Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hubbell Trading Post and on Home

After visiting Canyon de Chelly, a stop at the Hubbell Trading Post is a must. The post was crucial to the Navajo return to the area. It was established in 1902 by John Lorenzo Hubbell. 

The trading post served as a community gathering spot where news was shared, goods traded, letters posted, etc. Hubbell assisted the Native People in writing letters, settling quarrels and acting as go between with them and the government. He opened his post to everyone as a hospital when the smallpox epidemic hit the reservation.  Hubbell encouraged the native weavers and silversmiths in their crafts giving them fair prices for their goods. The Hubbell Trading Post was made a National Historic Site in 1965 with the understanding that it would remain a working trading post. 

 The post itself is a large compound including the trading post, the Hubbell home, a warehouse, barn, corrals, sheds, coops for chickens, guest housing, gardens and orchards. Now the compound includes National Park Service administration offices and a visitor center.

 The trading area includes a bullpen where gossip and staples were exchanged. People can still shop there for household goods. There is a jewelry room displaying handcrafted Navajo jewelry. While we were there the trader got a phone call from someone with goods to sell. He bantered with him establishing a time when the man could come to trade. Before ringing off, the trader cajoled the man to bring a special item that he knew the man had made. Also in the jewelry room were Navajo made baskets. A separate room held blankets, rugs and wall hangings of all designs. Many had tags specifying who the maker was and where she lived. All were expensive on first glance but then we began to understand that these took hours and hours to hand make. Price per hour spent in producing the item made the cost less shocking. 

 The trading post is restored to the condition that it might have been seen as of 125 years ago. However a large white tent was being erected that would house an annual market where traders from all over would come to bid on Navajo handicrafts on auction. This auction helps the native people and the trading post financially and keeps native art in museums and peoples homes. 

This is a small wallhanging that I bought. It is made with the corn stalk symbolizing the tree of life and it remains so today in Navajo culture. The cornstalk is standing in a Navajo basket. The weavers today usually do not spin and dye their wool as the process is too labor intensive and takes too long to complete. Using this wall hanging as an example, the weaver would have to do a lot of dyes to make this little rug. 

Heading home from Navajo country straight south to Interstate 40, you go right through the Painted Desert and just north of the Petrified Forest. Dave had never stopped to see it and we had time so made a quick swing through both. I had seen it before and had stopped to read all the signs and take numerous pictures with Sandy and Robb when we came down a few years ago. There is lots to see but we were a bit pressed for time. Needless to say, beautiful vistas, petroglyphs, petrified wood, dinosaur bones all there to see. It is worth a longer look but here are a couple of photos that I took. 

 No shade. It would be miserable here in summer. 
We stopped in Holbrook for lunch and decided that we had a bit of time to stop and see what Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff was all about. 

 Walnut Canyon is also a National Monument. It is very near Flagstaff just off Interstate 40. It is a beautiful canyon with dwellings made by the Sinagua people in the shelter of overhanging cliffs 800 years ago. These people hunted and farmed and gathered useful plants and also traded with neighbors. They were able to farm in that time of more abundant rainfall but there is evidence of water conservation techniques. The Sinagua left the area and may have assimilated with the Hopi according to the literature we got at the Visitor Center. There are lovely trails and access to 25 dwelling rooms but the trail decends 240 steps and my knee was having none of it on that day. So we will return on another day to see these cliff dwellings and enjoy the different plant life zones along the trail. 
Instead, we decided the more sedate 0.7 mile Rim Trail was more our speed that day. It was a nice day and the Rim Trail was delightful. An interesting arachnoid caught my eye as we were walking. My first glimpse of a Tarantula in the wild!

 He/it was just crossing the path, minding his own business. We did not disturb it but did bring attention to it to others who were walking the trail. 

 There is a dwelling in there somewhere, I think. 

 The trail down into the canyon winds around and around. It will be fun to explore on another day. My knee is feeling much better. 

So that is the last of the summer excursions of Dave and myself and without Luci the Airstream. With 2017 upon us, we are anticipating camping in the desert with our friends this Christmas and then a round of fiddle contests and bluegrass festivals with camping at each. Be prepared for more Travels with Luci and have a Merry Christmas!

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly has been on our must see list since moving to Arizona. We intended to include it on our northward journey in June 2016 but the brutal heat put that side trip off. So in early October as the temperatures cooled, we took a road trip without the trailer. North on Interstate 17 to Flagstaff for a good lunch at the Northern Pines resturant. East on Interstate 40 to Holbrook and up through Navajo land to Chinle and the Holiday Inn.

         Wide open road with buttes here and there. 

Chinle is not a pretty place but the Holiday Inn was a pretty spot. It was an unusual adobe style construction. Here are some photos from our room. 

We made reservations for a canyon trip through Antelope House tours for first thing the next morning. 
Our tour guide, Ben, had a truck that held 15 or so people in the open air. There were eight of us on board that chilly morning. 
The resturant at the Holiday Inn had a good breakfast buffet that we enjoyed before meeting our Navajo guide in the parking lot. Several guide services are available taking motorized tours, horseback and camping trips into the National Monument. Canyon de Chelly was established in 1931 to preserve it as a record of human history. The canyon has been occupied for 5,000 years according to the park literature. The first inhabitants built camps and etched or painted their stories on the canyon walls. A later group now called the Basketmakers, built on the canyon ledges for housing and storage. They hunted and grew corn and beans. They also made wall paintings. The ancient
 followed the Basketmakers. These Anasazi or ancient ones built the multistoried villages and kivas with decorated walls. This group moved on for the most part around 700 years ago. After that the Hopi people migrated here and used the canyon in the summer hunting and farming. Finally the Navajo came, built homes and added their own designs to the canyon walls.
The sandstone walls were carved out over time by rivers and streams. Walls of 30 feet begin near Chinle and rise to over 1,000 feet deep into the canyons. 
We begin our tour by registering at the Visitor Center. Nearby is a campground with mature trees. The paved road stops here. Only four wheeled drive vehicles can navigate the stream beds that serve as roads into the monument.

        Dave in the open air truck. The extra pads were necessary as was holding on!

The snowmelt river cuts close here in spring. 

 Ledge community. No one is allowed access to these nowadays. 

Horses roam free and Navajo families have small farms that grow corn, beans and squash. Peach orchards are also planted. 
This is Antelope House, so named by the wall paintings of Antelope that still can be found here. Our guides family has a summer house and concession stand nearby selling Navajo crafts and sandwiches. No electricity or septic systems here. Pit toilets have been installed by the Park Service. 

The White House as seen from the overlook drive above the canyon. 

There are many etchings and wall paintings in the canyon. 

Another look into the canyon from above. We see evidence of small farms as we peek over the rim. 

Paved roads skirt the monument above the canyon with overlooks built to see some of the cliff dwellings. There is a Trail to the White House that the public can take without a guide. You are cautioned to lock your car and take plenty of water along if you take the hike down into the canyon. 

As settlers moved west and land and water and minerals beckoned the white people, the Navajo or Dine as they refer to their people came into conflict with them. Conflicts escalated ending in a forced evacuation of the Dine to a reservation at Fort Sumner in New Mexico that they call the Long Walk. 
The Navajo returned and rebuilt their lives, farms and sheep herds. They began trading their baskets, jewelry and rugs for staples. Trading posts brought news and cash money into the Navajo way of life, adding to their culture and disseminating their beautiful craft work that is sought after to this day.