Our special surprise this morning is a trek through “Hasdez’ twazi’ (Lower Antelope Canyon) or ‘spiral rock arches’ as the Navajo call it. Our Navajo guide, Ian Blackhorse Johnson captivates us with stories of geology, local Navajo life, and history, including a local disaster, all helping us to understand that the canyon is spiritual and sacred to the Navajo culture and way of life. For many of us Hasdez’ twazi’ is the highlight of our trip so far.

Read below for our student’s interpretations!

Arlo: Saturated, colorful walls enclose me on all sides. Ancient overhangs frame the sky, etching familiar silhouettes into the vastness above. Sunrays poke through the mazes of complex rock formations. Light bounces across vibrant canyon walls, covering each crevasse in a blanket of color. Antelope Canyon, an astounding and ancient formation, proving that beauty really does take patience.

Mira: We start to descend into the canyon and my breath is taken away.  Huge, amber rocks tower above me. Beautiful crimson formations encase the path on which I walk. As we steadily descend, each majestic canyon wall carries new beauties. Up and down we go, exploring and capturing new images in our minds to carry forever with us. Magnificent,  wondrous, vast and intimidating. This is Antelope Canyon.

Levi: Submerged in shadow I trek through Antelope Canyon gazing at crevasses that dot the bottom. Above, outcroppings shine copper and amber with light from the sun’s rays. I watch my head as the canyon narrows and stare up in awe as it opens up.  When I climb out I am reminded that we are a small part in how the Earth turns.

Fiona: It was an earth-made painting, the world’s fingertips placing natural paints along a blank canvas, molding amber spirals into canyon walls and raining down orange sand to carpet rigid floors. Grooves and openings create recognizable shapes, animals, and designs, forming a roof over us that almost looks like an open sky with a falling sun. I run my hands along the canyon’s walls, allowing my fingers to feel each curve and indent. My palms touch ancient rocky layers, leaving a piece of myself behind for the canyon’s aging memory.

Paul: Magnificent, majestic, and breathtaking, Antelope Canyon lies disguised, filled with tunnels and mazes. Crimson walls stand below ground. What I thought was a normal canyon turned out to be a wondrous place. An hour of time, a lifetime of memories, an experience that will never be forgotten and one that I will cherish. Walls tower over me, sunlight falls above me, cold air washes over me as I walk to the sky, a place filled with grace, made by the gods. No way to describe it. The only words in my mind are amazement and awe as I leave behind one of the most amazing places.

Audrey: Fine sand coats the canyon floor. Copper walls create a colossal formation. I  spin myself slowly trying to take it all in. Glowing sun beams through the narrow crevices. Warm oranges make up the foundation with crimson paths coating the rock. I follow the dusty earth, my face gleaming like the sun. Canyon walls so deep and submerged.

Sattva: Widespread tunnel goes further and further as we continue on the path. Walls look like they expand infinitely, towering over all of us. Trying to reach the far end of stone, pure curvature on each wall going into pits and depths sluggishly along.

Alfie: Narrow bends take me along what seems to be heaven. I lose track of time. My body races with adrenaline. Sun paints the many curves of the canyon walls, luminating the changes throughout history. I walk with respect for the people and their canyon. I imagine death-defying rainstorms wiping out part of the canyon from what it is now. I see the Navajo’s cheerful past throughout the layers of walls. I have never seen anything like it.

Gavin: The sprawling canyon with bizarre rock formation leads me on through tight corridors. Gold and orange hues reflect off the walls, a painting of gray and tan. Narrow passageways lead to circular openings. Sand blankets the ground cascading in from the top. Arches and outcrops formed millions of years ago. Footprints are petrified in stone. Smooth grooves and rough cracks, small creatures running through. Sun seeps through ledges onto the sand.

After lunch, we connect via FaceTime with our Phoenix K-2s who are on their own simulated trip to Glen Canyon back at school. Questions and answers flow freely, as we enjoy hearing about each others’ experiences.

Our kayak adventure begins at the Colorado River where we launch our kayaks for a paddle upstream and into Antelope Canyon where there is water enough to paddle along, unlike the narrow section we explored earlier. Our backs get really sore as we paddle along the 6-mile journey. Icy cold water freezes us as it is splashed into our kayaks by our partners.   Numb feet and sore arms are well worth the endless crimson and copper walls of the water-ridden canyon.

Feeling tired, but proud of ourselves, we are happy to eat dinner, work on our journals, share our Antelope Canyon writing, and take a soothing dip in the hot tub on our deck. We all sleep tight tonight.

(Thanks to Fiona, Paul, and Arlo for kayaking imagery.)

What will tomorrow bring?