Mid-trip Blog Post- Kayenta, Arizona

12 June 2010

This morning we are at the Wetherill Inn in Kayenta, Arizona. We’ve been out in the bush for the last 10 days and decided to do a hotel night before heading on today to Navajo National Monument. The highlight of our stay in Kayenta was our visit to the Navajo Code Talkers exhibit. It is housed at the Kayenta Burger King, and the Visitor’s center next door. We spent about two hours looking over the exhibit, reading about it, and watching part of a video on the Code Talker program. It is a little-known part of history and will tell you something about the patriotism and fortitude of the Navajo people. If you are interested in World War II history, and you will be in the area, you will not want to miss this. Here are a couple of random links to the exhibit- Roadside America link, Bridge and Tunnel club link.

The weather has been as it usually is in the  summer in the region- sun, sun, more sun, and wind. The temperatures have been hot and the wind has been a constant, ranging from a breeze to gusts strong enough to blow our gear away. The wind has been welcome though, as the gnats up in Utah have been a problem.  We have experienced a change coming down into Arizona- the wind was stronger here yesterday, blowing in a storm. While we saw but a few light cumulus clouds during our time in Utah, yesterday here in Kayenta those few light clouds turned to dark storm clouds. We had a shower in the afternoon and a full-on storm with thunder, lightning and driving rain in the middle of the night. It would have been a fun night to be in the tent!

We stayed at some of our usual camps over the last 10 days, and found a couple of new ones. We did lots of exploring and driving of dirt roads and two-tracks. We found ghost towns, old mines, a historic grave out in the desert, ruins, and lots of rock art. We visited a few rock art sites by truck along the way, and saw countless panels on our 3 days in lower Grand Gulch.

Barrier Canyon style rock art near Thompson Springs, Utah.

We did a 3 day backpack from Collins Canyon trailhead down into Grand Gulch towards the San Juan. I have done it before but, as is always the case, saw ruins and panels that I walked right by before. Visibility changes year by year, and season by season, but also by time of day and direction of travel. For example, walking down-canyon in the morning you might see a huge panel that will be invisible due to the bright sun if you were walking up-canyon in the afternoon. All the more reason to re-visit old hikes and spend more time out in your favorite places! There was water in the lower part of Grand Gulch, though not the cleanest and not as abundant as I have seen it before. The potholes and seeps are drying up and if this continues water will be scarce within the next couple of weeks.

For more information on Grand Gulch and rock are of the region, visit the Desert Explorer website. We’ll be back in Colorado late next week. Look for a more extensive trip report then.