Antelope Canyon. A breathtaking place. A magical place. Also a very hectic place. Upper Antelope Canyon is heavily visited by groups of tourists wanting to witness and capture its unique beauty. We were one of at least a dozen groups of 10-12 people that filed through the twisting canyon during our fast-paced visit.
Our guide, McCarr, was a small, no-nonsense Navajo woman who let us know in no uncertain terms that we were to follow her instructions or be met with her motherly wrath. During her intro speech while were still parked in the vistors’ lot, She spoke to us like stern matriarch would have when we were little. ‘Look, when we go in this store don’t u go asking for nothin’, touchin’ nothin’ and don’t wander off and get lost. And don’t make me have to tell you twice!’ One of our group, a grown man of at least 40, fell behind a couple of times during our tour because he wanted to take more pictures. I witnessed McCarr smack his hand while he was attempting to take a picture. A grown man!
But like a mama or auntie, she was stern because she knew what was good for us (and she had much more experience in the sometimes-unpredictable canyon than we did (an Antelope Canyon flash flood in 1997 killed 11 hikers). And since no one in our subgroup of 5 girlfriends openly defied her – or at least didn’t get caught doing so – she rewarded us by taking some amazing photos of us and our birthday-girl and helping us get just-right shots of key features and the ever-shifting shafts of light within the canyon. The rest of the tour, though, was all yelling and ‘hurry-ups’ and ‘move-alongs’ and ‘come this way, no I said this way!’, while trying not to run into or be run over by the next tour group frantically snapping pics in front of and behind us.
In the midst of the madness, which I had expected from reading tour reviews, I tried to have a more serene and memorable experience with the canyon, which, quite honestly, filled me with a sense of joyful awe. I let my arm drag along the canyon wall as I walked slowly at the tail end of our group, the underside of my forearm, my palm and the pads of my fingertips gliding along the cool, smooth- grooved surface of the canyon, stopping for a moment to press my cheek against the coolness, then my right and left eyelids – which temporarily relieved the irritated feeling from all the fine dust and sand swirling around. The sensory experience of my physical existence being introduced to the canyon’s would last longer than the photos, I figured. Or at least, it would add a richer element to the memories when I perused the photos later today and years on.
Have you ever visited Antelope Canyon? What was your experience like?