Last week I wanted to shoot some landscape at night because it had been a while since I have gone out and shot at night. Living in Monument Valley there are endless areas to shoot at night but an area in Mystery Valley intrigued me, an area that is now closed to the public as it is gated off and is now only accessible by hiking on the dirt road trails. I thought of an arch in there called Full Moon Arch, and I had been wanting to shoot it at night for a long time. I was by myself, my wife had been gone on a trip, and my friend who also shoots night photography with me sometimes was sick so I was a little uneasy about going by myself at night with no moon, because the hike is about two and a half hours’ round trip (turned out to be 4 hours plus shooting). I thought to myself, am I really afraid of the dark? What animal would sneak up behind me and pounce on me? Cougar? Bobcat? A gang of coyotes running up on me? Ghosts, or skinwalkers? I said, whatever, who cares, I am going to do it and I have 2 dogs! I loaded Pufferson and Shilo into the back of my jeep and we set off. When I arrived at the gate I felt half confident but was glad I took my dogs and it seemed they were really happy to go on a night hike with me to, tails wagging and alert postures ready to scope, hunt out the land under the night. I thought I am tough, I thought of my ancestors and people who lived long ago when there were no flashlights, they were tough, so this inspired me and made me somewhat fearless.
The hike was quiet; the sound was ethereal. I heard some horses making some weird noises and owls hooting across the canyon. So for a mental map for readers, there is one main canyon that I was going to walk to the Arch but there are many side canyons, miles in length that branch off from it on my left side as I am walking to the arch location. I heard owls in these canyons and I remembered an interesting book I read about how some people think owls may be Aliens, and my heart rate began to raise as I thought of this every time I heard a ‘hoot-hoot’, and of a beloved cat I had when I was a teenager who was mostly likely picked up by an owl which still made me sad to this day, but I digress. I had seen something weird one time on the roadway pass in front of me at night, a tall white figure that seemed to be running, tracers behind it as it zoomed across the road before me and it was so clear because I was driving with my LED bars on my jeep, lighting everything in front of me. My wife and I had been hiking in a very remote area, and in the area was an old abandoned Uranium mine that was active in the 1950’s, so we think Aliens like the Uranium mines and hang out in the desert. Very weird, I saw the figure, she saw it and after it passed I asked her, ‘did you just see that?’ She said,’ yeah.’ We weren’t freaked out or scared by it, it was like those movies or books you read. We thought, what the hell was that. When we got home we felt it was something weird. Could it have been an Alien, a Grey? Or Skinwalker? Hmmm. But this is almost common with people who live in the country and especially on the Navajo Nation. Navajo magic I call it and I am open to many ideas.
Anyways the hike was good, going good, adventurous. I tried to follow game trails, I seen there were coyotes using it, maybe bobcats or even a cougar, kitty tracks all over, and there were once cows ranging but definitely horses. Desert around me, flora and fauna, I could smell it, Spring season and I felt so alive. Pufferson and Shilo were behind me most of the way, and this made me laugh because whatever we encountered I was going to be the one leading us into battle. I thought they were cowards but they were still puppies, barely 1-year-old. Sometimes they would go off and explore, very cute, and I talked to them as we walked. I felt very connected to the Earth, being under the stars, Sky, Night, millions, the Universe. I thought of many things, and I became at peace, and I felt Hozho. Hozho meaning in Dineh (Navajo) culture, being in balanced, living in balance with everything around you, living right and being happy. I was happy, excited, walker’s high, endorphins, adrenaline, ready to take on anything or see anything in the pitch blackness before me. I had a headlight on and it was on most of the way.
Finally, we came up to the arch and it was just there, waiting for me, telling me its story with its silence and its big hole with stars shining thru it. It was saying, ‘I am timeless and I remember your ancestors and confirming my suspicion of aliens.’ It said, ‘yes, I have seen a lot and aliens are real, I’ve seen them and they are living just like you, everything is alive.’ I am kind of obsessed with Arches and hiking to thru landscapes. I am obsessed with hiking every canyon on the Navajo Nation and knowing where everything is, I know a lot, but there is still a lot I haven’t seen, soon.
I bought a hiking photography bag this past summer on Amazon, Zeznia, its really good. I can fit 3 lens, my camera body and there is a tripod holder, everything fits comfortably and I have gone on endless hikes with it all over landscapes. I thought I am going to shoot the Arch with my 14mm and my 24mm-85. There is a front and a back to it, and one side is beautiful with pine trees complimenting it and the backside is so good with stars everywhere. There are stars almost every night and when I am not shooting I say to myself, I need to be out there right now with my camera, exploring.
As I sat there with my camera taking everything in, 20 seconds, click. Click, over and over again until I loved what I saw and was done, I had to be efficient because my memory compact flash was going low on memory. My dogs were exploring and it was me by myself. What an amazing feeling. I felt like I had gone back in time, I felt vulnerable.
After I was done we headed back and it was such a nice hike. It was a chilly night and my sweat had soaked everything, my bag was somewhat heavy, and I was getting good exercise, and so were my dogs. We were all happy. Before I went to the jeep there was a wall of rocks and there was a chunk of it in the middle that collapsed and I was drawn to it. I spent 30 minutes shooting it. Silhouettes. What a lovely night. I returned home, watered my dawgs, sleep is always good after a hike, especially a night hike.