Monitor and Merrimac

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This photo is of the Monitor and Merrimac Buttes.  I took this photo late in the day after our visit to the Island in the Sky.  There are several viewpoints for these buttes along Utah 313, the road leading to the Island in the Sky.

Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

posted in: AZ Buettners, Hiking, Photos | 1

On the Friday during our week long stay in Moab during June of 2012, we got up really early in the morning and visited the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. We visited three areas of the park that day, the Grand Viewpoint, the Green River Overlook, and Upheaval Dome.

Grand Viewpoint

One of the first things you see when you look over the railing at the end of the sidewalk leading from the parking lot is Monument Basin:

This photo was taken just shortly after sunrise.  The whitish areas at the edge of that plateau is the White Rim.  There is a road, a hundred miles long, that follows the white rim, going completely around the Island in the Sky.  Mountain Bikers can ride the White Rim and those with suitable vehicles can drive it.  Below is a closer view of part of Monument Basin, showing the road.  I really like the way the early morning sun lights up the edges of the basin.  If you can, take a look at an enlarged version of this photo on a high resolution monitor.  It is really quite stunning.

There is a hiking path, the Grand Viewpoint Overlook Trail, that starts at the Grand Viewpoint.  I got this photo of a tree casting a shadow on the rock behind while walking along this path:

I took this photo near the end of the Grand Viewpoint Overlook Trail.  Candlestick tower can be seen at the right in this photo.

Here is a better view of Candlestick Tower, as seen from the Grand Viewpoint Overlook Trail:

Upon leaving the Grand Viewpoint, we drove a short distance to another view area.  I got a photo of Marilyn using her tripod and Marie sitting down an what looks to be a comfortable step, enjoying the view.

This next photo provides a more expansive view of Marie’s perch!

Green River Overlook

After hiking the Grand Viewpoint Overlook Trail, enjoying the views, and taking lots of photos, our next stop was the Green River Overlook.  Below, Marie stands at one of the fenced viewing areas.

This photo, below, is a view of Soda Springs Basin.  Ekker Butte can be see in the center of the photo just below the horizon.  Turks Head is the much shorter butte next to the Green River at the far right in this photo.

Here is a view of Candlestick Tower taken from near the Green River Overlook:

Another, closer, view of Candlestick Tower:

 Below is an even better view of Turks Head with the Green River snaking around it.

A closer view of Ekker Butte:

Upheaval Dome

Our last stop for the day was Upheaval Dome.  There is a short, but steep trail – many of the trails in the Moab area are steep – which leads from the parking area to an overlook where Upheaval Dome can be viewed:

Here, Marie watches a lizard at the overlook area.

There is another trail which leads from the main overlook to an alternate view area.  This is a very fun trail to hike – it’d be worth hiking it even if there wasn’t another viewpoint of Upheaval Dome at the end.  There is lots of going up and down slickrock involved.  The park has cut steps for going up and down the slickrock in some areas, but they’re not really needed.  Here’s a view of a small part of the trail.

Here is the view of Upheaval Dome from near the alternate viewpoint.  The view is actually better if you walk a short ways down from the fenced in area to the edge.

Another view of Upheaval Dome, looking down more into the crater.  One of the theories regarding its formation is that it may have caused by a meteor impact.  The other theory is that a dome of salt pushed it up from underneath.  Signs at the main overlook discuss and illustrate these two theories.

Porcupine Rim Trail / Kokopelli Trail / Castle Valley

posted in: AZ Buettners, Hiking, Photos, Snakes | 0

On Saturday, the last full day of our stay in Moab, we headed out to the Sand Flats Recreation Area.  We started out hiking Fins & Things, a 4×4 jeep trail.  Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn along the way and we ended up taking a tour of the various campsites through which Fins & Things passes on its way back to the main road.  It was very disappointing.  I did, however, get this photo of a cool looking snake:

Once back at our truck after our unsuccessful attempt at hiking Fins & Things, we drove down the road to the trailhead for the Porcupine Rim Trail.  We all started hiking it, but Marilyn and Marie decided to wait for me, resting under this broad tree:

Seeing more than a glimpse of the canyon below was difficult due to all of foliage growing on the side of the trail.  But, every now and then, a small clearing appeared from which I could take a photo.  This is one of the better ones.

 I came to a point where the trail split.  I followed the path that would lead me to higher ground, thinking that the views would be better.  The path I chose ended up taking me to the Kokopelli Trail.  The small section of the Kokopelli Trail that I saw was navigable by passenger car, whereas the Porcupine Rim Trail definitely was not.  There were indeed some interesting views from that vantage point.

Here is another view from the Kokopelli Trail.  You can see some of the Trail (road) itself in this photo.

I turned around and started retracing my steps down the Porcupine Rim Trail.  As I was coming back, I got a call from Marilyn who informed me that I would soon be seeing racers running the Desert R.A.T.S. (Race Across The Sand) race.  This is a seven day event in which racers run/walk the 148-mile long Kokopelli Trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah.  Distances covered each day range from between nine and fifty miles.   Here is a photo of the front runners:

I saw perhaps a dozen other racers on the way back down.  When I got back to the trailhead, an aid / support station for the race had been set up and there were several more vehicles at the trailhead.  It seems likely that some of the passenger cars that I saw driving down the Kokopelli Trail earlier in the day were support vehicles for the race.

Later in the day, after food and a siesta, and well after that final stage of the race had been concluded, Marilyn and I drove the truck back up the Kokopelli Trail to the Castle Valley Overlook.  It turns out that, had I continued hiking up the Porcupine Rim Trail earlier in the day, I would’ve eventually ended up at the overlook.

Three mountain bikers, emerging from their ride up the Porcupine Rim Trail, got to the overlook slightly ahead of us.  One of them climbed a rock for a better view:

The view of Castle Valley, just before sunset, was spectacular.

Friday Fitness Hike in McDowell Mountain Park

posted in: Hiking, Photos | 0

We had a small group for our hike this morning, just Bob, Linda, and myself.  Starting at the Wagner Trailhead, we hiked Wagner to Granite and then turned right on Granite.  We took Granite to the new trail, which I’ve been calling the Granite Tank Trail because it terminates at Granite Tank.  Anyway, we took it all the way up to the Granite Tank just off the Pemberton.  We then took Pemberton over to Bluff and Bluff back to Granite, then back to Wagner, and back to the trailhead.

Total distance was 9.7 miles.  We hiked it in two hours and thirty-seven minutes, stopping for only nine seconds along the way.  Bob had gotten a piece of buckhorn cholla stuck in his calf and he needed those nine seconds to pull it out.

I didn’t take any photos during the hike, but I did snap a few shots at around sunrise just before the hike started.  I tried metering off the blue sky as discussed in Bryan Peterson’s book Understanding Exposure.  I don’t think the camera locks the exposure, however, when pressing the shutter release button halfway in.  If it did, I would expect area of sky above the clouds to look blue.  I’ll have to experiment with it on my NEX-7, which I understand how to use better, and see what happens.  Even so, the results weren’t completely horrible…

Tiger and Freckles

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Windows Area, Arches National Park

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On Tuesday of our week in Moab, we visited Arches National Park in the late afternoon.  We visited Park Avenue first and then drove to the Windows Area where we stayed until somewhat after sunset.

We stopped at a pullout just before getting to the Windows Area, where I took this photo of Turret Arch with the La Sals in the background:

Here is a view of the North and South Window, together known as The Spectacles as viewed from atop a rock just off the trail leading over to Turret Arch.

A view of Turret Arch from on or near that same rock that I got the photo above:

Shortly after climbing down off the rock from where I took these photos, I was walking around the rock when I noticed that it had four people on it.  I quickly took the photo, below.  This is perhaps my favorite photo from this visit to the area.

I took this photo from near the South Window:

As the sun got lower in the sky, I took another photo of Turret Arch.  I like the way that the smaller hole on the left glows like an eye of a Jack-O-Lantern.

The North Window, just before sunset:

Sunset, or perhaps slightly after:



The Portal Overlook Trail

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On our second full day in Moab in 2012, I hiked the Portal Overlook Trail while Marilyn and Marie went rafting.  Back when I had first started mountain biking, I had read about the Portal Trail in Lee Bridger’s book, Mountain Biking Moab.  It sounded like a truly harrowing ride, one that I would never do.  This year, while thumbing through one of the many books we have on the Moab area, I came across the Portal Trail again, but it was described as a hike and not a ride.  Ah, that I can do!

The Portal Overlook Trail starts in JayCee Park off of Utah 279.  Even if you have no interest in hiking the Portal Overlook Trail, it’s well worth it to drive Utah 279.  The road snakes along one bank of the Colorado River and is very scenic.  There is native American rock art on portions of the wall to the right as you drive out on Utah 279 from US 191.  And just before coming to the petroglyphs is “Wall Street”, a climbing area just off the road.  You can literally park, walk a few feet, and start climbing.

But, on the morning that I hiked the Portal Overlook Trail, I didn’t see any of that because JayCee park is encountered before you get to “Wall Street” or the rock art.  I’m not including photos here of the early part of the hike.  It started off kind of flat and I hiked through trees for a time.  Then I came to slickrock and it got steep, steep enough at times for me to welcome the excuse to stop and take a few photos.

When I got to the overlook section, I noticed that I could see Arches National Park from the trail.   I had the lens fully zoomed – at 200mm – for this photo, plus I cropped it a lot on my computer, providing for a sort of digital zoom too:

Anyway, that’s balanced rock – and other nearby rock formations – in the photo above.  I took a lot of photos of that skyline, but they all had that kind of bluish cast, perhaps from haze, or perhaps from just being too far away.

I continued hiking up the trail and ended up on top of Poison Spider Mesa.  Here is a view of and from the mesa:

I hiked some of the four-wheel drive trail on top of the mesa.  It was tempting to go further, but I reminded myself that I still had to return.  Plus, I got myself a little bit lost on all of the slickrock out there.  It’s easy to do.

Once I made it back to the edge of the mesa, I found the Portal Overlook Trail again.   Not too far down, I saw this sign:

Here is a view of the trail only a short ways beyond:

And, after some more hiking, I saw this sign.  It’s easily readable if you click on the photo and make it bigger.  It says, “Warning! Three Bicyclists have died here.  Dismount Now and walk.”

Here is a wider angle view putting it into context:

A view of what looks like the tricky bit:

Yet another view.  On the way up, I hiked over that rock near the top right in the picture.  On the way back down, I actually walked on the path just left of the rock.  I imagine it’s quite exhilarating for the cyclists who actually ride it.  The road seen far below is Utah 279, with the Colorado River next to it.  The water was very low this year.  The girls mentioned that this was the case after they finished their rafting trip too.

A view looking back up the trail.  One of the things that I noticed on the way up was that it was sometimes difficult to see where the trail went, looking only twenty or thirty yards ahead.  But, even so, once you went just a bit further, the path was obvious and easy to follow.

A view of the trail with perhaps a little under a mile left until I’m back at my truck.  Again, you can see the road, Utah 279, and the river just next to it.

Devil’s Garden, through the Lens of Marie’s Camera

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Mom and Dad:

I thought this photo below would make a nice shot. First of all, the tree looked fantastic in real life. It was wonderfully gnarly and twisted, just like trees in Tim Burton films.I’ll admit that the color has been boosted a little bit here, but it helps convey what it really looked like when I was there. Here, I was aiming to “frame” the photo with the tree and its shadows in the foreground, directing attention to the rosy rock fins.

My father taking a picture:

My parents atop a fin:

This was taken while I was going up one of the fins, near the end of the hike. Mom and Dad are in this one, and were wondering where I went.  It was a great opportunity to take a photo of them in this beautiful landscape. The view of the Double-O Arch (I think that’s what this is) in the background was very nice, too.

One of the fins that must be climbed on the way back from Double-O Arch:


Devil’s Garden

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One of our favorite hikes in the Moab area, and one we do on almost every visit to the area, is Devil’s Garden Primitive Loop.  Located at the very end of the main road in Arches National Park, this loop includes the main trail out to Double O Arch and another section that’s only somewhat more difficult than the main trail.

Near the start of our hike on this most recent trip, I noticed a sort of “V” in between two rock formations through which I could see another interesting formation beyond:


Here’s is a view looking back up the trail not long after starting out.  If you look very closely, perhaps in an enlarged version of the photo, you can see some people hiking along the trail.

[groups_member group=”Registered”]

Here, Marilyn is taking her own photo of Landscape Arch.  This shot was taken just before starting the slog through the sand on on the “primitive” trail leading off the mail trail.


Devil’s Garden has many fins.  If the fins erode away enough, sometimes a series of small towers is formed:

Here, [groups_member group=”Registered”]Marilyn and Marie[/groups_member][groups_non_member group=”Registered”]my wife and daughter[/groups_non_member] look at a collection of fins:

I really like this shot.  Here, [groups_member group=”Registered”]Marilyn[/groups_member][groups_non_member group=”Registered”]my wife[/groups_non_member] is photographing that same set of fins shown in the above photo:

[groups_member group=”Registered”]At a spot shaded by some fins, I got this shot of Marilyn and Marie:


Below is Double O Arch taken from the “primitive” trail somewhat before it rejoins the main trail.  (The main trail starts at the parking area and terminates at Double O Arch.)  If you look closely, you can see four people standing on the top.  When we first saw the arch, one of this group, probably the one on the far right, was gingerly making his way out onto the arch.  He eventually convinced his companions to come join him for a photo.

Here is another view of Double O Arch.  In this photo, you can see why it got it’s name.  There is a large “O” shaped arch on the top and another “O” shaped arch at the bottom.  A clear view of the arch at the bottom is obscured somewhat by some vegetation in this photo.  If you look closely you can see someone standing on the other side of that lower, smaller arch.

As I was ascending the fin looking over Double O Arch, I saw a woman in a very bright shirt posing for a photo.  I think it’s interesting that there are muted versions of some of the same colors in her shirt in the rock face just over her right shoulder – that’s left in this photo:

Here is a view of Double O Arch from that sandstone fin, not far away from where I saw the woman with the multicolored shirt.  You get an unobscured view of the lower arch, but it’s very dark – it looks like it could almost be a cave in this photo:

A view of fins and even an another arch (whose name I do not know) from high atop one of the fins that is part of the main trail back from Double O Arch:

Here, a pair of sightseers stand atop a fin for a better view:

[groups_member group=”Registered”]Marie[/groups_member][groups_non_member group=”Registered”]My daughter[/groups_non_member] descends a steep fin on her way down to Landscape Arch.  Even though it’s steep, so long as you’re wearing appropriate footwear, the traction is very good.

Landscape Arch is the longest known arch in the world.  Pieces of it fall off from time to time.  There once was a trail which lead under the arch, but is is closed now due to safety concerns.  Up the trail a short ways from Landscape Arch, there used to be another arch, now collapsed, that I once visited with my sister back in the 90s.

[groups_member group=”Registered”]A shady spot where Marilyn and Marie wait for me to finish taking pictures of Landscape Arch and Partition Arch.


Here is Partition Arch as seen from the trail just in front of Landscape Arch.  There is also a spur trail, which we did not take this year, which leads to Navajo Arch and Partition Arch.

[groups_member group=”Registered”]Marilyn and Marie nearing the end of the hike:

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