Desert Storm

It was looking very ominous but we made it to our destination

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Don’t let a little rain stop you

This is one of my favorite memories of Arches National Park in Utah.  We took that “short” walk to see the famous Delicate Arch on an evening where we were being chased by a storm.  It was one of those, probably won’t get another chance type of moments.  How could we pass up this opportunity?  When I look back, it was a bit of a miracle that we got there at all.

Bad Information and Determination

It all started out with bad information.  I swear that I read somewhere that the hike to Delicate Arch was an easy half-mile walk.  Anybody that has been here can tell you it is a difficult, steep climb of about 1.5 miles (each way).  Joyce was sure it was going to start raining at any moment but I was convinced that we could make it there and back easily.  I kept walking and walking till I got to a narrow curve that looked like it was going nowhere.

I turned back thinking that Joyce had stayed put back down the slope only to find that she wasn’t far behind.  We convinced each other that we had come this far so, may as well keep going.  It was worth the effort to see this most famous spot in the park.

Unfortunately, quite a few others had the same idea and it was pretty crowded by the arch.

RMNP_May 07 2016_1057
Delicate Arch is surrounded by tourists even on stormy evenings

Rewards in spite of it all

In spite of the ugly-looking weather that was trailing us, we got to one of the must-see places in the state of Utah and ended up with a beautiful sunset on the way back down.  Well, that and aching legs!  Still, it was worth the risk and we ended up not getting rained on during our trek.

Sometimes, I guess you just have to go for it and hope for the best.

Daily Prompt: Storm

Dry Mesa Wash at the approach to Delicate Arch
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
62mm at f/5.3 – 1/13 second – ISO 400

#landscape #photography #nature #travel #ArchesNationalPark #clouds #desert #Moab #Utah #NationalPark #NationalParksService #USNPS

Blogging Challenge: For Posterity – National Treasures

Are you aware of what a gift we have in the State and National Parks in this country?

The Blogging Challenge

As an attempt to improve on my blogging skills, I am trying out a series of challenges provided by WordPress University.  The first of these was titled “For Posterity” and the challenge was to present something that you felt was very important to preserve.

In May, my wife and I went for the first time to experience some of our National Parks in Utah and Colorado.  To say that I was amazed would be a huge understatement.  These national treasures are so special that there are literally no words that do this justice.  At the same time, if we don’t speak out about things as important as this, we are failing to do our duty to make people aware of how glorious a gift we have here.

Becoming Aware

Awareness may be the most important thing that I could hope to pass on to posterity.  Not just to my children but to all children of this world.  This is something that seems to be missing in today’s world.  People go through their day’s in a haze.  A million messages flashing before us on screens small and large and every surface we pass by.  And yet, how little we are aware of.

While in the National Parks, I could see how some people were awed by the grandeur and beauty.  At the same time, I saw careless tourists who raced for spot to spot, climbing over delicate natural formations to make silly faces and take selfies.  Some people were aware while others were not.  Some, like me, felt a grateful reverence for everything from the incredible vistas to the tiny wild flowers.  Others, seem to think this was an amusement meant only for their passing fancy.

If we can not be aware and appreciative of that which is around us, the importance of things passes us by.  Life becomes a progression of titillations.  Always looking for the new thrill but never being satisfied.  This is evident in the “entertainment” that we view now.  Each new show must be more spectacular, more shocking, more ludicrous and by doing so, each thing that was previously unacceptable becomes more common.

A challenge for all of us

I had a challenge to discuss something that was important for posterity.  So here it is: a challenge to all of us.  Can we become more aware and more appreciative of the treasures that surround us in nature and in the people who fill our daily lives will we continue to follow the downward spiral of voyeurism that drives today’s world?

Visitor’s Center Overlook
Dead Horse Point State Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm lens
18mm at 1/125 sec – f/16 – ISO400

#DeadHorseStatePark #Utah #MoabUtah #UtahStateParks #canyons #nature #photography #landscape

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves – The long and winding road

Last month, my wife and I went out to see some of our country’s Western National Parks for the first time.  I can’t wait to get back out there again!  Whether it is back to the same parks for a look at all the spots we missed, or to some of the other parks that we’ve never experienced before.

Shafer Canyon Road

The first thing I thought of related to this week’s challenge is the road that leads down through Shafer Canyon (shown above) in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah.  The road descends down through the canyon with twists and hair-pin turns in switch back fashion.  It was amazing to see cars and bicyclist wind their way down this dirt trail with absolutely no railings to prevent you from dropping right off the edge of the cliffs.

This unpaved road runs for 18 miles through the “Island in the Sky” district of Canyonlands through the middle of the park and out to the nearby town of Moab, Utah.

Shafer_Canyon_Panorama3
View of Shafer Canyon Road where making its was out to Moab

Maybe, when we get the chance to return here, I will be brave enough to follow this “Long and Winding Road”.  But, I doubt it – pretty scary looking to me.

Shafer Canyon Road
Island in the Sky District
Canyonlands National Park
near Moab, Utah, USA

Curve

Surprise!

Rainy days generally depress me.  In this case, not so much!  It’s the dark gloomy gray of the rain that gets me down but when the clouds start to clear and the sun peeks out, the light is glorious.  And every once in a while, you get a treat like this – a double rainbow.

I was out here at Panorama Point in Arches National Park just looking at the wildflowers and wishing the clouds would be gone so I had a better view of the La Sal mountains in the distance when I turned to my right and was amazed.  God really knows how to pull you out of a slump.

Well, I couldn’t have planned it better.  Even had a polarizing filter on my lens.  Scenes like this come and go in a flash so, I count myself very luck to have not only seen it but to have been able to capture this with the camera.

Sometimes, things just come together when you least expect it.

 

Life is a journey, not a destination

Why is it that even though we have heard this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote so often, what we always seem to see is only the destination in photographs?  The image above was taken on the trail that leads to Delicate Arch, the most iconic and probably most photographed site in Arches National Park.  Everybody has likely seen that arch if you’ve seen any images of Utah.  But, how often do you see what the trail looks like to get there?

RMNP_May 07 2016_1084

I am trying to learn to always be present to what is right in front of me.  I mean, getting to the destination is often difficult. You need to watch your step and not drop your camera equipment off the side of a cliff or anything but, what are we missing on the way there and the way back?  If I had put my camera away as soon as I got the “special” shot I was going for, would I have even seen the beauty of everything nearby if I hadn’t kept my eyes open?

I think maybe, life is both a journey and a destination.  The destination is where ever you are right now and the journey is everything that has led to this point as well as the path right in front of you.

RMNP_May 07 2016_1094-001

 

I can see for miles and miles

Canyonlands National Park is a vast area which was a source of constant amazement.  Though the depth and breadth of the canyons may not match the Grand Canyon, the vista seems to be endless.  From this site – Grand View Point Overlook, we could look out across the scenery and take in the awesomeness that is this place.

Grand_View_Point_Panorama1-001
Monument Basin from Grand View Point

Immediately below Grand View Point, is Monument Basin.  This spot where the canyon drops another level, looks like a monster alien footprint in the desert landscape .  I wish we had been able to explore that area as it contains beautiful spires that can only be glimpsed from the high overlook.

Well, I had plenty of opportunity to play with doing panoramic shots from this place.  From what you can see here, it should be obvious that even multiple shots put together are not enough to express how vast the scenes are.

I have to get back here and do much more exploring.  We barely touched on this section of the park which is called Island in the Sky.  There are two other sections of the park called The Needles and The Maze which we didn’t even get to.  It really gives you perspective on how small we are in relation to the whole of creation.

The images in this post were created by merging multiple images in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm lens
multiple exposures taken in aperture priority at f/16 and ISO 400

It’s just a little bit further…

I don’t know how many times I heard this phrase when on the way up the trail to see Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.  Honestly, it was Much More than a little bit further!  I guess I mis-read the information on this trail.  I swear it said easy hike, about 1/2 a mile.  Well, it is more like a mile and a half and it’s a steep incline with a few spots where the trail gets very narrow and close to the edge.

I was determined to get up there and see this icon of Utah.  I mean, this thing is on the state license plates.  Unfortunately, this was another one of those days when it was threatening to rain and my very practical wife was questioning the wisdom of hiking out to the middle of nowhere with those dark clouds moving closer and closer.  I pushed on by myself, sure that this natural delight was just around the corner but, as the trail got steeper, I still couldn’t see anything.

RMNP_May 07 2016_1069-PANO-001
This is the view about half-way down the trail – I’m not kidding about steep

I actually turned around at one point where I was sure I either lost the trail or it was just going to take too long.  After walking back down for a few minutes, I saw Joyce walking up to meet me.  We decided we had come this far so, why not keep going and finally made it to our destination.  Of course, there were a bunch of people scattered all over the place and even on this stormy evening, photographers were set up everywhere.

I understand there is an observation point below the arch where you can just drive up and see it from the parking area.  If you’re not up for a substantial hike, you might want to try that.  I can only say that if you go to Arches National Park, make sure you see this.  It is worth the effort.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your eyes open at all times.  While the arch we were going to see is amazing, I think I got my best images on the trail when coming back down.  You might think that a rocky, desert trail is kind of boring but it is really amazing and at sunset on a stormy evening.  Wow!!

RMNP_May 07 2016_1087
Easy walking where the trail levels out and look at that sunset