I have some sad news. False Kiva was vandalized recently, enough to cause the NPS to close access to this wonderful place indefinitely. It makes me sad to hear about such things, and it makes me wonder what the future holds for our National Parks.
The photo above was taken in 2011 on a “coming of age” solo trip around the Southwest. I had seen a few photos and knew I had to find it. I researched this spot and found very little information. I remember being a little frustrated not knowing exactly where this spot was on a map, but I spoke to a ranger and asked him about it. I could hear the excitement in his voice as he chose his words carefully, giving me only rough directions. His parting words were, “Make sure you bring lots of water with you.”
I set out alone on my adventure to find False Kiva with a little apprehension about the whole thing. What if I got lost? What if I didn’t bring enough water? What if I fall off a cliff? I figured these were healthy worries and continued on. The path was relatively easy to follow, but I still ended up taking a few wrong turns. When I finally made it I was so relieved. I had made it. I signed the log book left in an ammo can and took in the wondrous view. It was quiet. Peaceful. Beautiful. I cherished the moment of serenity and calmness. I took a few photos as the light slowly changed and left before it got too dark for the walk back to my car.
Now, seven years later, I wonder if my photographing and sharing of this place led to its demise. I have never shared the exact location, but even just sharing the photo could lead others to want to photograph it. Today, a simple Google search will bring up the exact location. I have to chuckle at my frustration in not being able to find it easily. What a naive young woman I was! After all, the journey was half the fun. The lack of information was deliberate. And now, it seems, nothing is holy.
I’ve always wanted my photographs to inspire others to get out and enjoy this beautiful world, but I have to realize that there are consequences. Too many people in delicate natural places is not a good thing. So how do we stop vandalism, littering, and all around abuse of these special places?
I think it starts with each of us. We all have a voice. And I believe our actions speak louder than words. So remember to leave-no-trace. Respect the land. And don’t be afraid to teach others how to treat our wild places. What do you think? How do we protect our most treasured places?