Sacred Days

Glen Lewis

Words are weak and my images are lame. They cannot begin to describe the magic of this desert that was laid down grain by grain in a Jurassic wind. Power and intensity may be used but sacred days cannot be put down into prose. The trails of memories run deep through the Navajo sandstone. This area at one time is said to have rivaled the size and the aridity of the Sahara. Eventually the dunes petrified into sandstone. You can see the different layers which were laid down in different ancient periods. If you look hard enough and seek answers, you will become more baffled at how the millions of years have given such immense gifts and so many very small gifts. To use a line from Bladerunner, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.Ē This land has seen things we could never believe and most of it has disappeared like tears in rain with only subtle clues left behind in an immaculate landscape.

We spent several days in the Escalante River system and its feeder canyons. There are so many thousands of places both on the map and not on the map. Each place is a small microcosm in a vast landscape that almost cannot be imagined even when you are there. I will try to illustrate that but you must go to understand. We were deep in this area last May as well and since that time I have learned one thing. Once you go, it will change your life whether it be big or small. Everyone I spoke with has come back again and again. The pilgrimage may be from Oregon, Montana, L.A., San Francisco or New York. The seekers and adventurers come from far away and once they find themselves in this enchanted desert they return again and again. They are all interesting and have a story to tell. A very short piece of the journey follows here with four of the 200 unique images I captured. We spent time in several slot canyons both big and small, viewed ancient petroglyph panels and went a few places over the slickrock that absolutely furthered the changes inside ourselves. Some of the sights, we are sure, have not been viewed by many other beings on this earth. Many are simply inexplicable.

We began this portion of the journey sixteen miles down Hole-In-The-Rock Road out of Escalante, Utah to Egypt road and then ten miles to its end. This was our step off point for two adventures; 1) our backpack through fence canyon to the Escalante and the following dayhike on into Neon canyon which is recounted here and 2) the attempt into Egypt 3, a wicked slot that is miles long, a journey which brought unforeseen rewards which may be recounted later.

The hike in through Fence is pure enchanted magic. May is our favorite month and the thousands upon thousands of wildflowers were abundant. The Mexican primroses shone like beacons and were accompanied by so many other varieties and colors of wildflowers, some of which would look perfectly at home in a florist's pot or a charmed garden.

Coming out the same way was, in a couple of places, through deep sand at steep angles which we named the Lhotse face in jest. It was great fun going down the ramps with our heavy packs, taking absurdly long steps but the going back up was just the opposite. Nevertheless, we really did not notice the walking or the weight of the packs, such was the ambiance of the place.

The strong Linda who always gives more than she will ever take from this world:

The journey is always the destination for us but the destination down in the primordial land was something very delightful though. Once more words mostly escape me as this place cannot be easily described. Neon canyon is named for the way the pinks, purples, reds and blues change with every sweeping moment of the sunlight across them. Each translucent grain of sand that forms the sandstone captures the light in ways that color cannot clarify by the words themselves. We went in very early and as the light reflected off of one wall to the other, the neon glows from the inside. At the end maybe half a mile in you reach a place that is stunning; it has been named The Golden Cathedral. In this image you can see about halfway up the walls so one can see at least how miniscule one is in this small space in a land so vast. The two holes go all the way through to the sky. People rappel down through them into the pool below at times.

Yes that is Linda at the bottom to show some kind of scale.

I donít rappel into the pool but step into it gently, set my tripod down and wait for the ripples to disappear. For me the pool is a reflecting mirror, a way to try to see. As you can see the walls where the direct sunlight hits and the walls where the reflected light from the far wall catches are vastly different in appearance. The walls in deep shadow are dissimilar still.

I cannot image anyone who comes to this place could possibly be unmoved. Two hundred millions years of time whatever that could possibly be now hold more secrets than can ever be understood by the little molecules we are. When we climb up on the slickrock and see for a hundred miles in every direction we feel a power that is very palpable. So many secrets, many still out there waiting.


©2004 Glen Lewis

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