Thursday, July 13, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 30: Lower Antelope

Lower Antelope Canyon

Diane scheduled us to take a Navajo-led tour of a slot canyon called Lower Antelope. We started at four in the afternoon.

The climb downward dips into a series an underground chambers. Below the surface of the desert, the caverns weave a weird path. They are open at the top in enough places that they are well lit. We found ourselves marching in the next-to-last timeslot for the day, though. Based on our timing and the angles of the natural light, I expect when the sun gets low enough in the sky, the tour must get dark below. People might see it as somewhat dangerous, probably too much so for insurance companies and of course the tours want to stay insured. 

In the caverns, we spent an hour squeezing from place to place. Sometimes the hollows felt roomy, sometimes not. 

When you start the tour, you're warned that you have to be reasonably fit. You must have no fear of being underground or closed in by narrow walls. Still, the cavern floors were clean and dry. We felt breezes. The shafts above let down a surprising amount of light. The shapes of the rock formations felt mesmerizing.

This is a mostly-underground complex where professional photographers have won contests with their choices on precise use of the colors of the rocks, clouds above, and sunlight.

In our case, I think we got unlucky with our guide, who didn't seem to know any of the science involved with the intriguing geology. (She was young and spent maybe a quarter of her time telling us about her high school, where she had recently graduated.) We would have loved to learn some relevant science. In fact, we occasionally could hear the guides of other tour groups giving them the sorts of information we wanted to learn. 

And that was nice.

Up top, our group got lucky enough to get invited to a science demonstration from one of the more experienced guides. It was a clever lecture. Her presentation showed us how water and sandstone combine to make the unusual formations around us.

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