Red Rock Sprint to Yosemite

First hike after Art's was up San Jacinto, first by way of one of the world's longest tram rides and then by foot. We were shooting for the peak but ran out of time.

After Art’s in Palm Springs we climbed San Jacinto, first by way of one of the world’s longest tram rides and then by foot. We were shooting for the peak but even with long days we ran out of time.

What to do between visiting Art in Palm Springs and climbing Half Dome in Yosemite?
Why not sprint through a stretch of Red Rock Country? Book ends to the sprint could include epic hikes. And why not? This was trip with my road-ravaging, outdoor-trekking, college-bound super daughter Kelsey! Continue reading

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railway tried to cross the Rockies by way of the Gunnison River but found the Black Canyon impassible. Still, it did arrive at the canyon's mouth at Cimarron.

Great Hike: Gunnison Trail (caveat: this is only for experienced hikers) 

Nature created conditions where a powerful river cut a deep and narrow slice out of a hard granite terrain. The result is a canyon whose walls are very steep and access to the river below is very difficult. One consequence for visitors wanting to hike in the park is that there are few trails of any length. Almost all the trails are short and lead to overlook points along the rim road. One of the few exceptions is the Gunnison Trail which descends 1,800 feet in just one mile. Along this trail you actually hike from the rim to the Gunnison River’s shore. There was little doubt that this would be my pick!

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Yosemite NP

Mono Lake

As you exit Yosemite in the east, you arrive at Mono Lake. While drab on the surface, its waters support migratory birds with brine shrimp and fly populations galore.

Great Hike: Four-Mile Up and Panorama+Mist Down

Twice in the past few years I’ve visited Yosemite Valley. Once it was a cold and slushy mess after a snow storm and once it was a flooded and rockslide-ridden jumble after a rain storm. Adding insult to injury, last time I even got a flat tire! Imagine how exited I was then to learn I would be in Yosemite for three days with crisp air, cool temps, and hardly a cloud in the sky! I was ready to enjoyed this park!

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A Green Green Desert

A Green Green Desert

Weather was almost perfect. After a rain the desert is greener and with little dust. However, it was partly cloudy which is always a challenge for a photographer as I spend much of my time “chasing the sun”.

A green desert? Yes. This part of the Sonoran desert has two rainy seasons and the result is a predictable green. And as my visit came after recent rains at the dawn of Spring, the desert was an especially radiant shade of green. Miniature flowers were in bloom across the desert floor, cacti of different types were baring blossoms, and a floral scent was in the air. In general, Organ Pipes Cactus National Monument was showing at its best!

A Green Green Desert

Blooms in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

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Deeply Impressive Zion

Zion Canyon

I had ambitions of riding my bike up and down the six-mile length of the canyon. The day was perfect for it but the timing wasn’t. The flat tire had thrown a kink in to my day’s schedule.

I awoke to a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Bryce Canyon to my east and Zion Canyon to my west, I was smack dab in the middle of nowhere with no repair services for tens of miles. No matter! As a road warrior I’ve become adept at changing tires and getting repairs. This time was no exception but tire repair would have to wait because Zion Canyon National Park was calling. Continue reading

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Southern Utah Rocks

Southern Utah Rocks

You drive across it but unless you make the point to step out and look at it, you don’t properly appreciate its beauty. This bridge crosses Cataract Canyon over the Colorado River near Hite.

The title of this post is adapted from my favorite National Parks T-shirt. The pun is obvious; this is the world’s mecca of red rock landscapes. The circuit of the entire set of red rock parks in this region is known as the Grand Circle. Continue reading

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Condo City of Mesa Verde

Condo City of Mesa Verde

Rock houses held together using mud mortar were built into the overhangs of cliffs. The dwellings have therefore been protected from the elements for centuries and are in great shape. Quite a site of awe!

Via the southwest corner of Colorado I was driving from New Mexico to Utah. “Mesa Verde National Park” the sign read as I drove by. Everyone I’d spoken to about Puebloan society had mentioned this place as one of two pinnacles of their civilization, Chaco being the other. “Hundreds of cliff dwellings” I had been told. “Oh to heck with my schedule,” I thought and started the long drive into the park. Continue reading

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Where Did the Puebloans Go?

Puebloans Go

I visited Los Alamos to see what there was beyond the National Laboratory. There wasn’t much except a lovely and modern little town. What they had which was special was elevation with a view!

The first ruins I visited were inhabited from 900 to 1300 after which the populations “disappeared”. Today I visited ruins which were deserted in the period from 1500 to 1700 but whose populations just relocated. They had depleted the resources needed to live and needed to move to a new situation. Their decedents in these cases still live in the area hundreds of years later. Continue reading

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Through Hopi and Navajo Nations

Hopi and Navajo

Window Rock is a sacred rock formation, is the name of a town, and is the capitol of the Navajo Nation. That’s quite a few achievements for a big hole in a wall of rock, don’t you think?

If living with great vistas causes your heart to swell then I envy the Hopi and Navajo who live atop mesas. These elevated plateaus provide a perch hundreds of feet above the canyons and valleys. As I drove across their nations, I climbed and crossed three distinct mesas and could see forever into the distance. The people who live on these raised setting enjoy stunning views. However, from what I saw, their living conditions are poor. Here are examples of what I saw:  Continue reading

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Magic Landscapes of Four Corners

Four Corners

Mexican Hat was one spectacle among many. That I was here during winter proved a real advantage for shooting. I could stop anywhere to take pictures, rarely was there any traffic.

Driving through the Four Corners district includes meandering among  the red rock regions that Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado share in common. Striking landscapes! The pictures here were taken at Shiprock, Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, Agathla Peak, Mexican Hat and others sites.

Magic Landscapes

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