36 Views of San Francisco Mountain
From 1830 - 1832 Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai created a series of landscape prints titled: 36 views of Mt. Fuji. The most well-known image of the series, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, has been featured prominently in modern art and culture. The series of block prints was eventually followed up by another work, One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. The pieces range from landscapes focused on the mountain to cultural scenes containing the mountain as a smaller background element. The works demonstrate the importance of the mountain to daily life in Japan. The French artist Henri Rivière, inspired by Hokusai created a set of color lithographs entitled Thirty-six views of Tour Eiffel.
When I arrived in Arizona in 2014, the first thing I noticed was the mountain. The San Francisco Peaks dominate the skyline of Flagstaff, Arizona. The San Francisco Peaks (Humphreys, Agassiz, Aubineau, Reese, and Doyle) are the highest peaks in Arizona, all with elevations over 11,400 feet, the highest, Humphreys reaches12,633 ft into the clouds. The Peaks are the remnants of a much larger stratovolcano known as San Francisco Mountain which collapsed sometime between 400,000 and 96,000 years ago.
San Francisco Mountain
Before the collapse the elevation of San Francisco Mountain is estimated to be somewhere between 14,000 and 16,000 ft. [image from https://www.snowbowl.ski/san-francisco-peaks-geology/]
The Peaks play a central role in daily life in Flagstaff, home to the Kachina Peaks Wilderness within the Coconino National Forest. Glades of aspen along the flanks and along the inner basin host hikers and mountain bikers. Arizona Snowbowl is located on the western side of the mountain below Agassiz peak, it has become a winter playground for many in the region. People come to the mountain for recreation and relaxation. However, these peaks have long been important to the indigenous peoples of the region. The San Francisco Peaks have considerable religious significance for at least 13 tribes in the area. They have come to be known by many names, here a just a few:
Dook'o'oosłííd - (Navajo) - “The summit which never melts”
Nuva'tukya'ovi - (Hopi) - “Place-of_snow-on-the-very-top”
Dził Tso- (Apache)
Tsii Bina- (Acoma)
Nuvaxatuh - (San Juan Southern Paiute)
Hvehasahpatch - (Havasupai)
Wik’hanbaja - (Hualapai)
Sunha K’hybachu Yalanne - (Zuni)
‘Amat ‘likwe Nyava - (Mojave)
Sierra sin Agua - (Spanish) - “mountain range without water”
The Peaks (Anglo Arizonans)
In the summer clouds gather and grow from the summits of The Peaks, and thunderstorms follow. As such, the peaks are seen as the source of water in an otherwise parched landscape. For the Hopi, The Peaks are home to the Kachina Spirits, ancestors who have become clouds after their death. The mountains are considered a sacred space, and play a central role in many rituals. Recreation on The Peaks, and especially snow making using reclaimed water, has been a controversial issue, as many believe it disrespects the purity of this place.
In 2015, a friend suggested that I make a collection of the images I’ve taken of The Peaks in the four years that I have lived in their shadow. The Peaks have come to play a very central role in my own life, and I hope these images can show some of the moods the mountains take, and convey their significance to the people and culture of Northern Arizona. Below you will find some of my favorites. Eventually, I would like to collect these images, and storied about The Peaks into a book. If you have a story to share please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to share any images of The Peaks, please tag them with #36viewsofsanfranciscomountain.
A five image panorama of the 2019 Museum Fire burning over Mt. Elden