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Cabezon Peak

I have tried for years to capture Cabezon Peak appropriately. It’s prominent shape stands out among other cinder cones in the Rio Puerco valley east of Mount Taylor and I always feel drawn to its brooding mass. The Navajo’s explain that it is the remains of a giant killed by the gods, its defeated head still rising up from the earth. The spaniards dubbed it Cabezon, meaning ‘big head’ in spanish, but it could also be taken to mean closer to ‘stubborn’.

I have driven past this monolith for years and have seen it just over the horizon on clear days while living and driving around Albuquerque. It seems to cast its own presence; an ominous and moody lump of basalt, almost gazing out from under a heavy brow. Photographically, this rock has mocked me. The dark black basalt seems to soak up all light that touches it, causing the mass to appear ‘tasteless’ when photographed. Most photos I have made appear lifeless and boring, never doing justice to the feel of this monument that has so much life. And then on a particular afternoon, the monsoon clouds build and roil over its head, trailing sheets of rain. For a brief moment, clouds and light align and Cabezon smiles at me.

A giant defeated by gods, or just a big head, I see something hard headed. Stubborn. Lasting. Beautiful.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I love those clouds. That is one of those moments that make all the frustrating pictures that didn’t work worth it. Cabezon is especially hard to capture in color as all the land round about is the same color and the sun is so intense that there is little shadow. The summer storm in this picture is the perfect way to capture the spirit of that unconquerable mountain.

    I know that there are trails to the top and I would love to scale it and see the view from up there but I’ve never been able to find a trail that went all the way up. Seeing it rising from the desert is spectacular, though. The basalt makes a very interesting sound when it cascades down the sides of the mountain when set loose by traversing feet. It sounds almost like shattering glass melded with rolling thunder. It always makes me think of the tinkling cymbals mentioned by Paul.

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