Saturday, May 22, 2010

Canyon de Chelly - Spider Rock Camping Ground

Sunday May 23, Canyon de Chelly hike with Indian Guide Benjamin

We meet Howard Smith, the Navajo owner of the campground and he introduces us to his nephew Benjamin who takes us on a five hour hiking tour down to White House ruin, then up canyon to Sliding House Ruin via Benjamin's family's land on the canyon bottom. Heard many stories of growing up in the Canyon, and changes he's seen since the mid 50's. Saw many petroglyphs (carved) and pictographs (painted) rock art on the canyon walls, and pottery shards 1,000's of year old - still holding their glaze and color. The wind continues to howl, but in the canyon most of the day we are protected from it's abuse. We see Benjamin's family goat herd, his two horses, and the land his family has cultivated continuously for generations(except for the period of the long walk and internment at Fort Sumner). Following our hike, we sight see to Spider Rock, a 1,000 free standing pillar at a bifurcation of the canyon. This pillar plays strongly in the Navajo spider woman story how weaving was brought to the people. We retreat back to the camping ground to escape the wind and the blowing sand and spend our evening "indoors" in the camper napping, reading, and reviewing photos.

I strongly recommend this campsite and this guide (Benjamin) for hiking, horse riding, jeep tours, and multi-day camping trips into the canyon. Make arrangements through:

Spider Rock Camping Ground
PO Box 3797
Chinle, AZ 86503

(Slideshow embedded below. Click on the black frame to expose the slide show controls, then press the play button at the bottom of the frame...)

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