Monday, May 15, 2017

Reflection Canyon

A final trip before my son joins the Air Force.

     It has been too long since I have really spent any time in the back country! I rediscovered another blogger that I admire and her recent post about Reflection Canyon. That post can be found here: After seeing her post, I had to go shoot it! I have been exploring portrait photography for long enough now that my soul ached to capture something epic!

     I had planned on going alone, a few weeks earlier, however my son decided he wanted to go. We made our plan to leave on a Friday, however a work emergency changed that, so Saturday was our next option. The planned Saturday arrived and of course we left later than desired and began the very long drive to Escalante Utah. Escalante isn't on the way to anywhere, it's a place you have to want to go to. You'll spend at least have the time on a two lane highway. 

     Once we made it to Escalante, we loaded up on a few snacks and headed farther south down Hole in the rock road. This is the infamous, brutally wash boarded in some areas, road that takes forever to drive. It was eight pm when we finally reached the trail head. Too dark to hike an unfamiliar desert at night with just head lamps you say? You're absolutely right, I highly discourage any sane and pain hating person from hiking anywhere in the dark. However, pain is my constant companion as of late and as my wife can attest, sanity is something I have in short supply!

     We slung our packs, donned our head lamps and located the trail to began the trek. There is a trail and we lost it quite a few times, but not for long. I do not recommend wearing shorts on this trail due to the sage brush and cacti that dominate the landscape. It seamed the sage brush did not want us there and took their best shots to punish us if we walked by too close. I ended up with quite a few nasty scratches over the eight miles. Despite the drawn blood and the occasional rock trying its best to trip us, we made it to the canyon. It was about two am when the tent was set up and I was out immediately the moment I entered my bag. I never take an alarm clock because no matter how much high tech, ultra gear I by, i never sleep well in the back country, so an alarm clock isn't needed. I did, however manage a solid three and a half hours that night. I awoke at about five forty five and went looking for my shot. I love all of the other photographs I have seen of this place, but I needed my version and after about a half hour of walking around I settled on a spot. I took about thirty shots total trying to mange the look in camera, because over the few years I have been shooting, I have discovered that in order to get an epic processed photo. It has to be perfect in camera!

     Here is the final imaged and just as the sun crested the far ridge. This is why I punish my body, so when I'm old and feeble, I'll have thousands of memories to look back on!

      Sheer awe is how I felt at the moment I took this photo! The brilliant colors in the rock, along with the yellow light rising from the east, warmed my soul! The air had a slight, pleasant chill as I sat and waited for the sun to make itself known. It had been a warm night and despite the scratches and dried blood on my legs, I was really glad we hiked in late that night. I wasn't looking forward to the sun beating down on us the eight miles out.

     Once the sun rose, I took a few additional shots, just to play around with some lens flares! Hollywood seems to be all about them as of late!

     At this point, the sun was generously putting out the heat and I needed coffee! So back to camp I ambled. I made coffee and we packed up camp so we could start our long journey back to the truck.

     My son, most likely thinking he was crazy for wanting to tag along with his insane father!

     After a few miles of hard sand stone, we were back to the soft sandy trail, the scenery is quite different in the daytime and thankfully the wind kept us cool. The wind stayed at our back nearly the whole way. At about the half way point, utter exhaustion began to creep its way over me and short of one beautiful flower, my camera stayed put away!

     It took a little over four hours to hike the eight miles and I was feeling the extra 12 lbs of camera gear and serious amounts of water necessary to hike in this heat. We made it back with a couple liters left over. My recommendation in to go in April or the fall for the best experience, unless of course you have pack mules to carry the water needed!

     Now, go have an adventure!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

North fork of the Provo river

A goal finally completed.

     The Crystal lake trail head in the Unitas is one of my favorite places in Utah, it's very challenging finding a place to park. It would be great if the forest service would quit allowing the Washington lake campground from making the trail head parking area, its overflow parking. Luckily, my son, Coltin and I, planned are little excursion on a Sunday, so the trail head was only around ninety percent full. My son tends to have to work on Saturday so we just planned to-day hike, no real plan, just exploring an area I have always want to check out. We both drove so we could just make it a trough hike and so we could cover the twelve miles and do it all down hill! Little did I know that the upper section of the trail is seldom used and the trail peters out in several places, so we ended up doing a little bushwhacking to get back on track. The toughest part of this trail--passing up the waterfalls and not taking in all the beauty!

     Below is the second group of falls, the first I plan on saving until next year, when the water level is higher and the water flows will be greater. So you're going to have to settle for this one, not that it's a bad one!

     The third falls had two small drops and with the surrounding colors, makes up for the lack of size.

     The sporadic trail, meandered trough downed trees, saturated marshes, and heavy timber. We followed the river as it continued to cut its way though the land, leaving many gorges in its wake. I pride myself of my ability to throw around cheesy puns, so it was nice to see that it had rubbed off on my son. It was a proud moment for me as we traversed one of the many gorges, and he proclaimed one of the deeper ones, it a "gorgeous gorge"!

     I nearly missed this one, if I hadn't looked behind me at the river at the exact moment I did, I would have completely missed this gem, I can only imagine how many I missed on the sections the trail moved away from the river.

      This is definitely my favorite fall along the trail, and certainly the tallest one we came across.

     This beauty, was found while trying to find the trail once again, it is also the first place we both slipped into the river, trying to rock hop. Despite the wet feet, this falls made up for it!

     Shortly after the last falls, after finding the trail once again, the trail abandoned the river and just pierced it way through the remaining forest and descended around two thousand feet. At this point we started running into cattle grazing near and sometimes right on the trail, Most had calves with them, so we carefully negotiated the massive females eyeballing us as we passed by their young ones. 

     This little one, surprised and concerned me because we couldn't see it's mother! Not a great picture, it was well past sunset and I had to really crank up the ISO to take it. How often do you get to see moose calf in the wild?

     Darkness fell quickly after sunset and even with the waxing moon, I managed to stub my toes on nearly rock along the trail. We ran into the a road and made it to the truck a little before ten and drove home. What a great, very long trail to explore--it was worth the sore feet and toes. Now I just have to decide if I want to try it again next year as soon as I can get up there and capture those falls along with more of the ones I missed when the water flows are higher.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A tale of dirty slots, busted knuckles, and personal redemption! Part III

Part III

     We left spooky and hiked back to the trucks; dreams of a greasy burgers sizzling in our minds. At this point we had surpassed the twelve mile mark on foot and we were definitely ready for anything that wasn't dehydrated. The only obstetrical that remained was the waiting mileage on the muddy, washboard road back to Escalante. After procuring our burgers, we headed over to the Escalante Petrified forest state park to camp and take a well deserved shower. The next morning, we packed up camp and had breakfast in town, before heading to calf creek falls trail head. 

     Gateway to Calf Creek

     The entire trip, Coltin attempted to scare me, the best he did was startle me once or twice.

          Desert Beauty

     Shannon, Coltin and Chris at went swing and that water couldn't og been more than 40 degrees!

     Six miles later, we made it back to the trucks and headed to Ceder City and tomorrow Kanarraville Falls. On the way we stopped by Bryce canyon for some photos.


     The final mountain range we crossed, was covered in snow and it obviously wasn't aware spring had already sprung. We got into Ceder City just before eight P.M. and settled into our hotel. The rain was still coming down and all of our gear was still soaked from last night's heavy rain. We were so glad we climbed out of Coyote when we did. That much rain makes slick rock even more so! The next morning, we grabbed out free hotel breakfast and headed south to Kanarraville. Jeremy and I were the only ones to ever visit the falls, so the rest of our groups was excited to see it. It is only a little less than two miles to the lower falls, so this last hike brought our total miles to over twenty for the trip.

     Muddy road and trail.

     One of the many, run off chilled crossings, necessary to reach the falls.

     At the canyon opening, its time to forget being dry.

     It was about eleven when we made it to the falls and the water level, mud, and light made any photography a serious challenge. Early spring or after the run off is the best time if you want pictures.
     Here is a hand held 1.3 second exposure, not back considering I made the boneheaded move of leaving my tripod back at the truck.

     Here is a better shot, from earlier in the year.

     We all headed for home after making it back to the truck. Utah has such deserve weather and landscapes, so finding something to do all year long isn't difficult.