Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shiprock II

1.92 Shiprock II. This is the sight that started my fascination with the southwest when I was a kid. This massive jagged stone pushed up through the center of an otherwise flat, featureless field with sawtoothed walls of stone running up to it. The walls look too tall and thin to be formed by natural weathering, almost like a massive volcano began to erupt through cracks in the the earth before the magma was frozen mid air. This turns out to be partially true, as the formation is the neck of an ancient volcano that has been unearthed by erosion over 20 million years. Shiprock was like nothing I had ever seen, and that photograph captured my imagination.

Many years later I finally found my way to that field in New Mexico. Along the way I had met a Navajo man in Page, Arizona who had told me a story about a giant bird that nested atop the rock. A young Navajo man had bravely climbed to the top and taken a feather from the bird which he used to make the first fletching, which allowed him to turn the tide in a war. This was a sacred site, and there were many different stories about it.

Hearing all of these stories had transmitted a sense of reverence to me and I was hesitant to approach the central rock. The wind blew so hard across the field that it was difficult to walk. I climbed the hill to the stone wall leading to the rock. Out of breath from fighting the wind as I climbed I opened my mouth to take a breath but my lungs were filled by the wind without my having to inhale. I gasped and choked as I leaned with my hand resting on the wall. I had touched the place that I had dreamed about for so long and it had touched me. I couldn't bring myself to go any further so I left, and shiprock is still in the distance for me.

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