Monday, November 26, 2012


Satellite Flare
  I let the dog out the other night to find a clear sky with bright twinkling stars and quickly set up one of my cameras to photograph.  In the pre dawn morning, a large satellite caught the glare of the sun and reflected it back down to Earth as it flew by.  Satellite flares are quite common, especially after dusk and before dawn as the Sun's rays are low but have yet to brighten the atmosphere below.  The largest flares come from the orbiting International Space Station.  I looked at the timing tables, and this is not the ISS, but it definitely is a large satellite.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

05 - Zion at Night

  I was really excited to get in a good daytime project, but that didn't mean holding back on my night shots.  I always love when I can simply set up the camera outside the tent in a scenic spot, and the Watchmen Campground at Zion did not disappoint.
The Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, UT
Zion National Park, UT
  I was also able to run a few extended 15 minute exposures which I really enjoy.
A Beautiful Parking Lot

Thursday, November 8, 2012

04 - Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing.  Thank you iPhone panorama. 
  After the first day spent rappelling in to the slot canyon of the Subway, we chose a vertical climb for our second day.  Angel's Landing is one of the most famous trails in Zion, consisting of a narrow path full of switchbacks, steps carved out of solid rock with sheer vertical cliffs on both sides, and an ending upon a monolithic landing 1,500 feet above the canyon floor.
The Trail to West Ridge and the real beginning of Angel's Landing
  We started around noon riding the shuttle in to Zion Canyon and disembarking at the Grotto Trailhead.  The West Ridge Trail led up switchbacks carved in to the rock and paved smooth with the feel of an attraction line at Disney World.  I absolutely loved this hike, but I kept imagining the stunning views were simply green screens and computer animation instead of the resultant wear and tear of wind and water over millions of years. 

The trail along the ridge narrows as you approach the final ascent to Angel's Landing
Sheer drops on both sides of the trail.  If you're afraid of heights, don't look down here.
  Following a narrow ridge to the base of the monolith, the trail thinned to an arm-span while the canyon floor remained hundreds of feet below, unable to hide in periphery.
The views down Zion Canyon were stunning.

  The final ascent consisted of steep layered rocks with steps hand chiseled by park employees during the Great Depression. 
Workers carved steps in to the sheer rock.  They also added a lot of chain.
Enjoying a sit at the top.  A homeless looking man was even having a sleep...
All four hikers successfully at the top!
  Finally at the summit, we enjoyed the magnificent three hundred and sixty degree views up and down canyon.
The view back down the ridge and toward the next day's hike deep in the Narrows. 
  Descending back down the ridge and switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles, we found ourselves on the shuttle once more as dusk set upon the canyon.  A stop at the Zion Lodge for bison burgers was the perfect end to the day and avoided yet another night cooking at the campsite under headlamps.  Thankfully the check for dinner was well under the Disney price the setting suggested.  I guess that's the savings they can pass on when you avoid Orlando as the starting point for building a magical setting.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

03 - In to the Subway

Dropping in to a narrow section
  Once we descended to the canyon floor, we put on our wetsuits and packed dry bags.  The canyon narrowed with several sections of wading, swimming, and rappelling.  It was a gorgeous hike and an amazing experience.
The upper Subway
  Eventually we descended from the canyon in to the upper Subway where water has carved the rock in to a wide tunnel.

  Arriving at the final waterfall, we rappelled down to the Subway proper and found photographers hard at work at the end of the line for hikers doing the route bottom-up.  

  The Subway itself was gorgeous and we spent almost an hour photographing, eating lunch, and changing out of wetsuits.
The Subway - Zion
Exit the Subway Tunnel
  Exiting the Subway, we hiked for another couple of hours out of the canyon and in to the warmth of sunlight.  All in all it was a full day hiking from sunrise to sunset.  Well worth it.
In to the sunlight

Thursday, November 1, 2012

02 - The Subway Trail

  We arrived at Zion and grabbed a permit for the Subway Trail top-to-bottom.  The next morning we headed out to Kolob Canyon, parked one car at the exit before heading to the trailhead and began the full day trek.  
  We began the day in beautiful morning sunshine as we hiked further in to the park.
   Soon we began descending on slick-rock down in to the canyon area.

Slick-rock on the Subway Trail - Zion National Park
Slick-rock on the Subway Trail 
   Finally we came to the entrance to the canyon.  We descended a steep set of rocky drops down to the canyon floor.

  From here we put on our wetsuits and climbing harnesses and descended in to the slot canyon...