fluid rock in the shadows of Antelope slot canyon
(more of my photos below)
Antelope Canyon in Arizona is among the most exquisite and rare creations on earth. It plunges over a hundred feet to the desert floor from its open rim, and water and wind have scoured it into shapes and colors beyond imagination.
The light in this slot canyon is best at midday, when the sun pours in like a waterfall and the sandstone striations become almost incandescent. But the day of my visit my alarm didn’t go off, and annoyed travelers were waiting in the van for me, worried we’d miss the light.
The driver sped us past ravines, towering Saguaro cactus and dry scrub along this land of the Navajo. We skipped shopping for turquoise trinkets and woven rugs, and I was worried. The photographers needed that good light. Would we miss it?
We arrived at the town of Page and jeeped with our Navajo guide to an unassuming rock formation in the desert. He explained that the beauty of this slot canyon lies deceptively within the rock. Over time, water from a nearby creek has cracked through the sandstone. As the water swirls in, round hollows appear and softer material washes away. A slot within the rock develops from a series of these convoluted hollows, connected by narrow passages of varying width and length. In deeper slots like Antelope, the hollows stacked on hollows climb to many stories: a magical, mystical cathedral of rock.
The canyon is dangerous when it rains; flash floods may pour in before there's time to escape, and hikers have drowned at Antelope. But this day was sunny. The only danger was missing the midday light.
We had traveled far for these precious moments within the canyon. We entered the dark canyon, single file, squeezing through an opening. I gasped, and then just aimed my point-and-shoot camera to capture the surreal world around me.
And yes! The sunlight poured from above, setting the walls aglow. From the rim, warm yellow and orange deepened to red to purple, to deep gray to black in the shadows. Waves, curls, arches, folds, curtains and whorls dazzled me as I maneuvered in a space where lines bent, up seemed down, and inside seemed out. Not an inch of it was less than magnificent.
If I had to choose the most visually stunning experience I can remember, it well might be my few minutes within Antelope Canyon on that sunny day.
Some abstract compositions:
light pouring from the rim
I turned this one around; rock swirls
striations in the glow
a crevice with weeds (a nest?), and a waterfall of light
pool of light on the desert floor of the canyon