When you see water in the desert, it is truly like a mirage. The juxtaposition between so much flat sand and rock and this rushing course of water makes the mind do a double-take. From where does it begin its journey? Where is it going? Its energetic motion is so apparent in a landscape that is full of earth and rock as far as the eye can see. Sometimes the water is emerald, sometimes, aqua, and sometimes it is somewhere in-between, as turquoise as that lovely stone indigenous to the area.
The canyon is below ground, not in front of you. When you get out of the car, there is nothing but a desert plain of flat rock, blowing sand and tumbleweeds. To approach the canyon, you walk along the surface of the desert and then before you, you see a crack in the ground about as wide as your foot that fans out into a V shape. You step in, one foot directly in front of the other. You descend, step by step and your body, as seen from a viewer on the ground, is slowly swallowed up by the Earth. It is as though you are walking from a beach straight into the Ocean. The Earth closes over your head and you are under the ground, entering a world of gold and russet tones.
It is a bizarre feeling to walk where the waters have walked and to see the essence of the rushing waters in the sandstone walls themselves, carved into waves, swirls, and eddies. It is like one of those black and white block prints, where you aren't sure you are looking at the woman or the bird. Am I looking at the sandstone swirls or where the water was swirling? The sandstone looks like a wave but it isn't but it was made by the waters, so perhaps it is?
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse' bighanilini, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." It is a very sacred place and it is out of respect to have a Navajo guide to take you in.