You haven’t heard of Kasha-Katuwe. I hadn’t either. I learned about it from an off-hand comment from a young woman I’d rescued at White Sands. She came running down the sand dunes waving her arms, completely turned around in the vast whiteness. As I drove her back to her vehicle she mentioned going there next and showed me a photograph. I couldn’t believe I’d not heard of it, with the park being so close to Santa Fe. I’d passed this way on previous road trips, having seen both Santa Fe and Taos, and thought, I’ll see something new on this trip through.
I decided to drive the back roads as I am wont to do, which led me through the Kewa Pueblo and up to Pueblo de Cochiti. Kashe-Katuwe was deep in native lands. It’s another park that has restricted opening and closing, apparently some kids from Albuquerque began to write on the rocks like they would in the city. I found myself waiting on a cold morning by the front gate to be let in. This meant there would be a bit a hustle to get through a slot canyon and upwards towards a mesa top in order to catch the sun at a low angle.
It was great, as for some time I had the park all to myself. After catching first light I scrambled through a great little slot canyon and climbed until I gained a view of the unique formations that make the place really special. There were several images I saw as I drove through the pueblos, like kids playing basketball on a dirt flat outside a home, that’ll remain on the monochrome of my brain. Being an outsider with no previous connection I didn’t want to just jump out of the truck and start making photographs. You do what you can to show respect. I did take a couple scenes of still life while passing through.
The whole place was like Utah in miniature, tucked away in the mountains west of Santa Fe. As I walked off the mesa I remembered the words of poem I’d learned while in southern Utah.
She gave birth to me from the wet smell of clay
Beneath the sky
When my eyes, they open
Sun-soaked cliffs of sand
White-tip blue mountains
Held me in their arms
And sang to my red blood
Songs of yellow flowers
On black mesas
And I sing