Friday, June 20, 2014

Upper Antelope Canyon - Page, AZ

Upper Antelope Canyon sits a couple of miles upstream of it's lower counterpart, and five miles or so southeast of Page, AZ.  You must purchase an advanced reservation in order to tour this canyon...I once again went with the more expensive photography tour, with the primary advantage coming in the form of a guide who will work to keep people out of your pictures.  This canyon is very crowded, especially during midday when light shafts penetrate from the rim of the canyon to the sandy bottom.  I took a couple of decent pictures during the tour, but the overall experience would have been better without the constant jostling with all of the other people jammed into the narrow canyon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gastineau Peak and Mount Roberts - Juneau, AK

After four failed attempts to summit Mount Roberts during the winter, I finally found success during the summer on June 18th.  Won't go over the boring details of ascending up past the tram station and then a broad ridge leading to the Roberts summit plateau.  Instead, the highlight of this experience was the knife edge ridge that was covered in cornices leading up to Gastineau Peak.  The exposure was exhilarating at times, but not frightful.  The only concern I had was breaking through the corniced ridge...I delicately worked my way past these areas without incident.  I was greeted to partially clearing skies as I arrived at the summit...as always the views can't be beat.  I then retraced my steps along the ridge, and then hiked over to the highest point of Mount Roberts.  After doing the knife edge ridge, the summit experience on Roberts was anticlimactic to say the least, given this mountain is pretty featureless with little fear factor.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Lower Antelope Canyon - Page, AZ

I recently had the opportunity to walk through both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon's during late May.  Both canyon's are unique, the lower being slightly less crowded, and displaying more intricate and colorful structures in its sandstone walls.  And unlike the upper canyon, you can pull up to the entrance of the lower canyon and schedule an immediate tour.  I choose the slightly more expensive photographer's tour, the main benefit being that your guide directs traffic inside the canyon, which allows you to take pictures without people walking into your shot.  My Navajo guide was awesome...he worked hard to give me and my fellow tour-mates the best possible pictures, made suggestions on where to position our cameras, and gave friendly conversation during the 2 hours we were together.  All in all a great experience.  If you come to Page, AZ to visit the upper canyon, the experience won't be complete without a visit to the equally beautiful lower canyon.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Buckskin Gulch - Utah

I hiked Buckskin Gulch, located in southern Utah, during late May.  After walking a mile along a dry creek via Wire Pass, I entered narrow sections of slot canyons, with the rim of these canyons becoming progressively taller.  After another mile or so, Wire Pass connected with the main canyon, in what can be described as a large amphitheater like area surrounded by steep sandstone cliffs.  Petroglyphs are located at this junction, most of which depict animals such as deer.  I continued on from this point into a deeper and more narrow section of the canyon, with walls glowing purple and orange from the ambient sunlight striking the rim of the canyon above.  A decision was made to turn around a mile later due to dwindling daylight.  However, I plan to come back and explore the remainder of this long slot canyon that eventually connects up with the Paria River 15 miles from the entrance.

Petroglyphs located at the junction of Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch.
Wire Pass creek bed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

Visited the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which sits on the Arizona/Utah border (park website can be found here).  Instead of taking the circuitous auto tour, I hiked a loop around West Mitten Butte via the Wildcat Trail.  Overcast skies broke during the hike, with vivid blue skies standing out against white cumulus clouds and the orange desert sand and mudstone.  This resulted in excellent light for photography, with most of my pictures displaying a variety of rich colors.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mesa Verde

Made a visit to to the canyon dwellings of Mesa Verde, which were built by the ancient Pueblo people who occupied what is now called southwest Colorado.  The most popular ruins, such as Cliff Palace, are accessed only through park guided tours, so make sure to buy your tickets upon entrance to the park if you want to join one of the hourly caravans.  Otherwise, the less popular structures can be viewed up close by engaging in short self guided hikes.

Cliff Palace with guided tours in progress.
A type of Kiva at Spruce Tree House.
Flowering cactus and humming bird.
Spruce Tree House.