tseghiizi

The Navajo word for a rock fissure, seen from above, is tseghiizi. The English near-equivalent is slot, or slit, canyon. You can easily touch both sidewalls when passing through a tseghiizi, and you might be able to see only a few feet ahead or behind you—it’s like walking in the belly of a snake. Antelope Canyon, near Page, Arizona, is a tseghiizi well known for a translucent light that causes sections of its walls to take on the appearance of draped silk or satin. The tortuous passage of a tseghiizi has sometimes been the site of a flash flood fatal to hikers—neither handholds nor shelves are available to those who suddenly need to get to higher ground. The tseghiizi’s narrows are seductive, suggestive of secrets. To those who seek the close intimacy of these places, the land’s interior is revealed.

Terry Tempest Williams