First leg of my trip to northern AZ last week. This is a "secret" spot up on the Hopi Reservation (though it seems to be gaining more popularity in the photographer community). After a long bumpy drive in I came to the only sketchy obstacle, which was crossing a large wash. Luckily, there was no water running, but the bottom was wet, soft mud. Momentum helped me through it and I soon approached my destination. I hopped out of my truck and explored for a couple hours. As is the case with Coal Mine Canyon and any other NE AZ sandstone destination, the landscape is initially overwhelming and seems messy... not all that pretty. With time, however, (and as the light starts to get better) everything starts to make sense and take form (from a photographic standpoint).
After some exploring I decided to hop back in my truck and drive around the area a bit more. Upon hitting the crossing of that wash again, I was greeted with a 15 foot wide stream running through it! Apparently there was some monsoon action somewhere upstream! Suddenly I felt a bit like Alexander Supertramp in Into the Wild. It was still pretty shallow, but momentum hardly got me through the initial wet mud and the addition of water would have made it really sketchy. I first decided I wouldn't try and cross it. I don't have four wheel drive or much ground clearance, and the area has no cell reception and sees very little traffic. I figured worse case scenario I'd be stuck there a while... Fortunately I had days worth of supplies (and the water would only last a day or so at most, though the mud would have ended up even softer and more difficult to cross).
I decided to turn around and drive the rest of the road heading north away from the wash, as I remembered studying the map and seeing it continuing on for several miles and eventually hitting another main road. This ended up being a bit sketchy as well, but doable. It crossed a few sandy areas where I was again thanking momentum. Feeling my truck fishtail through sand is always fun
After hitting the main road and stocking up on some comfort food at the nearest rest stop, I backtracked to my destination, comfortable with the fact that I'd be able to escape the next day without having to worry about getting stuck in a creekbed. That evening I explored and photographed, then experimented with light painting while a storm approached from the east. That night I camped nearby.
The next day I headed to Kayenta to check out some sand dunes my sister had visited a few weeks prior while researching an endangered milkweed. I saw them from a distance, but decided not to explore after realizing the access was on a private ranch. She had been able to explore them with no issues, but something tells me the Navajo Fish and Wildlife emblem on her truck is more convincing then some kid in a Toyota with a bunch of camping supplies. I drove around and checked out the area some more, then cruised on back to Blue Canyon for some unfinished business.
After my couple days up on the rez I headed back to flag for 3 days of climbing at Priests Draw