Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Monday, May 19, 2014


Deer Creek Narrows

The last time I was at the Deer Creek Patio was probably 20 years ago.  Still, if you asked me (even before my trip there this month) I'd say that it was in my top ten favorite places in the world and certainly my favorite place in the Grand Canyon.  

It was fabulous to be there again.  Sadly, the giant cottonwood tree I'd remembered has washed out in a flash flood but otherwise the place was as I remembered.  Waterfalls flow to shallow rivulets along flat expanses of tapeats sandstone which reconvene to form more waterfalls in a deep sinuous gorge. 

The Southern Paiutes say this is the resting place of their ancestors and the Hopi, Zuni, and Hualapai also claim it as sacred ground.  If you look carefully along the canyon walls you'll see ancient hand-shaped pictographs.  Not too long ago, travelers rappelled into the narrows below the patio, but the tribes have successfully lobbied to prohibit that for religious reasons.

Detail, Deer Creek
The morning hike to Deer Creek was to me the centerpiece of a 10-day trip which felt like a pilgrimage.  We were 13 photographers and many of us had traveled together before.  There were hardships and challenges (think 50 MPH blowing dust) and tremendous rewards. The storm light and elegant canyons filled us all with (dare I say it?) spiritual awe.  We worked hard and reaped the rewards.
Sunrise, Little Colorado River
Of course, there was more; an evening rainstorm with fast-changing light, sunrise on Chuar Butte with the bright turquoise Little Colorado River in the foreground, and the breathtaking bounced light over my head in the tortured layers of Blacktail Canyon.

Jack Dykinga, our leader, often says that this place will change you.  He was right.

We were pilgrims.

Maybe you are, too.

More images from the pilgrimage are on the website.


In one of those delightful synchronous moments that surface periodically, Larry Lindahl posted this quote during a talk at Sedona Photofest in June;

"The key to a pilgrimage is to embark on the trip with a heightened intention.  We are not just tourists; we are going to honor someone or something.

By honoring what is sacred to us, we make it more real in our lives.  Inevitably we return from the pilgrimage, and this is an essential part of the meaning as well.

We're supposed to return to our normal lives, except that we return transformed, carrying the experience with us forever, having touched the reality of what we love."

-Ming Dao Deng 

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