Desert Cold, November 2003

By , November 30, 2003 10:02 pm
Last light on the Pueblo Bonito Great House, Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Last light near Pueblo Bonito Great House, Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The "Mohedrus," our nickname for a sign at El Comedor steak house, Moriarty, New Mexico

The “Mohedrus,” our nickname for a sign at El Comedor steak house, Moriarty, New Mexico

Day 1…

•We got off to an early start. As usual, we drove through gloomy weather until we hit the New Mexico border, where the clouds parted. Forecasts for our destination indicate a slight chance of rain. Snow would be nice. At the visitor’s center near Tumcumcari, we got materials about all kinds of stuff we don’t have time to see. Next time, next time.

•Military truck: NPOKUS.

•Sign at Cline’s Corners: “Mugs, spoons, shotglasses: huge selection.”

•In Moriarty, New Mexico, stopped at El Comedor restaurant to photograph large spiked, rotating sign, later nicknamed “The Mohedrus.”

•Made camp before dark, then hiked the Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail for a brief sunset image.

Cairn, Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail

Cairn, Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail

Day 2…

•It rained off and on all night, but was dry by morning

•We hiked the Peñasco Blanco Trail, the longest in the canyon, in the morning, in some very unusual light, with a cold wind swirling around us. Peñasco Blanco is an outlier of the main Chacoan community. A spur trail took us to the famous Supernova Platograph, which is believed to represent the sighting of the Crab Supernova of July 5, 1054, which was also recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers, and may have been visible during daylight hours for 23 days after it occurred.

•Very nice afternoon hike to the Canyon Overlook, followed by last light at Pueblo Bonito

The legendary Supernova Platograph, Chaco Canyon

The legendary Supernova Platograph, Chaco Canyon

Day 3…

David above Casa Rinconada

David above Casa Rinconada

Very cold at night.

•Pearl blue skies and bright sun for this morning’s hike to Tsin Kletsin, one of the best in the canyon. We made the loop, starting at Casa Rinconada, and returning via the south gap. We have now hiked every trail in Chaco Canyon.

•After lunch we broke camp, then hiked Wijiji, one of the lonelier trails in the canyon, under perfectly blue skies.

Along the Tsin Kletsin trail, South Mesa, Chaco Canyon

Along the Tsin Kletsin trail, South Mesa, Chaco Canyon

Day 4…

•Aztec Ruins National Monument; I shot more and better than I expected, including some interesting black-and-white. Cold air and blue skies – I shot the cliché view inside the great kiva.

•We spent the rest of the day at Angel Peak Recreation Area, which we found to be visually very interesting, but lacking in trails and facilities. We hiked to the bottom of some canyons and arroyos before positioning ourselves for sunset.

Restored kiva, Aztec Ruins National Monument

Restored kiva, Aztec Ruins National Monument

Day 5…

•At the “Plague Town,” made better pictures than the last two times combined.

•Odd event, near the New Mexico-Texas border: we saw state troopers stop the entire flow of traffic in the opposite direction on I-40. About five minutes later, they stopped all traffic in our direction of travel. After about 15 minutes, with no explanation, they opened our direction.

The signature formation of Chaco Canyon, Fajada Butte, and a cold desert sky after sunset

The signature formation of Chaco Canyon, Fajada Butte, and a cold desert sky after sunset

Additional images:

Angel Peak National Recreation Area, New Mexico.

Intricately eroded alkalized soil carved from Kirtland Shale and the Nacimiento Formation stretch to the horizon at Angel Peak National Recreation Area, New Mexico.

Angel Peak on the left.

Angel Peak on the left.

Peaks similar to Angel Peak, just to the east.

Peaks similar to Angel Peak, just to the east.

Although there are no marked trails, we hiked some distance amidst the erosions. We found the experience hauntingly lonely.

Although there are no marked trails, we hiked some distance amidst the erosions. We found the experience hauntingly lonely.

Looking west-northwest from a ridge as evening approaches.

Looking west-northwest from a ridge as evening approaches.

The moon rose behind us as we awaited the golden moment.

The moon rose behind us as we awaited the golden moment.

Angel Peak at last light.

Angel Peak at last light.

The reconstructed great kiva at Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, New Mexico.

The reconstructed great kiva at Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec, New Mexico.

Window in the great kiva, Aztec Ruins.

Window in the great kiva, Aztec Ruins.

Masonry at the Penasco Blanco great house, Chaco Canyon.

Masonry at the Penasco Blanco great house, Chaco Canyon.

Stone walls at sunset, Pueblo Bonito great house, Chaco.

Stone walls at sunset, Pueblo Bonito great house, Chaco.

Masonry window, Pueblo Bonito.

Masonry window, Pueblo Bonito.

Walls and moon, sunset, Pueblo Bonito.

Walls and moon, sunset, Pueblo Bonito.

Shadow falls on back walls of Pueblo Bonito.

Shadow falls on back walls of Pueblo Bonito.

Looking down Chaco Canyon to the northwest at sunset.

Looking down Chaco Canyon to the northwest at sunset.

Chaco Sky after sunset.

Chaco Sky after sunset.

Clouds and cliff looking west about 15 minutes after sunset.

Clouds and cliff looking west about 15 minutes after sunset.

Stone in gap on the easternmost trail at Chaco, Wijiji.

Stone in gap on the easternmost trail at Chaco, Wijiji.

Most of the Wijiji trail follows a service road.

Most of the Wijiji trail follows a service road.

Mission graveyard south of Farmington, New Mexico; I consider this one of my most successful photographs from the American southwest.

Mission graveyard south of Farmington, New Mexico; I consider this one of my most successful photographs from the American southwest.

Stop sign at sunset, northwest New Mexico.

Stop sign at sunset, northwest New Mexico.

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