Cynthia Sequanna has spent the last 16 years as a park ranger for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area/ Rainbow Bridge National Monument and during that time has quite thoroughly explored its many hidden canyons and secret pockets.
One of her fondest memories occurred in 1984 when she and a group of friends were exploring a Lake Powell side canyon between Cedar Mountain and Bullfrog Marina when they stumbled upon an Anasazi granary.
“It was so cleverly hidden you couldn’t see it until we were standing on it,” she recalled.
After finding the well-hidden granary, she and her friends examined it from all angles, and even from a few feet away it remained cleverly disguised among its surroundings.
A few years later, she took her first river trip on the Colorado River between the dam and Lee’s Ferry. Anyone who has floated its length can relate to the reverence Sequanna felt that day.
“The river and Glen Canyon totally captured my heart that day,” she said. “The petroglyph panel, the uniqueness of the place and just being on the river.”
It’s experiences like that — what she called “numerous spontaneous spiritual experiences” — that will make it hard for Sequanna to say goodbye to Page and its amazing backyard.
After 33 years in Page and 16 years as a park ranger in the Glen Canyon Recreation area, Sequanna will be moving to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where she’ll continue her work as a park ranger.
Organ Pipe NM is a UNESCO biosphere reserve located south of Why, Ariz. and sits on the Arizona/Mexico border. It’s the northern-most region where organ pipes grow.
Sequanna has spent the last four months in Organ Pipe NM as part of a work detail temporarily filling a vacant position until they could find a permanent employee.
But during her four months there, she fell in love with it and decided to take the position herself.
The monument has numerous features that appeal to her.
“I like the monument’s resources itself,” she said, “its wilderness areas, the diversity of the cactus and the fact that it’s a prime representation of Sonoran desert habitat.
“Even though its botanical life supercedes everything else, it has some pretty impressive volcanic features as well.”
Sequanna said she’ll miss working with her colleagues and the many friends she’s made in Page over the years, but she’s looking forward to the new opportunities and adventures that await her in Organ Pipe.
“This is just a case where life’s a journey, not a destination, and, of course, the people you meet along the trail. My journey continues,” she said.
Sequanna said she never intended to stay in Page as long as she has, but like so many others who have passed this way before her, when she reached her destination something new beckoned from the horizon.
Sequanna played an integral role in many of the park service’s projects and milestones. She headed their temporary boat exhibit at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center a few years ago, and contributed heavily to the content of the new exhibits, themes and designs.
In recent years, Sequanna’s art career has grown considerably as well. She’s best know for her fabric art and mixed media art which feature landscapes and riverscapes inspired by Glen Canyon, the Vermilion Cliffs, Lake Powell and the Colorado River.
She said the four months she spent at Organ Pipe Cactus have already given her a lot of inspiration that’s finding its way into her art.
“I’m inspired artistically by anyplace I go,” she said, “and Organ Pipe Cactus is even better than most. The sunsets and sunrises over Organ Pipes rival the sunsets and sunrises over our Vermilion Cliffs.”
Sequanna grew up on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and said growing up in such a dramatic, awe-inspiring place set her on the course she’s maintained through her life.
“I like the awe I feel in places like Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, Lake Powell,” she said. “The awe never really left me. I like life on the sharp edge of things.”
With that as her bearing, she liked Organ Pipe Cactus NM immediately.
“Everything down there pokes, stings, bites or sticks to the extreme,” she said. “You really have to watch where you stop and bend over.”
Sequanna is looking forward to continuing her career as a park ranger for several more years.
“My career has always been about sharing my knowledge,” she said. “As a park ranger, I have unique opportunities to help park visitors see, think and feel something different and possibly in big, life-changing ways.”
It was while learning about about Charlie Spencer’s mining endeavors the lessons she was learning about the land really started to hit home, she said.
“He was looking for that nugget that would change his life,” she said. “For me the nugget was the landscape. It has changed my life profoundly.
“A lot of people came to this area seeking something, be it treasure, a trail, a route and whatever it was they were seeking and whether they found it or not the true treasure is the landscape. Take care of it.”