Since my visit to Chaco Canyon in 2000, I have been drawn to that place, and the mystery that it holds. Something about its remote, elegant, lonely beauty calls to me, but I cannot explain what or why. From almost the day I left in 2000, I had wondered about returning, and I decided that since I would like to be in the canyon at sunrise and sunset, I would need to camp. When I explained this to David Martin, he said, “Invite me!” I also thought it would be a far more compelling experience if I visited in November. For one thing, it seemed unlikely that the area would be crowded in November.
We borrowed a friend’s tent and camp stove, and set out very early in the morning of Sunday, November 4, 2001.
• Drive from Oklahoma to Chaco Canyon
We set up camp without problems. We were one of just four occupants of Chaco’s 49-site Gallo Campground.
It was a perfectly still, cold night. I tried a two-hour star trace photo. Coyotes woke us up at about 4 am.
• Pueblo Alto and Wijiji
Breakfast was couscous with trail mix. We made a long, productive, fun hike to Pueblo Alto with muted grey but beautiful light.
In the afternoon, we hiked the Wijiji trail and ruins, which were very beautiful and lonely.
Sunset shot at Fajada Butte.
• Breaking Camp and Aztec Ruins
It was a warmer night due to showers and cloud cover all night – clear by dawn.
We hiked some of the shorter Chaco trails. Beautiful light and sky, with moon in lots of my frames.
We broke camp around noon and headed for Aztec Ruins. Nice afternoon, but didn’t shoot a lot.
• Bisti Wilderness then Mesa Verde National Park
We were up very early in the morning in Farmington for the drive to Bisti Wilderness. It is one of the most amazing places I have ever photographed.
We had lunch back in Farmington, then drove to Mesa Verde National Park across the border in Colorado. It was very beautiful, particularly light and shadow in the burned areas from recent forest fires
• San Juan Mountains, Taos, and Sandia Peak, then the Long Drive Home
We drove the long way home, starting with a snowstorm in the San Juan Mountains where we saw the truck in front of us spin out and crash.
South through Taos where we decided we wouldn’t pay to see Rancho de Taos. Drove to the top of Sandia Crest, where it was SO cold!
Long drive home. It was an excellent trip.