Our Daily Sykes # 383 – What Watershed

In the grand watershed that feeds the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River there is a Little Colorado River that reaches the big canyon thru a canyon of its own with sheer sides and a narrow width that one might imagine flying over in an aerodynamic motorcycle.  There are signs warning responsible adults to keep impetuous children and pets away as one approaches this gash in the Arizona desert, for without the signs there is often no sense that there is a canyon until you reach the very edge of it.  Persons suffering from Vertigo will want to stay in some Flagstaff Motel.   The Little Colorado River comes out of that part of New Mexico that does not resemble Mars, which is the western part at its belt-line.  There are forests, lakes and mountains and this Little Colorado comes to life in them and flows northwest thru serpentine wiggles until it approaches the Arizona border, where it starts to move more earnestly in the direction of the Grand Canyon.  I found the Little Colorado while using Google Earth to look down from space upon artist James Turrell’s Roden Crater, which over decades he had been arranging with tunnels and other reclamations into a natural light show.  Jean, who is one of the rare ones who have visited it on the ground, gave me the directions.  It was during my own inspection from space that I noticed that Roden Crater was but a few stones throws from the Little Colorado, and what is more only three miles due west from its Grand Falls.  Here I request that the reader open Google Earth and find the place.  It is 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff New Mexico.  The falls are represented-pictured with several citizen snapshots.   And it is easy to find Roden Crater as well although it is not named it is the only crater in a small field of them that shows a path leading into it and a man-made earth-work in it as well.   It a downright surreal with a 2001 uncanny caste.  The Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River are grand, or can be when the river is swelling, which in this arid landscape is not often.  The occasional flash flood makes them spectacular.  The falls are roughly 150 feet high and 500  feet wide, and there is one big step included that is about 70 feet wide.  By comparison Niagara Falls is about 170 feet high and it falls without a step.  Through its sections Niagara  is about 3000 feet wide.  It is also much wetter and whiter.   The Arizona landscape thereabouts often has a red caste to it, and when these Grand Falls on the Little Colorado get splashing the coloring resembles a shake made from a mix of Pepto-bismol and coffee, a tint familiar to persons with caffeine addictions who are also plagued with bad digestion.   I only recently came upon the attached waterfall in the collection of Sykes Kodachrome slides.   In my urge to find locations for his subjects I hoped that this might be a detail from the Grand Falls of the Little Colorado River.  Now I confess after comparing this look at this waterfall with those on Google Earth of the Grand Falls, well, I think that it is not.  Once again we are left clueless by a Sykes’ subject, although not hopelessly so.  (Click to Enlarge)

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