First Ruin, Canyon de Chelly
Aptly named because it is one of the “first ruins” one encounters when hiking up Canyon de Chelly, First Ruin peaks out from a cave on the north face of the canyon. Although many visitors travel to Canyon de Chelly for the human history and ruins, I like to visit the area because of the geology and sense of time one experiences while hiking in the region. The cross-bedding from the ancient sand dunes are visible up and down the canyon. Desert varnish creates streaks of darkened rock on the walls. Erosion forms giant cracks, splitting the sandstone from the foot of the canyon to the rim. Meanwhile, the river meanders down the bottom of the canyon, slowly eating away at the rocks and soil. These prominent geologic features and processes create a backdrop into which our short human history is set.
First Ruin, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ (16″x49″)