Canyon de Chelly, on the map, is shaped like a Y or a chromosome. A chromosome as the walls of the canyon carry the heritage of the people who made this place their home over millennia. A Y as in the letter ship, a foot and two arms.
6.2 miles from the canyon mouth, where the road ends at Chinle, above the branch, on the north cliff, is this photogenic ruin, called the Ledge Ruin. In my previous posting, this ruin forms the backdrop of Peter Tsosie’s portrait. Peter is the header image of this posting.
Difficult to believe, seeing it for the first time.
Difficult to see, a tiny nook in an enormous cliff, the structures formed from the same rock as though what remained after the cliff fell away.
Difficult to comprehend life there, what drove them to this effort? Fear, certainly, concern for their safety and security.
We know it by our name. Their name included the word “home.”
The Rincons are one of 42 Sky Mountain islands isolated from each other by the gradual warming and drying climate changes since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. While this marvelous environment of oak and pine forests only accessible with much effort on foot, it is literally visible from every point of the Tucson valley and million human inhabitants.
Rincon is Spanish for corner, the mountains are called that from their shape enclosing a space on the west, northwest until recently used for ranching and is now falling into use for tract housing. The mountains themselves are reserved as wilderness, parts in the Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest.
In the past 44 years I was lucky enough to visit the Rincon Wilderness interior three times, shouldering different style backpacks onto the mountain, walking different boots. The first, during college the 1970’s, a party of six left from the end of Speedway, up the Douglas Springs trail. The climb was an exercise in desert survival that several friendships did not survive, replace by new friends met on Mica Mountain. I have no photographs from that experience, only memories and the backpack.
Reconnecting with Arizona in 2004, thirty one years after that first experience, I took no chances. My first attempt on Rincon Peak was a success. Risk and effort were reduced, not eliminated by hiring a guide for the four day trip. We made it to Rincon Peak via the Turkey Creek Trail out of Happy Valley, climbing a mountain buttress, views ever widening and lengthening.
These are some photographs from that experience and a landscape photograph of the peak at sunset, taken the following year.
Sego Lilies bloom among a stricken oak and drying grasses on the Turkey Creek trail. This is an overview of the environment, it is the winter rains that trigger the bloom.
We paused while I unpacked my gear to capture Sego Lilies growing along the Turkey Creek Trail.
Deer Head Spring, at the top of Turkey Creek Trail was a moist spot with no accessible water when we reached it April 27, 2004. With the remains of a gallon of water each we needed to press ahead to Heartbreak Ridge and climb into Happy Valley Saddle were, thankfully, the creek was low and full of algae but usable. Here are my first views of Rincon Peak, looking across the aptly named Heartbreak Ridge and Happy Valley Saddle.
The view to south from Rincon Peak. The white rocks at lower right forms a Valley of the Moon wall. San Pedro River valley at the root, Mae West Peaks at left margin, Dragoon Mountains with Cochise Stronghold center. Taken around 12:30 on April 28, 2004 as a thunderstorm approached.
The Rincon Peak view looking south, southwest over the Valley of the Moon to the eastern Tucson Valley and the Sky Islands the Whetstone Mountains (Apache Peak), behind are the Santa Ritas. The works of man are overpowered by sky, rock, distance.
We made a hasty departure in front of the thunderstorm. It was a touch and go decision to attempt the peak that day, we made it with moments to spare.
April 29, 2004 the morning after reaching Rincon Peak I set up the tripod near our Happy Valley Saddle camp to capture Rincon Peak in early morning sunlight.
The day we descended to the X9 Ranch via the Rincon Creek trail. My guide’s grandfather had a homestead at the X9 and his access to the trailhead through private lands opened this route for us. This is a photograph of sunset on Rincon Peak from the X9 ranch. I am looking east from the Rincon (Spanish for corner) made by the massifs Rincon Peak, Mica Mountain and Tanque Verde ridge.
The evening of November 2, 2006 I climbed the Saguaro National Park, East, Tanque Verde trail for about 30 minutes to reach this view of Rincon Peak and waited until just before the sun set behind the Tucson Mountains for this shot. Then hiked back to the car in twilight. In my hurry, I tripped on a stepped turn and dove headfirst into a large prickly pear. It was a very painful experience and I regretted damaging the cactus and the loss of and good hiking shirt. There were large spines in my face and tiny, pesky spines covered my chest and back. The large spines are not barbed and come right out. I needed to visit a physician to remove them.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Here we are, on the road from Kenmare to Killarney, N71, part of the Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula. The view was celebrated by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting during an 1861 tour of Ireland
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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Throughout my life, beginning with trips between Long Island and Tucson, Arizona for college…throughout young and mature adulthood to return to the family home for celebrations…in my 40’s, 50’s and 60’s caring for aging parents and now, in retirement, researching genealogy I have travelled this route over the George Washington Bridge, over Manhattan, through the Bronx, then over the Throgs Neck Bridge to Queens County, Long Island and always as the driver. This is the first time being able to document the route with a quality camera. Driving here requires the total attention of the driver, the traffic, reading unfamiliar signs…..what a treat to sit and snap. Here goes.
On Interstate 80 then 95 moving through Bergen County and Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Over the George Washington Bridge, upper level.
Into the Bronx via the imfamous Cross Bronx Expressway…..trucks from across the continent funnel through here.
Glorious fall foliage on a perfect autumn morning.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills