Photographs by Stu Jenks
Coalmine Canyon, in northern Arizona, is called that because part of its exposed strata is a thin vein of coal. Coalmine is actually a number of canyons falling off from a high mesa, dropping probably a good 800 to 1000 feet to the canyon floor. Its walls are pink, purple and white with a line of black, and the sandstone is so soft, you can easily crush it underfoot. Neither traditional Hopi nor Navajo medicine men go to Coalmine Canyon for they believe it is haunted, and it is said that on a Full Moon night you can see the ghosts of Coalmine dancing on the pink walls. I’ve never seen the ghosts but one time years ago, when I hiked deep down into Coalmine, I felt energies of good and evil having a little battle. Maybe I was just too hungry or too tired and I just imagined the whole thing. Maybe not. I’ve definitely felt Death Places in there at times, and in those places I do not stay long. Whatever, the energies are very, very strong at Coalmine, both positive and negative. I’ve gone there to pray, to shoot, to grieve, to just sit, and be, for over fifteen years.