagons,  and plastic bags of ice down the narrow road to the now many public citizen created trails and paths along the creek. It was for me, an environmental Dark Night of The Soul.

 

 Maybe you weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but like every American, you carry a deed to 635 million acres of public lands. That’s right. Even if you don’t own a house or the latest computer on the market, you own Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and many other natural treasures.

John Garamen

I embrace John Garamendi’s words and believe them to be true. How do they reconcile with the numbers of people coming into Oak Creek Canyon on this Saturday morning in July? The ‘public lands’ they are enjoying do not have parking, trash cans, fire pits, potable water, and most important of all,   they do not have bathrooms.

 

The designated recreational areas in Oak Creek Canyon, and they are numerous, are designed around the carrying capacity of Oak Creek Canyon’s ecosystem. The carrying capacity being the number of people living and recreating, in addition to all the other plants, animals, birds, insects, amphibians, all living things that can be supported in an ecosystem without causing  degradation.
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Standing up at Oak Creek Vista  at the top of Oak Creek Canyon, you could not see one hint  of what was going on below.  It looked as pristine as the brochures and tourism promotions that abound.

 

How can the Canyon heal from the Slide Rock Fire with so many people flooding in and no longer using the designated recreational areas?  How can this beautiful unique ecosystem survive with even a semblance of health and vitality?
I think first of all, people need to know what is actually happening to  Oak Creek Canyon. The shock, futility and sadness that I felt  at seeing such disrespect for this hallowed area, gave way to my belief that giving up and giving in to it’s demise is not an option. With proper management and respect and a zero tolerance for violating the creek while continuing to provide the recreational areas so many use, Oak Creek Canyon will not only survive but thrive and be available to the next generations.

 

I encourage you to watch this slice of what the Mornings After look like up in Oak Creek Canyon. What 3,736 pounds of trash, 2,041 pounds of recycles, 260 pounds of feces, 69 diapers, The Oak Creek Watershed Council has made this excellent short film:
                                          Loved to Death

 

Then get involved. Whether you live in the Verde Valley area, or are one of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy or who have enjoyed in the past  the Oak Creek Canyon, let your voice be heard that Oak Creek Canyon should be saved.
Steps you can take:

 

Practice:  Leave No Trace
Join or support the Oak Creek Watershed Council,
Friends of The Forest or your organization of choice that is committed
to preserving and protecting the integrity of this or any watershed, and is at ground zero with boots on the ground doing the dirty work of cleaning up, restoration, public education, research, and water sampling.

 

and the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. Let them know that Oak Creek Canyon matters for recreational, spiritual, and economic and environmental reasons.

&nsbp;

 And if you are a praying person, now would be the time.
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It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
Neil Armstrong