I am sitting in my comfy camp chair next to my tent under a tree, in the dark… staying away from the picnic table which seems to be infested by black widows. It is the first time on my trip that I’ve had internet or much of a chance to look at my photos. I am happy with a few of them, but I have found that it is difficult to capture the grandeur of Zion’s cliffs in a way that I am happy with. Here is one i like; it is Isaac Peak, one of the three peaks in the Court of the Patriarchs, shot at sunrise on Tuesday:
Isaac Peak, Zion NP, UT
I have also found:
– Don’t delay about cleaning your sensor (my first 4 days of shots all have the same nasty dust specs on them)
– Polarizers totally kick butt!
– Don’t buy a camera backpack that doesn’t have hip straps (my shoulders are killing me)
– Don’t forget to take your towel with you to the shower (a washcloth is actually quite effective :-P )
Enough of the griping though! Zion, was awesome! I had a great time there and hope to go back again sometime soon. My first afternoon there was on Monday and I hiked the Emerald Pools Trails. It was a short but rewarding hike, with a nice pool at the top. Along the way a friendly fellow named Dave insisted on showing me a huge coiled rattlesnake that his kids had almost stepped on so that I could photograph it :) I won’t post that shot here since it was tough to get a good angle and still feel some semblance of safety, but here is a serene little spot I found just off the beaten path:
Upper Emerald Pool Trail, Zion NP, UT
There are some beautiful spots in Zion and some amazing vistas if you are willing to climb, but my favorite part of my stay there was hiking up through the Narrows yesterday. The Narrows is the upper part of Zion Canyon where the 1000+ foot walls are close together (anywhere from 20 to 100 feet) and you have to hike up through the riverbed. Luckily for me the water flow was low this year and the weather was such that the danger of killer flash floods was low. Here is a shot from a narrow section of the Narrows:
Narrows, Zion NP, UT
Some of the narrows opens up a bit more to let in the sun, and I was able to stop and swim in some of the swimming holes, which delighted me to no end… I sooo miss freshwater swimming. All in all, I hiked about 12 miles round-trip including a detour up Orderville Canyon to to the Veiled Falls. It took about 9 hours, but I had to book out of there in the end to return my rented neoprene socks and water shoes in time. I did this trip yesterday, and needless to say I was pretty beat afterwards, especially since on the previous day I had done a somewhat strenuous hike about 1000 feet up into the eastern side of the canyon to see Hidden Canyon and Echo Canyon. Since I wasn’t up for another hike today, I slept in and then packed up camp and began the ~5 hour drive over to Monument Valley, UT, which is where I am now.
I arrived Monument Valley at around 4 o’clock and checked into my campsite, sorted through photos for a little while, then went to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, paid my $5, and drove the 17 mile round-trip dirt road through their buttes and mesas. It was cool, but I actually expect that I may find the best photo opportunities outside of that park. Here is a sunset shot of Eagle Mesa and The Setting Hen (the pointing butte on the back right) taken from the side of Highway 163:
Eagle Mesa and The Setting Hen, Monument Valley, UT
Tomorrow I’ll be leaving Monument Valley, heading through Mexican Hat, UT (where The Valley of the Gods, a smaller version of Monument Valley is) and on up to Arches National Park. After fighting the heat there for a few more days, I’ll make my way northward to the cooler climate of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Till next time…