May 14. 2006
Today we started the morning with breakfast an our own and than started our drive the the South part of Canyonlands.
Typical Cryptogamic soils
After our hikes at Canyonlands we headed toward Monument Valley, "the highlight of our trip".
It was very interesting driving in the desert. Sometimes you can drive 50 miles without seeing any life. When there is a town, there might be two gas station, and one fast food place. We stopped at Mexican hat just to take pictures, because we had to meet our tour guide Tom Phillips at 5 p.m. He was there waiting for us at the visitor center.
Tom Phillips the best tour guide ever
Tom Phillips is a native navajo indian, and he and his family was our host for the next 24 hours. He provided food for us, camping gears hikes, stories. He did a great job making us feel welcomed and open the windows of their world for us to learn. This was the best part of our trip, and I think we all will remember this night as long as we live.
"Anasazi Indians lived throughout this area and their petroglyphs can be found everywhere carved into desert varnish. Today, Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Indian Reservation and is a Tribal Park. Navajo Hogans sit in the shadows of the buttes and native people regard Monument Valley as a sacred place.
"The Holy People created this world for us from which we are never to stray and which we must always protect. The Holy People also live in this world, in sacred places, on the mountaintops, in the canyons, and the valleys. They have power over our daily lives by requiring us to walk and stay on the path of Hozhˇˇ (harmony). Each day our morning prayers are said toward the east before the sun rises. We express gratitude for our good life, for our livestock, for our land, and the wonders we live among. "
May it be beautiful
"Monument Valley has been eroding for the last 50 million years. Once this area was a flat plateau of sandstone layered with shale. As the Colorado Plateau rose, vertical faults were formed and the plateaus slided upwards from each other. The faulting exposed the lower levels of shale to erosion. As the shale was eroded, the overlying sandstone was undermined. As blocks of rocks fall away from the cliffs, the plateau is dissected into mesas, buttes, and pinnacles. Mesas are large table like structures. Mesas are weathered to smaller buttes, Finally, buttes are reduced to pinnacles or pillars." http://www.cas.usf.edu/geology/Erosion%20Field%20trip/Monument_valley.html
The base of the rock formations in Monument Valley consists of the soft Permian Organ Rock Shale with thin ledges of sandstone. The sheer vertical rock faces are the DeChelley Sandstone, 1000 feet thick. The Triassic DeChelley Sandstone has cross bedding from eolian deposition. The cap rock is the hard Shinarump Shale protecting the sandstone below. There are modern sand dunes in the park, formed of sand eroded from the DeChelley Formation.
Tom took us on a regular Monument Valley Tour, and than he lead us to our camp site. The whole group have decided not to put up tents, we were just going to sleep under the sky. While we were setting up for the night Tom and his family were cooking dinner.
After dinner Tom made fire, and we were all sitting there and listened to his stories about the Navajo people and their religion, life.
"We also honor the Creator of the Universe that lies between the Four Sacred Mountains. For he placed here for us all things we need to live and be happy. He gave us Father Sun who gives light and energy to Mother Earth. Mother Earth nurtures us and gives us all things including the mountains, trees, our animals, grass, food, and the herbs to heal us of our infirmities. We are the children. All things are alive to us. The Holy Ones taught us how to take care of Mother Earth. We honor them in our delight to take care of her. Many peoples of Mother Earth are now hurting her. A future day will come when the peoples of the Earth will come to us, the Navajo, to teach them how to care for Mother Earth. When that day comes, we will be ready. Our language was given to us by the Holy Ones and is very sacred to us. When they gave us their language they told us to take care of it and it would do many things for us. All answers are in the language. It will take care of us individually, as a family and as a people. Our language is something that is very special, and very powerful. It is a weapon against poverty, illness and sickness. Our language is so powerful that the Code Talkers won for the United States the Second World War in the Pacific. Words are very powerful. They can heal or hurt a home and family. The Holy Ones told us we must use great care in using the language they gave us. This is so important because the words we use can also hurt Mother Earth and the things that are upon it. Our culture is kept alive through ceremony. We have many ceremonies for different things. Our ceremonies were given to us by the Holy ones. Through our ceremonies we teach the important lessons we must know to stay alive as a people. The ceremony teaches us about our history and our responsibilities as a human being inside the universe and our place in it. As human beings we are very powerful. We can hurt ourselves in this world, and we can also help with this world. It also teaches us about patience. Through ceremony our language is kept alive. During these counsels everyone must agree on what is best, or they will come together again until they can. Our Navajo music is a very important part of the ceremony and also has great power." http://waltonfeed.com/peoples/navajo/culture.html
When it was completely dark, Tom took us to a beautiful place, and sang for us. The place was a round wind carved rock area with an "eye" exactly above it. He made us lay down on the rocks, so we could only see the sky through the eye. He told us to always remember these peaceful moments during our busy lives. At the end he sang their native songs for us. I think this was an incredible night for all of us.