The Story Behind the Shot: Kiva

Posted on November 25, 2014

There are some places I have encountered in this world that have a truly special feeling to them. The location in this image is definitely one of those places.

A kiva is a man made stone circle used by the Puebloans for religious ceremonies. This specific site is of unknown origin and usage, but resembles traditional kivas and therefore was given the name False Kiva. This is designated as a class II archeological site, which means it isn’t on the map for the National Park it resides in, and the trail head is unmarked. They do this in an attempt to limit the amount of public traffic to preserve the site.

The hike begins down the road from another trail head, which is also unmarked so it took a little exploring to find the start. When we found cairns (stacked stone markers) leading into the distance, we knew we had found the trail. After about two miles of winding our way through the desert we came to a cliff side. At this point it would be good to tell you that both my hiking partner and I are afraid of heights and as you start to approach the cliff side that contains this cave the terrain looks more and more daunting. Almost every corner we approached had us saying, “I don’t know about this, do you want to head back?” Luckily we kept trudging along and by the time we reached the more intimidating parts, they didn’t look nearly as bad.

After we scrambled our way up the cliff side into the cave, we introduced ourselves to the other photographer in there who was also waiting for the sunset. Following Murphy’s Law, the clouds were working their way in by this point to end the otherwise clear day. There is a similar image in my landscapes gallery taken a couple minutes after this one. In this image the clouds are still yielding to the sunset’s warm light. We were planning on doing a little night shooting from here, but the weather had different plans for us. After the clouds took over we joined our new cave dwelling friend and started our return hike to the car.

Update: So I made it back the next year for a little night shooting and it was totally worth it. Take a look:



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