Monday, January 21, 2019

Snow Abstract

Last week I was driving around late at night (as I'm sometimes known to do) when I came across this very interesting scene.  It was just luck that I stopped where I did.  I pulled off the road into a plowed parking area to sit for a few minutes.  I had been looking down at my phone going through the photos and videos I had taken with it that day.  When I looked back up, right away I noticed how my headlights were hitting the snowbank in front of me and making these very cool shadows.  I was mesmerized by the shapes and patterns so of course I had to photograph them!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Below zero moonrise

It's pretty cold out there right now. This afternoon I took a drive up into an area that is being logged and boy was it beautiful up there!  So much snow everywhere and the late afternoon/early evening light was incredible.  As I was driving through one of the logged areas the moon was rising and I was able to frame it through these Aspen trees.  The warm light of the setting sun made for some nice accent light on the trees.  The temperature readout on my Jeep was showing minus 11 degrees outside when I made this photo. The moon is big and bold tonight... and should be even more so tomorrow evening for the eclipse!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Strike Valley Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

The last sunset that I photographed on my southwest trip was easily one of the most beautiful.  I was driving from Escalante to Moab via the backroads and I had planned it out so that I would (hopefully) be at the Strike Valley Overlook in Capitol Reef National Park in time for sunset.  Thankfully, my planning worked out and I was able to get there about 45 minutes before the sun lit up the sky the way you see it here.  

I would have gotten there earlier but I was not fully informed on just how rough the "road" was up the canyon to get to this spot (thankfully I have a Jeep!).  It's really not a road at all, you are basically driving right up the wash to get to the trailhead.  It is a legal route to drive, however, as I was instructed I could do so by the park rangers. From the trailhead it's a relatively short (about a half-mile) hike to get to the Strike Valley Overlook.  The view is tremendous.  Even if the clouds hadn't lit up the way they did I would have been completely satisfied with the view.  But, as you can see, mother nature put on quite a display.  

The elements were really on my side throughout this entire trip.  As with so many other moments, as I sat here watching the sunset show it was so incredibly quiet it felt like I could have heard a pin drop anywhere in the valley.  I am definitely coming back to this location, as there is another hiking route from the same trailhead that I'd like to do.  It's about a 9 to 10 mile loop and I'm told it passes by several arches and other interesting natural features.  I can't wait to return :-)  

Saturday, January 12, 2019

November Sunrise over Lake Powell

I always hope for a few clouds at sunrise and sunset to make photos a little more interesting but sometimes you don't need them at all and the images turn out plenty beautiful.  Of course, it helps to have a massively interesting foreground!  And the view of Lake Powell from Hole in the Rock is definitely interesting.  The vantage point here is several hundred feet above the surface of the water.  I really enjoyed my night spent here.  It was so peaceful and quiet, and I had the area to myself!  Another amazing experience from an unforgettable trip.  

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lake Powell Moonlight at Hole in the Rock

After I left Death Valley I pretty much hightailed it to Utah as the end of my vacation time was kind of sneaking up on me.  I spend one night in the small town of Escalante and enjoyed a delicious pizza from Escalante Outfitters.  The next day I explored Hell's Backbone Road before heading down Hole in the Rock Road.  Hell's Backbone was an amazing drive with pretty high elevation and amazing views.  

I've spent quite a bit of time along Hole in the Rock Road in the past, exploring some of the slot canyon and arch hikes that are in the area.  But I'd never been to the actual "Hole in the Rock" at the end of the road.  There isn't actually a "hole" in the rock, but there is a large slot that was blasted into the cliff by Mormon pioneers, who then lowered their wagons down the slot to cross the Colorado River.  The last 5 miles or so of the road are pretty rough so I was glad to have the Jeep here.  I spent the night at Hole in the Rock, overlooking Lake Powell.  The moonlight that night was amazing, really lighting up the landscape.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Sunset from Aguereberry Point

After my drive through Titus Canyon, the last thing I did before departing Death Valley (and California) was visit Aguereberry Point for sunset.  I had never been up to this high vantage point before so it was a great way to cap off some awesome time spent in Death Valley.  Like most of my time spend in the California desert on this trip, the evening was incredibly quiet and still.  Barely a sound could be heard in any direction.  It was difficult to leave this beautiful place but I take comfort in knowing that I will visit again, sooner rather than later.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Jeep Adventure through the Titus Canyon Narrows

I think the single coolest experience I had that stood out the most on my trip is the drive through the Titus Canyon narrows in Death Valley National Park.  I think everyone that visits Death Valley should take this drive (provided you have a high clearance vehicle, that is).  It is a 27 mile drive over some pretty rough roads but once you get into the narrows the experience is unforgettable.  I had a hard time not stopping to take a photo around every single corner of the canyon.  I would love to do this route again via mountain bike.  Now THAT would be even more fun :-)  

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A picture perfect day in Death Valley!

Some days are just perfect for exploring and this was one of those days.  So many beautiful scenes throughout the day!  

The Racetrack and the Night Sky

This was the coldest night of my trip (it got down into the high teens on this night) and one of the most beautiful.  The stars were amazing but so was the moonlight.  As the moon was setting there was a giant ring around it.  It sure was an amazing view over the Racetrack playa.  I couldn't have asked for a better night at this unique location!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Racetrack

Death Valley National Park is filled with many wonders and mysteries.  One of the most notorious is the infamous "Racetrack" playa, where rocks move across the surface of the playa, leaving tracks in their wake.  For years people speculated that it was high winds that moved the rocks around. But, according to an interpretive sign at the parking area, scientists have now figured out how the rocks move.  

With enough rainfall, the playa becomes a shallow lake.  In winter, cold night temperatures freeze the surface of the lake into a sheet of floating ice, embedding the rocks.  The morning sun causes the ice sheets to break up.  Steady breezes catch the floating ice sheets, pushing them along with their embedded rocks.  Eventually the ice melts and the water evaporates, leaving the rocks in new locations until the next event, perhaps years later, moves them again. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

Erosion Lines - Ubehebe Crater

So many cool things to see in Death Valley!  On my way out to The Racetrack, I made a quick stop at Ubehebe Crater and was blown away by it.  Incredibly fascinating erosion lines and what a great view with the mountains in the background!  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Details in the Dunes

Some interesting detail compositions that I found while wandering through the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park. 

Photographing the Eureka Dunes

After a little hiatus from sunny southwest pictures, I'm back to my trip.  We had a big snowstorm here in northeast Minnesota and I was out taking pictures of all the beautiful snow after the storm.  But I still have photos from my trip I need to go through!  When I left off several days ago, I had just arrived at the Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park.  I got to the dunes about an hour before sunset, spent a little time wandering around the base of the dunes at sunset and dusk then crawled into my sleeping bag early so I could get a good night's sleep and an early start climbing the dunes in the morning.  

I woke about an hour before sunrise and started walking toward the dunes in the dark.  Before long I was making my way uphill.  I quickly realized that this was going to be even more difficult than hiking to the top of the Kelso Dunes in Mojave Preserve.  The reason for that was the dunes were much steeper and the sand was much softer.  It took me longer than I expected to reach the top but it was oh so worth it.  I made photographs along the way up and along the way down.  Just like the Kelso Dunes, I was finding interesting compositions everywhere I looked. And, just like many other locations on this trip, I wanted to spend much more time here.  The lower dunes to the west looked massively interesting but I didn't have enough time to hike over to them.  Something to save for my next trip :-)