|Hiking||6.00 Miles|| 3 Hrs ||2.00 mph|
|500 ft AEG|
|Coal Mine Canyon
9 hiking trails
La Posada Hotel in Winslow AZ as base camp
This was the number one reason for planning this multi-hike excursion into Navajo and Hopi lands. Ever since I saw the HAZ hike description and photos posted by Ben and Krey, I was hooked and knew I had to visit...
I was concerned with finding the trail head since all references to Coal Mine Canyon site the lack of signage. Mile Marker 337 and 338 are quite visible and you can spot the distinctive windmill from Hwy 264. The dirt road was frozen and snow covered, but easily traversed by my F-150. Any thaw and I'm sure the resulting mucky-muck is impassable.
When we arrived at the picnic tables with BBQ pits trail head, we were not alone. Another couple was just wrapping up a photo shoot and were ladden with equipment trekking back to their SUV.
We explored the rim and followed a couple of paths down into the canyon. Lynn and I also checked out the mining remains along the north side of the rim.
References to Coal Mine Canyon all make mention of the purported resident ghosts. The following quotes appeared in an Arizona Republic article by Sam Lowe on January 7th, 2007;
But those who plan to spend the night should know about "the ghosts."
Stories are told by Native Americans and others who claim that, on certain nights when the moonlight dances across the hoodoos, a white mist rises from the bottom of the canyon and forms the shape of a beautiful young woman.
Some say the apparition is that of a Navajo woman who was walking along the rim with her husband and small child. The man and child stumbled and fell to their deaths. The grief-stricken wife went back to the spot every night for the rest of her life, and her ghost returns when the moon is full.
Another legend tells of a different tragedy: A young man ventured into the canyon on the eve of his wedding. His bride-to-be followed but never found him. She continues her search as a milky apparition that walks along the canyon rim on moonlighted nights.
The men who mine coal here also have reported strange happenings. They say they hear knocking sounds when they work at night, and if they look into the canyon, they see an aura, which means someone has just died.
In her book Arizona Twilight Tales: Good Ghosts, Evil Spirits & Blue Ladies (Pruett Publishing Co., 2000, $16.95), Jane Eppinga writes that Hopis believe the figure is of a woman who became deranged more than 100 years ago and died when she fell into the canyon while trying to reach out to spirits. Her people buried her in the canyon, but on the fourth day after her death, she climbed out of her grave and now appears occasionally in the moonlight.
Eppinga also writes that Navajos bring their sick to Coal Mine Canyon because they believe that if the misty woman dances to the north, the sick person will be cured and good things will happen. But if she dances to the south, misfortune and death are likely to follow.
So when you visit Coal Mine Canyon, enjoy the view and take lots of photos. But if you go at night, well . . .
Ben mentions in the HAZ hike description additional Moenkopi Canyons - Coal, Ha-Ho-No-Geh, Bat, and Blue. If these additonal canyons have half the sights Coal Mine Canyon offered, I'm going to have to check them out! Think this may be a future combination hike/back-pack adventure I'll have to research...
For the record, the 9 hiking trails include...
1. Beale Wagon Road
2. Homolovi (Sunset crossing)
3. Onyx Bridge
4. Rainbow Forest
5. Painted Desert
6. Hopi Three Mesas
7. Coal Mine Canyon
8. Rock Art Ranch
9. Chevelon Canyon