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Keet Seel, AZ

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Guide 38 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northeast > Hotevilla
4.4 of 5 by 16
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 17 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,272 feet
Elevation Gain -987 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7-10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 27
Interest Ruins
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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21  2018-06-03 Mudhole
38  2015-07-18 Lucyan
27  2015-07-18 VolcanoCLMBR
32  2014-06-21 oshnnsun
36  2014-05-30 IsAli
7  2013-06-15 Lucyan
90  2013-06-01 desertgirl
46  2012-08-04 DarthStiller
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author Desertboots
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 0
Photos 114
Trips 14 map ( 68 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Associated Areas
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Navajo Nation Reservation
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, - - → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Difficult but worth it
by Desertboots

We did Keet Seel in June of 2000. It was an over night backpacking trip and very, very strenuous. We camped out the first night at Navajo National Monument. There is a great little campground there with drinking water and picnic tables. One of my friends has a large truck with a nice camper, but it only will sleep two adults. I drew the short straw and had to sleep outside like a dog. Silly me, I left a bag of chips in the tent with me and a mouse kept tryng to gain access into my tent all night. I didn't get very much sleep that night and spent the rest of the trip thinking I had Hanta Virus. There is a trail orientation meeting all hikers must attend either in the morning or the afternoon. We got there in time the day before and attended in the afternoon. Our orienteer was a German guy named Dennis. He explained the rules and hazards of the trail, such as quicksand and the treacherous sand dunes from hell on the way down, and consequently, the way back up. You take two steps forward the three back. Also, you must carry in all your water. The water was extremely foul as there were cattle grazing all over the place. Also, even if you could filter the water, there were still traces of heavy metals such as Uranium in the water, so it was undrinkable no matter what. It was advised to not even let the water touch your skin. You had to drop 1,200 down a sheer wall of hell into the canyon and then walk along a stream bed for nearly 8 miles. Our packs were loaded with water and very heavy on the way in. That made the stream crossing challenging with the quicksand and all. I was glad to have water proof backpacking boots. My feet stayed nice and dry.

We decided to stay in the river the whole time even though there is a side trail to take if there is too much flooding. You have to climb up two waterfalls, then back up an embankment. We stuck to the water and felt we were lost at one point and my friends went on ahead of me. I started whining out loud thinking there was no one around and one friend came back to me just in time to hear me say 'I hate this f****** trail!'.

We finally reached the campground and pitched camp. You had to walk another half mile to the meeting place to go up into the ruins. It's ranger led, so they wait for all visitors to get there. They only allow 20 per day.

The ruins were spectacular. It's probably the largest, best preserved Anasazi ruin in the country. Our guide was a National Park Service ranger, a Navajo woman named Shannon. We had to climb a 60 foot ladder to get up to the ruins, and I was petrified the whole way as I have sort of a little fear of climbing ladders. But, if I wanted in the ruins, I had to get over it and just go. So I did. Shannon climbed the ladder without using her hands on the rungs, she just went like they were stairs! I was impressed.

The ruins were large enough to hold about 100 people. Part of the ruin was older than the rest but it all dated to about 900 years ago. There were still corn cobs scattered about, I was surprised they could last that long, but I guess they're woody and there were wooden beams etc still there. That and bits of sandals made from Yucca plant fibers. There was a lot of broken pottery and that's where the ruin gets it's name, Keet Seel. It's a Navajo expression meaning broken pottery. Shannon spoke her native Navajo, as well as English and Spanish.

We camped the night in the little oak grove on one of the stream banks. They had it fenced off so the cows couldn't get in, I was happy about that. We didn't want to waste any of our precious water, so it was amusing to wash up in a teaspoon full of water. There are compost toilets though, and that was a blessing.

Then the trip out. For most of the way, we walked downstream so it was easy. Then came the bottom of the cliff. The Cliffs of Insanity! It was the most difficult thing I've ever done physically. The sand dunes were the worst. Ever tried to go uphill in deep sand carrying a heavy pack?? Not easy. Then there were rocky switchbacks going up the side of the cliff. Steeper than steep. I swore if I got out alive I would never go back.

Once we got to the top there was another mile back to the parking lot. There was an auxilliary parking lot at the top, but no one was allowed to park there. One of my comrades had gone ahead, and the other got to talking to a ranger who was coming up when we were and I was just dragging behind thinking I was going to die. There was another group hiking out about when we were, a man, his wife and a friend of theirs. The husband got out fast, he was a strong hiker and was waiting for them at the first parking lot. I begged for a ride back to the main parking area as I didn't think I could make it. It was another mile and all uphill!! No way, at that point. He graciously gave us a lift back to the truck where our friend was waiting. He even gave me an ice cold Snapple raspberry iced tea. I could have kissed him full on the lips if his wife weren't there!!

It was a great experience however exhausting. One of those things you can think back on when you're faced with a challenge and use for mental support!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2001-10-02 Desertboots
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
Keet Seel
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We did a little meander over to Keet Seel, weather was perfect and overcast with a teeny drizzle to cool off. Met a friendly raven or two as guides along the way. Had a chat with a baby foal and some cows. The little houses were awesome and I had a great laugh as the taller members of our tour had to watch their heads on the doorways and I was a perfect fit. :D

The park ranger was very nice and the pottery was very interesting. Really had a great time, until the last two miles of up when the sand in my shoes felt like a sandpaper exfoliation without the benefit of a Mai Tai to take the edge off. Mr. boogenhagen zipped up to the top like a man with a mission, but I took my time and just enjoyed the perfect day of hiking with great views and a lovely destination.
Keet Seel
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What a truly amazing place to visit in Arizona. We did this hike as a same-day 18 miler due to time constraints, but it was worth every minute in the 90 degree heat. Water was continuous along the entire canyon floor all the way to the ruins. Regardless of the online rumors, the water is able to be filtered just fine as long as you're conscious of the sand sediment. My Sawyer Squeeze did just fine. The only dry section is the first and last 2.5 miles where you're descending/ascending the canyon switchbacks, but you get to water very quickly.

The ruins are spectacular. They look so small from a distance until you get up the ladder with the guide and see them in person. The condition of the ruins is much more preserved than I could have expected, and the pottery sherd variety is second to none. I couldn't take enough pictures, and our guide Steve was so friendly and knowledgeable about the history of its past residents.

A real treat to experience.
Keet Seel
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Finally made the backpack to Keet Seel; years after I had 1st learnt of this amazing location. After much hand-wringing over the permits, transferring the permits, attending the orientation ...we were on the long road that lead to the original TH and down to the ruins! YAY!

We met up at the Keet Seel Parking area at 7:00 am MST (Navajo Nation is on MST - 1 hr ahead of AZ Time) and finally started walking down the road towards the 1st of many " you need a permit to go past this point" barriers! The actual trail down the canyon is 7 miles and a good 1.5 miles of old and not so old road walking thrown in for a good measure. Getting closer to Tsegi Canyon, we are greeted with some sun-kissed views of the sandstone cliffs and the shimmering lazy meanders of the creek. Soon we are at the original TH and we plunge down through the sandstone cliffs on a rocky trail-- may steps hewn into the rocks and in other areas the trail is held together with railroad ties, rods driven into the sandstone and some old pinyon logs shoring up the crumbling trail footbeds. The steps are huge and don't work well with shorter legs -- this is painful - especially with all the extra water we were carrying for the wettest dry camp experience! We were caching some water at the river bottom for our climb out and carrying rest for our camp supplies.

350ft descent through the rocks and then we are at the turn off for Betatakin Ruins ( That will be another hike) and after some easier walking, we plunge down a few sand hills for another 350 ft descent till we reach the "junipers" at the end of the cliff. We take a quick break to cache our water under a trail side tree...snack some and then its down to the canyon floor and our 1st water crossing. I was prepared with my 510 canyoneers so I happily waded in and was on my way ... some attempted to keep their feet dry but that lasted a few more minutes. You quickly accept the fact that you will be walking in the water or in the wet sand near the water( far easier than slogging in the dry sand!) Based on reading trip reports, I expected a stinky & gross creek but was pleasantly surprised at the fact that it was not really odiferous or have but the occasional bovine/horse turd in the water. I was not going to drink for the creek but was OK with the "gross" factor. I think not being super grossed out helped make this hike more enjoyable.

We are confronted with 3 canyons coming together fairly quickly ….follow the white logs and your will find the right canyon. Its not too hard. There is also the much talked abut "big rock" that marks the right canyon - if you attend the orientation you will know ! Lucky for me, everyone in the group but us attended the orientation (thanks ya'll) the prior evening so we knew where to go! Its fairly easy walking in the canyon bottom -- just follow the water & keep track of the white posts.
Just so we know, looking down from the water cache area; Long Canyon is to your immediate left with water flowing in it. Next canyon over is Keet Seel canyon, there is water flowing thru it. About a 1/4 mile up Keet Seel Canyon - you run into Dowozhiebiko Canyon( Dry Canyon) branching right. Stay to the left after you enter Keet Seel canyon. There is a large 8' white post marking Keet Seel canyon. Tsegi heads off in a south eastern direction draining the waters from Keet Seel & Long canyons.
Soon we are at the junction of Keet Seel Canyon & Dowozhebetio Canyons & per our drilling from the orientation we turned left. In some areas there is short cuts that go over the sand banks -- some of these are marked with the white posts. We pass Battleship Rock and then Kachina Mother (Pointed Cluster of Rocks that dominate the horizon). The canyon begins to narrow down and soon we are at the "Big water Falls". You will see ATV tracks up until this point - the rangers bring some of the supplies in on ATVs up to this point. We climb up around on a steep sand hill( on the right side) . There is a tiny sign in the side canyon that points you uphill. I find the sign amusing " Keet Seel --Up Hill! We continue on past a few more water falls….Diane gets really hungry so we break for a quick snack just before the last water fall -- probably less than 1/4 mile from camp. Diane crawls into some shade and we reminisce our crawling and hiding in Copper Canyon ( Grand Canyon - Royal Arch Trip). Soon we pack up and make a quick walk to camp. Mike has hike up before us and scored us a nice campsite ( Thanks Mike) - we don’t get the prize camps at the far end with a view of the ruins but our site is nice - tables, flat ground & lovely view. Even the bathroom is close :) - who would have expected a rather nice ( Ok a bit smelly) composting bathroom with TP & sanitizer after a 8.5 mile backpack! They also provided us with huge metal bins to put our packs awesome is that -- no rats, no ravens and not worries about getting the packs wet! Thanks NPS….

We lounge at camp a bit and then decide to walk down to the ranger station and stake out our spot to get on the ruins tour. I get out of my boots and slip into my Tevas. Diane gets into her flipflops and provides some hilarity as she crosses the stream a few times and the creek wants to eat her flipflops…. We come up to the NPS boundary again and let ourselves in closing the gate behind us ( this is to keep the cattle away from the ruins - there are still a few Navajo families that run cattle in the canyon). We are greeted by Diane -she is the wife of the Volunteer Ranger Steve Hayden who is covering the tours for the 1st 10 days after the park opens ( Park Opens Memorial Day). She banters with us, tells us stories and builds up some excitement. We hang out on the benches under the gambel oak canopy and enjoy the chitchat and get some rest. It will be another hour before our tour starts… Diane & I can't wait to see the ruins so we run off to the ruins overlook and sit there in the hot mid-day sun gawking at the amazing scene before us -- hundreds of rooms - an entire village tucked back in the massive alcove. I had seen many pictures of this place but just being there is something else…. If it even remotely on your list -- go! Soon the hot sun gets our attention & we get back to the shade and wait for Steve to finish the tour. We learn that Steve Hayden's grand father Irwin was the head of CWC project of 1934 that excavated the ruins and stabilized them-- their work is what lends shape to the Keet Seel of today. We also learn Steve's father - Julian - a young 23 yrs old worked on the project as the cataloguer and help dejour. This happens to be one of the many project that was funded by the CWC when the country was gripped in the throes of the "Great Depression" -- this was a time that folks worked hard and made a living wage and government lent a helping hand through the CWC program putting people to work on public projects - the park service stood to benefit from many of these projects, in fact I think they worked on about 12 sites for stabilization of ruins in AZ ( I think I heard this right) . Irwin was a Harward educated archaeologist looking for some work & fortuitously ended up leading this project. For rest of the story we have to wait for Steve…. Meanwhile, Diane ( Steve's wife) is showing me where there a Mouqi steps -- they are all over that area -- quick scary ascents ( I cant fathom how you descend these…) to the rim. She also mentions there is an easy walk up round the bend to the all the more "why these steps?". Perhaps these are associated with rituals, quests or just fun ?

Soon the other group walks back with Steve and after a short break Steve joins us for our tour. After some background and introduction … Steve takes us up to overlook and continues to share with us the lives of this people -- what was impressive was the images he shared from 1910 ...the front of the ruins is a plain farmable land with just the beginnings of arroyo back cutting …. Markedly different from the deep gullies that cover that area -- just last year ( or 2 yrs ago ?) the 75yr old trail to the ruins. Dramatic changes in landscape in a short time ...more on this later. We hear about CWC, his grandfather Irwin & his dad, their work at the site, what conservation meant in 1934….and finally Steve leaves us hanging with the fact that his grandfather just picked up and walked to Kayenta one day -- no trip report was ever submitted for this work back in 1934. This has remained a mystery for a long while -- until Steve found his grandfathers diaries from that time at their family home in Tucson. ( Web search tells you Steve lectures based on this information from time to time!). He leaves us wondering and we make our way across the brand-new trail -- briefly pausing to look at midden that is eroding out ...Basketmaker period we are told. We are soon at the base of the alcove ….its cool, shady and well protected from the elements, the summer sun never gets to the ruins ( full sun in winter for warmth)- these old time builders knew solar gain & studied the direction of movement of the sun over time.

We stop by to examine examples of pottery sherds and the corn cobs that are scattered every where. I catch sight of corrugated, Kayenta Black on White, Tsegi Orange, KeetSeel Black on White ...and few more that I don’t know, shards of bowls, ladles, pots are scattered everywhere. Steve tells us the stabilization work and specifically on how the retaining wall is built up...we learn that the CWC built up quite a bit of that wall -- using same techniques that were used by the people that originally constructed these walls. You can tell where the walls are original & where the reconstruction starts - this is intentional. We climb up the 70 ft ladder -- easy climb, we see evidence of some steps hewn in sandstone towards the higher end. This puts us on the main street of this thriving village - it is easy to see a bustling community overlooking thriving farms - paradise in a land of plenty with water food and shelter. People began settling in Keet Seel around A.D. 950. In A.D. 1250, a new group of settlers arrived and a steady influx kept the village growing until it contained more than 150 rooms.

Part of the ruins are closed - these are the unrestored ruins - much of it is intact and well preserved. You look down main street and see may homes with windows facing the street line this path. Each house seems to be built at different times, slightly varying in style and details, there are tall poles that line this path - perhaps birds / animals were tethered to these?, were they used for hanging things one wonders… some walls are masonry and others are "wattle and daub" construction. A good majority of the rooms are intact with ceilings. Its very interesting to see these living rooms & storage rooms - a few hearths, loom pole holes, ledges, shelves, some matates and lots of pot sherds and corn cobs. You see evidence of sharpening - axes, blades - some predating the ruins.

We descend to a different level -- the village looks to be laid out along 3 main streets that together run the length of the alcove broken up by small courtyards, kivas and granaries. There are 4 different kivas, each build differently yet serving the common cause of community gathering- some burnt down by the freak fire, evidence of rapid construction as well as very careful detailed work - some of it very beautiful, a few pictographs ( Canada geese, turkeys...and human figures and patterns, one 4 fingered hand print in yellow and black) a petroglyph of snake ( evidence of Snake Clan association with this site ?). The yucca & turkey feather ropes still bind roof beams together -- it all looks so new - testament to the protective dry desert alcove that has preserved so much of the ruins in the Desert Southwest.

We hear more about the restoration work, the attention to detail and the philosophy back in 1934 of conservation, how ruins were viewed, how the white man was the "discoverer" of so many places that clearly show signs of current and prior habitation … Steve walked us to a wall where there was a interesting window - he goes over how the unstable wall was shored up and then for the great reveal about his grandfather leaving the site - Well! Its Steve's story so you will just have to walk up to Keet Seel in the 1st 10 days of the season to find the answer!

Further on we hear about macaws and how the community raised turkeys, of lush fields and granaries so full that rooms in houses were converted to store grain….that they traded far and wide...with the surplus of grain they definitely had the bartering power. We peek into a room with deep marks of axe sharpening - these predate the ruins, we see dark soot deposits on the alcove again predating the ruins, pottery of different time litter the site… timber has been reused on the site - all evidence of a repeated occupation of this location. Steve tells us of native lores of many lands - the Hopis, Zunis talk of Kiet Siel in their migration stories - look like Keet Seel was a stopping point for millennia. I wonder if the "Clovis man" made it here ...perhaps someone will find a Clovis point ( After all they have found one in the White mountains at Casa Malapias). We wrap up our wanderings at the home of someone well-to-do: multiple rooms with fine details on the walls , an open courtyard near the kivas….trappings of a power of bygone eras.

Steve talks about the end times -- there is evidence of hasty reconstruction, walls, towers part built…. Haphazard conversion of rooms into granaries …. The theory is that the sand dam at the mouth of the canyon blew out in a massive water event ( or perhaps just over population leading to tree cutting and erosion and hence the loss of wetlands ?) and that dropped the water table, accentuated erosion and soon the delta was being washed away - the people saw this loss of a land and soon tried to build kivas to hold ceremonies to appease the spirits ...but they knew its was soon time to move …..they had done this before in many places...soon the elders decided it was time to move, they put up a huge log across the threshold to the village - they were closed. Families sealed doors, stored corn in pots in their granaries and sorted out their pots, stashing them for when they would return. They carried with them the essentials to start life in a new place ...there were no horses or mules, what they were carrying will be on their backs…. One last night under their alcove that had been so good to them, they woke to a wondrous morning and took their 1st steps out of the canyon ...Babies in arms, mothers walked, elders lead the way and the young men forged ahead … looking for a new land to live. I sure there were many a backward glance at their village - the rooms where they lived and loved, their farms and granaries, the bubbling springs, ceremonial kivas…. They were walking away in small family groups looking to the future…. their time here was done , just like their forefathers who came here from their other settlements; they now walked forth not knowing where they will end up. Perhaps they ended up on the mesas of Hopiland? Or did they walk further on …

I think of these thoughts as I drift off under the stars ….next morning we too pack up and head down the canyon. We make quick time along the canyon, briefly pausing at the waterfalls, overall the canyon views are pretty: the early light warming the cliffs and throwing golden reflections in the creek. We tick of the miles and soon are at our water cache. We stock up and soon are headed up hill -- sand hill and then the stone steps past the sandstone buttes …. The creeks dropoff behind us, the day warms… soon we break the rim and at the TH and the long walk back to the car park feels like the longest part of the hike. A quick stop at Tsegi overlook and onto Navajo tacos at Cameron Trading post. We toast to fond memories of our hike to Keet Seel and soon we are speeding on towards the urban lights of Phoenix on a ribbon of asphalt… a far far distance from our morning of walking along the glittering creeks re-tracing the pathways of the Anasazi elders and those that came after … in a slower time when one had time to live in sync with nature. What a trip - an opportunity to reach out and touch the past in the company of some wonderful friends, lifetime memories and a pause to appreciate the way it was…. In the wonderful Desert Southwest that is keeper of so many special memories!

Interesting Read on the Wetherill Contoversy:
Keet Seel
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Keet Seel, what an incredible experience. My roommate organized this trip; Ben and I decided to day-hike it and everybody else did an overnighter. We camped at the top on Friday night and were treated to an incredible meteor shower before heading to bed. The Sunset campground is really nice with bathrooms and running water, considering that it's free to stay there.

We hit the trail at 9am after the mandatory orientation. The view from the top of the canyon is pretty incredible! After making it down the switchbacks and hitting the creek, we encountered the family of wild horses that the ranger warned us about. The mud made the hike a little slower than we wanted but it was still a lot of fun. Saw fresh mountain lion tracks as well as some freaky long skinny worm creatures in the water, of which would probably love to make a new home in your intestines if you are crazy enough to drink the creek water here. We stuck to the stream bed instead of taking the high route, which turned into quite an adventure as at one point I found myself sinking waist-deep into quicksand! I had encountered quicksand before on the Paria but nothing like this. Ben had to help me out as I was just sinking, sinking. Took a little bath in the next waterfall to wash off the mud and continued on our way. :)

We made it to Keet Seel a few hours ahead of the backpackers and met up with the guide, a quietly funny fellow named Bill. He gave us a pretty thorough lesson in the history, inhabitants, geology and edible plants of the area. The alcove is beautiful, the ruins are still so intact and I really enjoyed being there. We were shown the moki steps leading up both sides of the canyon, I am blown away that people used to climb up those. Before long the tour was over and it was time to head back so that we could get out of the canyon before sunset.

We should have cached some water on the way down as it was a pretty hot hike back out. We rationed our water and had just enough between the two of us. We encountered the wild horses again, this time much closer. Monsoon clouds began rolling in and began sprinkling on us for the last mile of the hike. We made it out with plenty of daylight left, just before it began pouring on us. It was such a great day, full of incredible sights and sounds and tidbits of knowledge gained about the area. I absolutely LOVE how even after years of hiking in Arizona, there are still so many gems like Keet Seel left to explore. :y:
Keet Seel
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See Stillernator's triplog first.
Chris posted an invite on HAZ and we thought it looked interesting. Then it became iffy because of the monsoons closing down the Keet Seel Canyon. Thursday Aug 02 1330 Chris called to say that he had received word that the Park Service had opened the trail but could close it again if they got more rain. But Betatakin (Talastima) would be open as a Plan B. So we were on. I knew it was Chris's birthday so I bought cupcakes, birthday candles and a big Tervis insulated Pittsburgh Steelers tumbler.

The Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Savings Time so they are 1 hour ahead of AZ at this time of year.

You must take the official orientation before the hike. We went up on Fri Aug 03 to take the 1515(Navajo) orientation so that we could get an early start on Sat Aug 04 to hike this as an 18 mile dayhike. Otherwise we would have had to take the Sat Aug 04 0815(Navajo) orientation and not been able to start the hike until around 0930

Eric & I connected with Chris and Gordie at the Lowe's at I-17 and Happy Valley. About 0615(AZ) we began our caravan to Keet Seel with the Stillermobile in the lead.

Arrived at the Navajo National Monument Visitor Center at 1130AZ (1230Navajo). Sunset View campground was empty. We chose campsite #9 (the jersey number for Daniel Sepulveda - a punter for the Steelers). We set up camp. Chris doesn't just camp - he lives large and tailgates. He set up the official Steelers tailgate chairs, hauled in 3 big coolers filled with food and beverages, fired up the gas grill and starting grilling brats with his official Steelers grill utensils. He set up a 4 man Coleman bug screen and cots.

Headed to the Visitor Center for orientation. Got to the orientation 5 minutes early so we could get the good seats at the back of the class, but we were the only ones at the orientation. The Ranger spoke so softly that calling his volume a whisper would be exaggerating. Since Chris was the Permit Holder and would be the one getting into trouble if we screwed up, we just cracked jokes and dozed in and out.

After the orientation, we hiked the Rim trails. Great views of Betatakin (Talastima). Hiked down to the Aspen relict forest overlook then back up and over to the historic Contact Center and historic Ranger Hogan. Then headed back to camp for Chris's Birthday Party. Chris unwrapped the Steelers drinking glasses. Since we were on Federal land but inside the Reservation, we weren't sure if liquor would be allowed, so we stuck to juices (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Chris gave us some different Serbian fruit punches. But after a couple of glasses, I kept getting them confused. One was apricot and another one was plum. I shared some blue agave nectar. And Chris kept grilling. He grilled brats and chicken and veggies and steak. We need to buy him a Steelers chef apron.

Chris and Gordie started talking about heavy metal bands. Since the only heavy metal I listen to is Neil Diamond and Toby Keith, I turned in anticipating an early wake up.

And the rain started pattering on my tent.

I heard some heavy metal ringtone and then some grumbling. I had expected to hear a ringtone of Steelers Coach Tomlin announcing morning practice, but Chris must not have that one downloaded. It was 0315 and time to break camp and hit the trail.

The forecast was mid-80's on the Rim and mid-90's in the canyon. Partly cloudy with about a 20% chance of rain. The cloud cover and some light breezes kept it acceptably comfortable. I had 3liters in my hydration bladder, 2L in an MSR cache bag, 1L of Elete electrolytes in a Nalgene in my pack and 2-750ml bottles of Elete electrolytes in the pockets outside my pack. So 7.5L total . I ended up with about 1.5L in my hydration bladder at the end of the hike. Eric carried 6L. He carries Accelerade powder and mixes his electrolytes as he needs them. I think Chris had about 13L of water and Gordie about 9L.

Drove to the Keet Seel parking lot and started hiking about 0600. I got a good pic of dawn breaking from Tsegi Point. Going down the steps, Gordie had lagged a little behind Chris. As we approached the caching point by the junipers just before the drop into Laguna Creek Canyon we heard Gordie shout "Where's the trail?" He had blown through a turn and dropped below the trail into some juniper scrub. We could see the trail above him. Eric gave him verbal directions and I started hiking back up the trail if needed. The kid is a very good athlete, but a newbie to this kind of hiking. His big dSLR camera bag must have weighed 8-10lbs and Chris had set them up very conservatively and carrying plenty of water. Eric loaned his hiking poles to Gordie to mitigate Gordie's discomfort.

Because of the monsoons, there was an incredible amount of water and mud and quicksand in the canyon. I had a comfortable old pair of Five Ten Campfour approach shoes that I was willing to ruin. They worked perfectly. Time will tell if they are ruined. Eric wore Salomon lowcut dayhiker boots with mesh. The mesh drains really well and kept out pebbles but let in all sorts of silt and sand that built up under his toes. In hindsight he would have probably been happier with some Gore-tex trail runner and gaiter. We tried to keep our feet dry for the first half dozen crossings, then just gave up and realized we were going to get our feet wet sooner or later. We found 3 different types of quicksand. The mud pudding - the sort of quivers under foot. The muck - where you sink in a few inches. And the deep - where you sink in above your knees. The worst quicksand is around the bigger rocks. It appears that the flood must create an eddy around the rock that then fills in with the silt sand. We became pretty good at recognizing the different quicksands and negotiating them. The actual stream itself seemed to have less quicksand than outside the streambed. Eric sank past his knees in one area. I scrambled around and held out my hiking poles. All he could do was balance with the poles, slowly raise his leg and foot and move it forward then repeat with the other foot. As he got closer to solid ground I was able to help with pulling on the poles. I told Chris and Gordie to go on the other side. I did not say ". . . Eric almost died". If I had been thinking quicker I should have thrown Eric's hat on the quicksand and yelled that I needed help getting him out. Eric & I were in cruise mode and would get a little ahead of Chris & Gordie - who were both busy taking photos - but we would occasionally wait so that we maintained intermittent visual contact. Heard a raptor, spotted its nest, then watched it glide down and over us. Light underbelly - maybe a Cooper's hawk.

We got to the ruins and connected with Patrick Joshevama, the Park Service guide on duty. I greeted him in Dineh not realizing that he is Hopituh Shi-nu-mu (Hopi) and Sun Clan. If I had known he is Hopi the proper greeting would have been "Haw" or "Um waynuma?" I had been to the Hopi Festival in July so we talked about some of the festival and some of the Hopi that I know. He is a carver and was carving an atlatl and making atlatl darts. Keet Seel and Anasazi are the words used by the Tavasu (Hopi name for Navajo). The Hopi words are Kawestima and Hisatsinom so I used these words in talking with him about this place. He brought us some binders of photos of what Kawestima looked like years ago. We moved to the second set of picnic tables closer to the ruins, ate lunch, rested and put our packs in a metal storage container. Patrick arrived and told us to wear headlamps if we had them. Chris had been a little anxious about the ladder, but when he actually saw it and started climbing it he realized it wasn't that bad. I think he got a little out of his comfort zone getting on and climbing down one of the ladders in the ruins, but he quickly got comfortable with these ladders. Patrick was very knowledgeable and very patient. We kept making wisecracks and joking and we had him laughing at us. He showed us the tool stone and we joked "Oh, this was their True Value hardware store!!!" "this is a big storage room, did it have always low prices, was it the Hisatsinom WalMart?" He explained that the Kivas were the men's social clubs so we joked about them having an app for football scores. I asked about two holes in the Kiva and he explained that the loom fit in them. I asked "Women were allowed in the Kiva to weave?" Patrick explained that Hisatsinom men were weavers. Just before we left Patrick said "Ok now I have to show you the museum". He had hidden some unique items under some stones. He pulled the stones off and had some yucca cord, some "yucca and turkey feather cordage", a weapon head and some incredible small and intricate beads on a thread. Patrick explained that the Hisatsinom raised turkeys in pens near the spring below Kawestima. They used the feathers to make a cord that they wove with yucca fibers into yarn for blankets and rope. I shared the only joke I know in the Hopi language and Patrick laughed. As we were leaving, Patrick went back to working on an atlatl dart and shared the secret for making straight shafts for arrows and atlatl darts. I thanked Patrick. Kwakway is the male form for Thank You in the Hopi language. I asked about kawayo and he told me maybe. I bid him "Nu' pay nimani".

I agree with Chris that on the way in we were enthralled by the approach to Kawestima. On the way out we saw that the ground was covered in pottery sherds. I disagree a little with Chris, I did not feel like a tourist (but I didn't take as many photos). I felt like I was visiting the family home of a friend.

Eric and I led on the way out but would wait and occasionally make visual contact and verify that they showed no unusual signs of distress. Approaching Laguna Creek we did see kawayo - a mare and a foal. We tried to get close but the mare watched us warily and when we got within about 100m she and the foal would trot a 100m away.

We regrouped at the cache point. Chris hit the jets and was gone. Gordie was hurting a little and I later learned that he was developing horrible blisters. I wish I had known because I would have stopped right there and shown him how to treat them. So Gordie and I hung together and he was amazed that an old fart could hike so well. I mentored him on hiking and training techniques. Eric had spent some extra time at the cache point taking care of his feet and changing socks so he started a little after us. I made visual contact but soon he passed us. We got to the parking lot about 10 minutes behind Chris and Eric. Eric and I went to the Visitor Center so he could buy some gifts for his daughter.

We drove to Tuba City to the Quality Inn. We checked in and had some complimentary Navajo Fry Bread. Shared some with Gordie. We asked the Concierge at the Quality Inn about fine dining in Tuba City. She told us the best was at the Hogan Restaurant at the Quality Inn. I did not tip her for this advice. We went to the Hogan Restaurant. We started with the fresh salad bar. I had grilled salmon and steamed vegetables. Eric had the Taco Plate but was not brave enough to have Fry Bread tacos. Chris and Gordie came in for dinner. A British couple came in for dinner and asked the waitress what kind of beer the restaurant had. A little sheepishly she explained that they were on the Rez.

Went back to Chris's room for Serbian fruit punch. The trail had beaten Gordie up pretty bad so he nodded off. Chris wanted to hike Mormon Mountain by Flagstaff but with Gordie being tired, we called that off and retired for the night.

Eric & I woke early. Had the complimentary breakfast at the Hogan Restaurant and came home. Great trip with great buddies.
Keet Seel
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I've turned down this hike a couple times now as ruins don't excite me much. Figured I best jump on the opportunity as it may never present itself again.

Paul Johnson gave us our orientation. Little did I know it would have such a lasting impact. On to the hike I loaded the gps route. Eight and a half miles, really? Under twenty for the day put a little zip into my mentality. The only question left was how long was the admiring session at the ruins going to take?

At the gate I was careful not to pinch my fingers as described at orientation. The views from the get-go are spectacular. The hike through the canyon was quite scenic and enjoyable. The sand wasn't too bad considering all. Heck the creek crossings were rather refreshing too.

At the main waterfall we got off track. The side canyon was the most difficult part of the day for myself. I got stuck in mud quicksand. Not deep but it took some serious energy to break free. Back on track we opted for the high trail. It has a big wash out that drops ten to fifteen feet and right back up and the rest travels easy.

At the rangers check-in we were greeted with the most sincere and warm welcome I ever recall. Diane and Steve Hayden insisted we stop in. I'm not into the whole smashing up herbs and running scalding hot water over for consumption deal but jj3 took them up on it. Steve asked if we understood that the alcove was closed. I thought he was joking. Nope, there was a big washout last year. Since they don't do excavations or something (yeah I was listening well) the tribe needs to examine these washouts when they naturally occur. Sounded good to me! Since I'm not into ruins much I'm thinking this is shaping up to be a decent

Steve is the perfect guy for those interested. I sincerely felt bad as he poured out information. Joel, Kyle, Rob and countless others would likely find this stuff fascinating and more importantly be able to respond intelligently. After nine hours or maybe it was thirty minutes we were off to view the ruins from a distant. Of which I overheard could take around two hours. In the back of my head I'm thinking this will take longer than a movie. Oh please just shoot me now. Later jj3 explained that was if we toured the ruins. ahhh

So we sat at the benches looking over to the ruins. Steve was giving a prize presentation on god only knows what. I'm scanning for buzz words that I can relate to like integer, taco, gps. Wait a minute... hey! why is everyone else here curled over asleep and I'm the one paying attention!

Steve is beyond cool. We simply share different interests. He did enlighten me on the importance of a few things. We said our goodbyes. Steve invited us back, Diane gave us a warm sendoff. Heading back I was in awe that we had already gained 1k and would be hiking down hill until the big climb out. It never got hot the entire day. I enjoyed it all thoroughly. At a moderate pace this only took six and half hours.

For jj3 this completed his "100 Hikes in Arizona" book. I asked "so what are you going to do next", he said "I'm throwing the book away"

Thanks jj3 for a cool little trip to an area of Arizona I've never seen! :y:
Keet Seel
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I took a trip up north with Amy, Brett & Aaron. We started the drive up after 4pm, ate in Flagstaff and got to the Navajo National Monument shortly after 10pm (11pm Navajo time). We set up camp and got some sleep. At 8:15p we got the permit and starting hiking from the visitors center. What's a few extra miles. :sweat: The weather was nice will a breeze blowing and down hill hiking. The trail in is fairly easy to follow but there are a few areas where you need to pay attention but there are markers. The hike was nice but I was in it for the ruins. We didn't know what to expect on the water crossings but the water was shallow and my hiking boots stayed pretty dry. With about 2 miles to go Aaron and I took the upper trail while Amy & Brett stayed on the creek trail. The creek trail is easier but the view from above was a nice change. When we got to the ruins we stopped and ate a snack while Max (the Ranger) got ready to lead us up. The tour went well since there were only 4 of us in the group and Max answered questions in detail. Tibber must of had a voodoo doll of me working because I took over 100 pictures on this hike and I don't remember taking that many ever. :o The hike out was warmer but we were on cruise control and got out in about 3 hours. :sweat: Thanks for setting this one up Amy.
Keet Seel
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Special thanks for Belinda for posting her trip on HAZ and letting me join. This hike has been on my list for some time and outta-the-blue...I see a post in the forums for KEET SEEL...I love this website; even got to met some new friends (nonHAZers) from Tucson.

We had done the hard part of the trail the day before when we did we knew what we were up against on this OAB hike. The night before, we completed the mandatory ranger lecture back at the VC (basically a power-point with various pictures of the trail) and were excited to get on the trail the next morning.

Overall, the trail is fairly easy...the hardest part is mentally preparing to walk in urine and feces for several hours. :o I wore my Keen water shoes w/trail socks which were great for the hike, but when I got home, it took forever to hand wash those extra nasty socks while showering.

The weather was predicted to be very nice, so I opted to NOT take my 4+lb tent and only took my new Eno hammock (1lb). This was my trial run sleeping in the hammock and my experience was "so-so" (I have a tough time sleeping anywhere it seems); plenty of oak tress to hang from in the campground though. I carried extra water since I left the tent...caching 3 liters at the bottom of the hill, prior to the first stream crossing. (very good idea for future hikers btw)

We arrived at the campground first...around 2ish...and then we all bolted off for the tour with our muddy, stinky, wet feet. Our tour guide was a young woman ranger, but she seemed to know her stuff. We took TONS of pictures and gained a lot of information about the Anasazi. The site itself is amazing with preserved artifacts including midden piles with human hair, corn cobs, shards, etc. The ranger uncovered her personal stash which included some arrowheads and beads. Belinda got a double tour of the ruin as her battery expired midway during the first...she asked the ranger if she go back to camp (1/2 mile) and get a fresh one and she agreeably said "yes".

When I got back to our campsite, I found several Phoenicians from another website...a few were also hanging in hammocks, so I was able to get a few tips from some seasoned "hangers"...there was also a very nice couple for Colorado who spent quite a bit of time getting to know us. In total we had 14 and the campsite seemed a bit cramped...

This campsite has THEE NICEST compost toilets I've had the pleasure of placing my cheeks upon..."If it's pee let it be, if it's poop add a scoop" is the motto there...the scoop being a small cup of wood-chips which you can pour onto your steaming pile when finished. It seemed to work as the facilities were simply fantastic!!!

The hike out the next day seemed to go really quick. The hardest part of course was the sandy climbs at the beginning of the steep hill climb. Hiking sticks ARE VERY helpful for this section...

Once out, Mitch/Belinda had some issues back at the Visitor Center. I blame a bellagonna school teacher (who was at the site w/the rangers as a special guest) who I'm sure over-reacted to a few comments made by Mitch and caused a huge fuss with her ranger friends. Had it not been for that issue, I would give Navajo National Monument a 5-star rating. Well heck...okay I'll give it 5 stars anyway...all the bathrooms were great, campsites clean and garbage cans empy; the staff (for the most part very kind and helpful, and everything was straight forward, all we had to do was follow the rules. This park is really a gem and if you haven't been, I highly recommend.

Bob, IChun, Belinda, Mitch and Lois...thanks again for a memorable weekend!!
Keet Seel
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I am a more recent HAZ member, and I thought I'd post a few triplogs of some past hikes I did before I joined, so I apologize if this is a bit "late to the party" :)

I did this hike just after Memorial Day, 2011, with a good hiking buddy who LOVES ruins. This was the holy grail for him. As neither of us are experienced, or interested in, camping, we did this as an out-and-back in one day. We had already spent the prior week doing various hikes around Northern AZ, starting with the hike down and back to Supai, then Canyon de Chelly, finishing up here at Keet Seel. We were primed and ready.

I have read a few other very detailed triplogs so I will not repeat what is not necessary. I will, however point out some of the differences:

Thursday, June 2, 2011. We were the ONLY hikers headed down, there was NO ONE in the campground, NO ONE at the ruins, except for the excellent ranger Steve Hayden, who gave us a private 2-hour tour of the Keet Seel filled with all of those wonderful stories reported. He even let us move a few "do not enter" barriers solely to take unobstructed photos; we didn't enter anywhere not permitted.

Water in canyon: I wore Salomon river shoes, no socks, which were extremely comfortable going in and out of the water. At no point did it smell, and we did not have to walk for any lengthy periods IN the water, so it must have been lower than in other years reported. We did run into a few cows but generally no issues with smells.

Sand dunes: yes. They suck. Oh wait, that's no different than anyone else reported :)

Ranger Steve: we left him and his wife some Oreos and other treats we knew we wouldn't need for the hike out. Everything they have down in the yurt/hut near the ruin has to be carried in; bring your ranger a treat!

Weather: slightly cool and always breezy. I kept on a long sleeve lightweight windbreaker the whole time while my buddy went sleeveless. To each his own.

Time: We started our hike just before 8am from the parking area, getting to the first water crossing at the bottom of the cliff an hour later. We were at Keet Seel proper by about 11:30am, and spent about 2.5 hours there. At about 2pm, we headed back, and got to the top of the canyon rim just after 5pm. We were back at our car by 5:30pm.

Orientation: we did it the day before with a few others, which is why we were surprised there were no other hikers this day...we didn't even pass anyone on the way back. It must have scared them off. It was well worth it (and required anyway).

LOVED this hike. Will do it again someday!
Keet Seel
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We made a mad dash to make the 4pm orientation only to discover that Clyde, who had come up earlier, could be our representative for the ABC group. So it was on to meet up with him at a camp spot he had already checked out for us. Friday nite's dinner and beverages (margaritas with ingredients supplied by Clyde) were top notch.

Our rise time was 4:40AM with hopes of getting on the trail by 6AM... well okay, 7AM. We loaded our packs with 6-7 liters of water for the entire weekend. We would stash some water toward the bottom of the trail going down. This would be my heaviest pack ever and I was truly worried I would not be able to put the darn thing on my back and still remain standing but I did. :)

After hiking the first mile/mile and a half or so we finally came to the sign at Tsegi Point before descending down into the canyon. After getting off the road, this hike's scenery started out with a bang and kept on giving. It was just fabulous. I tried to be good and not take too many pictures :( so I could try and keep up with the group. Fairly quickly we came to the stairs I've seen in other pictures. They are a bit steep so having those trekking poles made them a tad easier.

As we rounded the corner we came across some natural somewhat enhanced bedrock steps. While walking down these we are greeted again with some incredible views of the sandstone walls and canyons to the east and south. Eventually we came to the more primitive part of the trail where keeping your balance was a bit of a challenge at times. And then there's the sand. While it is totally cool to slide down it, you know all the time that coming up is going to be a bear... but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

We stashed our water and had a snack before heading down the last few hundred feet to the bottom of the canyon. And what a canyon view... to your left (west) is the Praying Hands down Long Canyon and before you Laguna Creek with Tsegi Canyon to the east and Dowozhiebito Canyon ahead. Almost immediately you are hit with a challenge as to how to make your first of 50 creek crossings if you stay creek side the entire way. We made our way east a little and then got down to the water. And as with most creek trips, for some strange reason, you try not to get your hiking shoes wet even though you know the likelihood is 100% you are going to get your shoes wet...oh, unless you're Te-wa :D . And you might as well make your long pants shorter or zip off the bottoms cuz on this trip, your lower pants will get wet and probably muddy.

Now mind you, this isn't your lovely flowing clear water creek. In fact, the only time this resembles what you like to think of as a creek is the occasional cascade of water and waterfall. This creek is a little on the smelly side :yuck: due to the cattle that roam freely in these canyons plus it's gooey underneath in some places and there is a lot of quick sand. You quickly learn to stay away from the area around boulders as you will start sinking up to your ankles in no time.

In a short while we started heading east into Keet Seel Canyon marked by a tall white post. The trail leaves the stream on occasion as we keep an eye out for the white post markers to indicate where the trail is headed. Some of the white posts were quite tall; I presume so that you could see them at quite a distance in case you got off the beaten path.

Shortly Battleship Rock rises to the right and beyond is a pinnacle known as Kachina Mother. This marks the 1/2 way pt of the hike. We continue to follow the creek bed until we came upon a 50 (I'm not good at footage so this is a guess) foot waterfall splashing down the wall formed by a resistant layer of Windgate Sandstone. From what I read this area was formed some 200 million yrs ago and the Windgate formation resulted from giant sand dunes. The canyon walls above this layer consist of the Kayenta and Navajo Sandstones. This is where we decided to take our lunch break as we would only be 2.5 miles from the campground. To get above the waterfall and continue hiking along the creek you go off to your right and then head up a very deep sand trail through bee weed of which there would be a lot of here and there along this hike.

Surprising enough we will encounter 3 more waterfalls before getting to our campground. After this water fall (why doesn't it have a name? - it's surely big enough), in about 15 minutes of hiking or so, we came to the fork where you can opt to avoid the creek and hike above it. The sign warns of Flash Flood and Quick Sand dangers. Heh, we were all about staying low near the creek. Little did we know we would be entering "quick sand alley" :o but onward we went. It was starting to get pretty hot but the occasional breeze would be enough to cool you for a moment or two.

Another hour later and we would get the chance to go up a smaller waterfall. Tiffani and Anne stayed below initially and got caught up in the muck :-$ until we told them to come up around the falls. I'm not sure where they would have ended up but I think our trek was much easier. Lo and behold we would come across another cascade of waterfalls in about 15 minutes. We were surprised by these encounters so it made our trek up "quick sand alley" that much more adventurous. We finally saw the sign for the campground and trudged up a sandy hill into the campground area that was covered in bee weed.

We settled in somewhat and then realized it was 3PM Navajo time and we needed to be at the ruins by 3 for the last tour. Clyde offered to make a beeline through the bee weed the 3/10ths of a mile to the Ruins to meet the ranger. The rest of us followed soon thereafter. We had to cross the creek AGAIN :bdh: , climb up another sandy hill and make our way through a field of bee weed where we found a gate, more bee weed and then the ranger. Once we were all gathered it was up the 70 ft ladder to the ruins. Going up that ladder was fun, coming down, not so much.

The ruins are quite spectacular :worthy: as is the view. A 180 ft retaining wall supporting a walkway, runs the entire length of the alcove. The rooms are many (they say about 160), some large and some small. There were six kivas I believe, storage chambers, tons of shards & corn cobs, and some great artwork. The last people carefully sealed storage rooms containing corn-filled pottery vessels before moving on. Perhaps they intended to return :-k

Once back at camp, we all take a break and then Wendy, Mike and Clyde headed out to see if they could find a spring for some water. Those of us that stayed behind didn't think they would be successful but not only were they successful, they found a spring very quickly. Clyde came back first while Wendy and Mike did a little exploring before bringing us back the Mother Lode. I screamed softly with delight when I took my first drink of the spring water. I thot Wendy had put ice in it :lol:

The next morning we arose at 5:30AM. I, however, had gotten up at 3AMish as my watch said 5:30 and had started to prepare for the hike out when I realized no one else was stirring, it was still pretty dark and the moon was still to the east and obviously we couldn't start hiking until we could see the ground... so I went back to my tent, fiddled with my watch and then saw the time as 3 something :roll: . GREAT!

The hike back was just as much fun altho Anne and I started ahead of everyone at 7AM. Mike caught us at the 4 mile marker and praised us for our hiking skills : queen : as I was sitting on a rock above the creek trying to catch my breath and rest my weary bones. Anne eventually went ahead and I was passed by Clyde and then Tiffani came up but stayed with me and then Erin and Wendy came along.

Accompanied by Wendy I made it up the hill in 1.5 hr vs the 1 hr down. In spite of the grueling task, we had fun and stopped to smell the :budrose: es and soak in the incredible scenery. The funniest thing though was when Wendy went around a corner and asked me, "Do you still like me?" and I of course said, "Why yes" and then I saw the stairs ](*,) . I thot we were nearly home free....I had forgotten about these steep stairs. So up we went. Shortly thereafter it's a long road that you have to walk on as you get back to the TH. It started to sputter rain but never rained.

My longest backpacking mileage trip ever and I felt pretty good but since most of the hiking was on level ground, the 17 miles didn't seem so bad. Coming back with overcast skies and even more important, coming out of the canyon made for a nice hike. Someone was smiling on me this day.... :pray:

And here's a little video:

Permit $$
Keet Seel Permits are available by calling 928-672-2700

Navajo Nation Reservation
Navajo Permits & Services

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Flagstaff, take 89 towards US 160. Get on US 160 and follow it till you see the signs for Navajo National Monument. Turn there and the trailhead directions can be obtained at the visitor center. You have to book ahead of time by calling Navajo National Monument.
128 GB Flash Drive... $14
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