My main motivation for this journey was to tour Antelope Canyon. I had seen the most awesome photographs taken of this canyon. After doing some research, I learned that you needed to be in the canyon between 11:30 - 12:00 (AZ time) March - September for the sun to be directly overhead. After further inquiry, I found a well recommended photography tour which promised a small group for serious photographers only (and no young children.) I had a reservation for the tour on Sunday and I was excited.
When I showed up for the tour, there were 25 or so people standing outside the tour company. This was bad. Then they ask all the people in my tour to gather by the Ford Excursion, there were only 7 of us. This was good. The other six were French and spoke only passable English. This was unfortunate. As we load up with our guide, I asked her how we would be able to photograph in the canyon with all those other tourist (the remaining 17-18). "That's why we are leaving first to get ahead of them."
Then she explains that the upper canyon we will be in is only 1/4 mile long and fairly narrow. (I would later appreciate her use of the term "narrow". )
It took us 15-20 minutes to get to the canyon. In the meantime, I learned that my fellow photographers were from Paris, vacationing here, and chose Arizona for its "Wide Open Spaces" (this canyon not being one). As we turned a corner and first see the entrance to the canyon, there were 7 or 8 tour vehicles parked. (I assume they were not there for show.) This was not good. We climbed out and made our way into the narrow slot. The canyon is maybe 10 feet wide at a very few places, usually 6 feet wide, and at some places as narrow as 3 feet. It is probably 75 - 100 feet deep. It is hard to describe the effect the sun light through the small cracks in the top of the canyon has on the different colored striated walls.
But, when you put 75 -100 people in this canyon at the same time, suddenly trying to capture this beauty is a little frustrating. But beauty trumps all. Thankfully, our guide was most helpful working with us to manage the crowds and in some cases, hold them back (for a minute or so) to enable us to take a photograph of the natural beauty of the canyon with out little Jimmy in the picture trying the climb the wall. After two hours of, what seemed to me, to be hand to hand combat at times, we were making our way out of the canyon. The crowds had thinned and we actually had time (and room) to take some (hopefully) great photos.
Now it was time to make my way back to Phoenix. I returned my rental car and boarded the shuttle bus to return to the terminal for transportation to my hotel. As I sat down, I looked down at my clothes. It was not pretty. I still had on my garb from earlier, that showed evidence of dirt and grime from crawling around on the canyon floor and generally being out in the desert heat. (Not what one generally sees leaving the car rental complex.) On the hotel shuttle I am with an American flight crew. But, I am not concerned. With the way I look, they will never recognize me if they see me tomorrow. Of course, that is if the hotel will let me check in.