Antelope Canyon

Antelope canyon is by far the most amazing in geological structure and visual beauty of the natural areas we toured while in the West. It is truly majestic. I can imagine that it could have been quite a spiritual experience had we not been in a tour group of excited people. The light filters in through the open slots in the top and bounces off the canyon walls. The colors produced are mesmerizing. The rocks have formed all sorts of shapes. The guides pointed out various things like coyote, chiefs, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, eagle, old woman, and a phoenix. It was cool to see those same things and more. However, I was not able to get photographs of them all. It is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation. This canyon was discovered in 1931 by a young Navajo girl herding sheep. 

 

This is the bus we road with our tour group and guide from the office/store to the canyon on the reservation. It was a bit chilly back there. Fortunately, I had gloves. After turning onto the reservation, the sand started flying. Dirt Man told me, “Don’t turn around.” I did not here the “don’t” part, thus I was met with sand in my face. I decided that Lot’s wife probably was not bad after all she just had a hearing difficulty, like me! They actually advice you not to wear contacts because of the sand. Nope, I didn’t listen. They didn’t bother me until after I left and decided to change them. I should have just left them in. We were covered in red sand, face and clothing. It dusted right off, and was definitely worth getting a bit sandy.

This is the entrance. It is just a slot that goes up and over the canyon and down the other side in a crooked fashion. It is the only corkscrew slot canyon in the world. This canyon is about a quarter of a mile long. The red sandstone was eroded by flashfloods to form the canyon. They guess it took nature millions of years to create this haunting and mysterious structure.

Now the magic of light and color begins!

This canyon is about a quarter of a mile long. The red sandstone was eroded by flashfloods to form the canyon.

Our guide, Bruce, had a great sense of humor. He told us it was discovered by an old woman, and one of the tourists exclaimed that she thought is was a young girl. Bruce replied, “Well, she’s an old lady now.” He also led us to a dark area and told us they called it the “dark room”. Want to guess why. The guides were also very helpful in aiding us to get our best photography shots. Two guides from different tour groups, along with Bruce, helped me take pictures.

It is absolutely breathtaking on every level.

Horseshoe Bend

Of all the sites we saw on our trip out West, this is the one place that totally freaked me out. It was by no means the tallest or even as gigantic as the Grand Canyon. It was something about the cliffs (no gates or barriers) of the canyon and the water together that totally unnerved me. I calmly (I was most likely holding my breath!) took my photographs from a safe distance and walked away. I sat on  the rocks with my back facing the canyon. Dirt Man tried to call me over to where he was (precariously, in my opinion) taking photographs to show me the incredible view from his vantage point. I explained that I could not. He could tell from the look on my face that I was near a full blown panic attack, so he knew not to press me. I seriously had to exercise deep breathing and could only glance over the cliffs every now and then.

This astounding feat of nature is Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. This twist of water is the Colorado River as it meanders through Glen Canyon. The trail is about  a three quarters of a mile long  from the parking lot to the lookout point. The trail is a mixture of sand and sandstone with a lot of dips.

I admit the view is breath taking…and heart racing for those afraid of heights.

Those red and blue dots at the base are tents, campsites, of whitewater river rafters. I can not imagine being that adventuresome. I realize from this view, the water looks serene, however there are rapids along the river.

I guess that is a boat that is anchored in front of the camp area.

See how crazy Dirt Man is? That is one of the reasons I was a nervous wreck. And yes, I did keep my eye on him when I could bear to look. And yes, I did take a picture as proof! I wish I could be as daring because I do feel like I hold him back sometimes…but then again, one of us has to be sane!

The ground was not smooth at the tope of the canyon. This photographs shows the waves and ledges on the area where we were walking.

This is another area of walking surface.

That speedboat looks like an ant zipping down the river!

We did witness a gorgeous sunset over the bend. I admired it far from the edge!

No Frogs or Princes, But Yes, Toadstools!

This has to be the most interesting in rock formation and  strata of any of the places we explored. There is so much diversity in such a small area. One can only surmise the occurences of many millions of years ago that has resulted in this geological treasure.

This area is called the Toadstools Trailhead. According to the BLM information pamphlet, “A toadstool is a formation which has a boulder perched on a rock column, like a mushroom, or “toadstool”. It is formed over millions of years when the softer rock under the boulder erodes away, leaving only the rock pedestal supporting a capstone.”

While this area is predominantly known for the toadstools, every inch is a geological gem. Apparently, there are even more toadstools on top of the mountain which we did not climb.

The cap seems to have fallen from this column. You can see how quickly the strata varies from one point to another…there is no easing or blending into it…it is a sudden change from one type to another. You can even see the texture of the red stone differs from that of the white. The red is smoth and wavy where the white is lumpy, clumpy, and rough. You can also see tumbleweed throughout. Notice the mountain base…you can see the cracks and openings, like small slot canyons and small caves or caverns.

I thought is was fascinating. The back mountain is white with a concave formation in front that is white with a lower level of red strata…and then the ground is the same red rock with streaks of the white running through it. I am so curious as to what caused this.

These are some of the smaller toadstools.

And this reverse to a red upper and white lower with all sorts of hoodoos, peaks and other odd rock formations.

The cap on this toadstool looks like a coyote or dog head.

This appears to be a stone skeleton which I’m guessing is the fallen cap of a toadstool.

These appear to be toadstools in progress.

This looks like a candy cane mountain to me. You can see that there are canyons ripping through the ground at various places. This was an easy hike but did involve a bit of climbing and jumping.

More toadstools and formations.

We’re sitting at the base of a clump of toadstools.

As I was exploring the ever changing ground formation, I felt like I was exploring a crater and thought this must be somewhat what the moon looks like up close…don’t ask me where that thought came from…it was just a passing fancy with I’m sure no accuracy at all.

Another candy cane mountain with scattered tumbleweed.

This shot allows the enormous size of the toadstools to sink in.

Pretty amazing, huh? Now, you see why I am so intrigued by them.

**This area is just a small expanse of the 1.9  million acres of  the Bureau of Land Management’s first National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel

See that hole in the mountain? (Middle of the pic toward the bottom) That’s a window in the tunnel. Yes, there is a tunnel that goes right through the mountain! Pretty amazing.

View from my car window.

Entrance to the tunnel. Can you believe what man is capable of creating? Seriously, there’s a tunnel through the mountains…amazing!

That’s one of the windows in the tunnel. There is no lighting in the tunnel except those couple of windows and the front and rear entrance. I was praying that our headlights would not fail us! This tunnel was completed in 1930, and at the time was the longest of it’s type in the United States. It is 1.1 miles long.

As we exited the tunnel, there were more incredible mountains to view from both sides and in front. Of course, I had to look back to see what we’d just come through.

We were lucky enough to feast our eyes on some more wildlife. We watched this bighorn sheep for a while.

In this photo, you can see the rear of a bighorn and two sheep lying down to his right.

We went a bit farther down the road and saw this bighorn sheep. He seemed unbothered by our watching him.

This looks like it might be the beginning of an arch in that mountain.

I love the colors of the rock formations in the mountains and canyons in this photo.

Emerald Pools

After taking the sunrise photographs, watching the turkey and deer, and stopping to take roadside shots of the mountains, it was still quite early in the morning. We headed to the trails at Emerald Pools. This proved to be the most spectacular view we’d gotten thus far, and the most enjoyed hike since Red Rock Canyon in Nevada.

The path started on a paved trail with short drop offs. The farther on the trail we continued, it became more rough and rugged with loose sand and rock and sometimes slippery areas with much longer drop offs.

The formations along the rock walls of the mountain we were climbing were just incredible. There were natural  ledges, shelves, grooves, knots, holes, and spikes either protruding from or eroded into the walls and floor.

This section looked like it had huge teeth sticking out, and the holes were large enough to stick your hands inside.

These are the same mountains we’d photographes at sunrise, but from a much closer view.

The waterfalls, hanging gardens, and the view itself toatlly blew Weeping Rock away. There was no comparison. Of course, this was a bit more of a hike than Weeping Walk, but well worth it. There were three levels of Emerald Pools, and the trails became a bit more difficult as you advanced to the next level of pools.

There was a much more defined water fall than that of the “seeping” of Weeping Rock.

Naturally, the water from the falls has to go somewhere…the Emerald Pools.

The waterfalls are truly spectacular, especially agaisnst the colorful canvas of Autumn foliage.

You can see how tiny I appear in the right hand side of the photgraph as Dirt Man took this from the other side of the bend.

At this point, we were still on the designated trail. I am walking up the natural rock steps between two boulders.

Of course, it wouldnot be a true excursion if Dirt Man did not venture off the deignated course…but what a delight that he did (after I fussed at him, of course!)…he found two caves. Here he is standing in the larger of the two. It was home to a few tarantula…I did not take pictures of them because I was not delighted in finding them there…but I guess it beat having bats fly into my head. No, that didn’t happen, but that’s what always happens in movies.

This is the smaller one, and a bit darker and spookier than the larger one.

Dirt Man looks kind of small walking around that boulder.

This is another shot of the mountains from our viewpoint.

This is taken from a higher elevation.

I colors of the foliage compliment the strata of the mountains.

I was awestruck every time I looked head on at that mountain.

I loved this view with all of the gold and green below. One thing I noticed about this area was the shade of green. Most of the green was more of a lichen/mossy green as apposed to the lush green of the East Cost. It made a soothing, subtle palette

This was the largest Emerald Pool. It was magnificent with boulders long the right side. I din’t post many pics of the pools because the other scenery was even more beautiful…and I could only include so many photographs.

This was a spectacular view. The travel of sound was particularly amazing, and a bit unsettling at times. Several times, we heard the crashing of rocks sliding, tumbling, and echoing through the mountains. I was in awe of the size and power of all that surrounded me. Each time I heard the rumbles, I wanted to be out of the mountains. However, I knew that I really wasn’t any safer at the bottom than the top, and no matter where I went in Zion, I was surrounded by mountains of rock. I had to squash those thoughts whenever they started, and look around me and bask in the beauty of that moment in time.

We climbed up and around this. Sounds kind of crazy when I look at it from this view. It really look different when you’re right up on it.

Another shot of the same view.

Here’s a shot of one of the smaller pools.

This is a black and white of the pool area off the trail near the caves.

I had to include a shot of my nemesis, medal chains…when I know it is a maintained trail and contains chains, I automatically freak thinking that it must be too difficult to attempt, but somehow, I still manage to do the unmaintained trails that are steeper and do not contain chains…chains should be my friend. What is wrong with me?

Turkeys and Deer Feeding In The Early Morning

After we took the sunrise photographs, we continued down the road to the nearest scenic view. Dirt Man has always had a way of spotting wildlife long before I do, and he also has a knack for immitating animal calls. He pulled into the pull off and lo and behold their was a flock of seven turkeys pecking around in the grass beneath the tree limbs. He immediately started gobbling and got them excited.  Then he remembered that he had turkey and owl call on his I-Touch. He started that thing up and another flock of seven turkeys flew out of a tree to our right. I’ve never heard such fussing and carrying on. Their was only one Tom in the bunch, and he was highly aggitated. He was strutting his stuff and strumming to beat the band. When Dirt Man would play the owl, he’d get downright crazy scratching and calling back. It was quite entertaining, and kept us busy for a long time. We actually had to pull ourselves a way.

If you look closely, you can see many of them blending into the natural background.

This is the closest picture I got, and I think this one is the male.

They ignored our physical and verbal presence and continued eating. They were only flustered with the animal sound made by Dirt Man and the I-Touch.

Then this buck wandered over. They were pretty much oblivious (or maybe just tolerant) of one another. Both the deer and turkey contined eating right next to one another.

This deer was of fairly good size.

Here are a couple more deer just a few feet down the road. There are deer everywhere, and are pretty much unconcerned with humans. Of course, they come out more in the early morning and at dusk.

A Zion Sunrise

We got up really early to catch the sunrise over the mountains of Zion. It was a spectacular show of lights and shadows dancing off the mountains’ sides and tops. The sunlight is the brightest I’ve ever experienced! It was quite chilly, so I was trying to work my camera with my gloves on. From the rear of the museum, we were able to position ourselves for some lovely shots. I’ll only post a few of them. Each post I am only selecting a few photos, though I’m sure you all are probably sick of seeing them by now. We took a total of over 1700 on our trip out West!

I think this looks almost like a gigantic rock castle.

The upper right (above) of this picture looks like a natural arch in the making.

I love the rocky formations of the strata in these mountains. It looks like a bunch of old chimneys.

We did not know that this arch existed (above, center of pic) until someone asked us if we knew if there was a trail leading to it. Dirt Man was able to locate it with his binnoculars and then zoomed the camera in for a photo. I wish we had been able to get to it. We found out later that some of our excursions were very close to arches…oh well, we’ll make sure we get to those next year.

I love the look of the scoop of this range with all of the colorful foliage. I am so glad we were able to see Autumn in all of it’s glory against the backdrop of the stone mountains.

I honestly did not expect to see so much green in these mountains. I thought it would be all rock and not much living color. I was quite wrong and not the least bit disappointed.

This beautiful strip of green made me think of a quilt pattern, more like the pattern of an Indian blanket. As I was exploring the mountains, I could really see the inspiration of  the Southwest Indian art…the color, texture, shapes…it was everywhere. We are always told to create what we know, and they surely did.

Gateway To The Narrows

We left Weeping Rock almost at dusk, and traveled to catch to sunset at the Gateway to the Narrows. I’ve heard that the Narrows is a great hike up the Virgin River. It was too cold in November for us to undertake it, but I would have loved to hike it.

If you look closely at the mountains, you can see the slot canyons, just little wedges carved (or mountains drifted) into the sides. These areas make fabulous hikes. It’s amazinng how much beautiful scenery can be expereinced from these vantage points. I always think that the best is seen from above or below, but am amazed at what is waiting right there for us.

That is a natural archway on the side of that mountain just waiting for time and the elements to do their jobs. It appears that it will be a colosal one.

The colors are beautiful along the shore of the Virgin River and at the base of the mountains.

Everything look a bit more daunting as the darkness settles in.

This is the Temple of Sinawava.  Sinawava means “Coyote”  in Southern Paiute. There is probably some historical significance or Indian lore to this, but I couldn’t find any when I googled it. I love these free standing forms.

Dusk at the temple of Sinawava.

Another pretty shot of the Virgin River at the mouth of the Narrows.

Like the other mountains, I see a few faces along the sides of these!

This one looks like a Buddha face directly above the yellow leaves. This moountain has all kinds of crevices, ledges, stacks, and formations. It is truly a natural work of art.

Weeping Rock (Or Was That Me Crying In Fear?)

 

It is no secret that I was awestruck as I laid eyes on the first mountain as we entered the West. There seemed to be a tremendous shift in size from Nevada to Utah. Then, as we entered Zion National Park, I began to feel overwhelmed. Not in a bad way, but in a way that is difficult to express. It’s more of a spiritual thing. I was in pure wonderment. However, it was at this point, Weeping Rock that the sheer magnitude enveloped me. From below, I was amazed, but when I reached the top and looked over the many shades of crimson, gold, and green in the canyons between the rocks of white, gray, sand, terracotta, and mauve. I was astounded and absorbed in the creativity of God. I never knew so much color and shape could exist in one area and in such magnitude. There were series of smaller mountains sitting on larger mountains. Ledges jutted out throughout the mountains. From wherever I was, there were mountains towering over me or waiting below. There were mountains in front, behind, and to each side of me. I was engulfed in rock. I began to think WAY too much…so much, I began to scare myself. I felt so small and insignificant.

I am not going to do a lot of writing in this post. I will let the photographs speak for themselves. I will explain a bit about weeping rock when I get to those photographs. I want you to see what leads up to this rock, and then tell you about it, and then tell you about how I was when I left there.

Springs drip from within the walls of Weeping Rock, hence the name. Ledges protrude from the soaring walls from which hanging gardens flourish.

We found out that Hidden Canyon is located between the walls of the mountains we could see from that point. Dirt Man thought it would be a great hike, not too strenuous, but would involve some rock climbing. So, I did that in Nevada…no big deal, or so I thought. Then, we got back to the hotel, and he showed me some photographs on Google Earth. The photographs showed people hanging on to chains to make their way up. I thought I had conquered my fear of heights at the mountain I climbed in Nevada. I was way wrong! This mountain made the last one seem like a mole hill. I could not sleep when we went to bed. I tossed and turned with worry. I didn’t want to break it to Dirt Man that I just didn’t have it in me to climb it. When I told him, he was fine about it and suggested some other things that would be just as beautiful but less intimidating. It ends up that we later did Emerald Pools which was even more beautiful and just as difficult in some places. I guess I have a phobia I need to work on. I need to remember that things look much different from a distance than when you are on top of them…

See the face on the side of that mountain? I found “ancestrial ” faces as I call them on every mountain.

Not All Beehives Sting (Unless You Fall Off!)

Dirt Man and I were fascinated with the beehive rock formations we could see along the mountains as we were driving. The formations consist of sandstone that has been weathered by wind and precipitation into beehive shapes. This particular area contains several of them. He noticed one that didn’t appear to be too dificult to walk out to explore. We parked and took off through a field of sage and other desert weeds. It wasn’t a long or a strenuous hike. It did involve a bit of climbing and maneuvering up and over waves and  ledges of sandstone.

This chunk of rock appears to have been sliced in half. It looks like a half of a beehive. You’ll see in the next picture that it was somehow shoved apart, split, or separated from the rest of the mountain.

That is me walking through the center opening. The foundation is the same stone as each side. You can see the same strata on each side and can tell that they once connected. There is not a missing piece. It seems as if it drifted or was shoved. I have no idea what happened millions of years ago to cause it.

Plants and trees are growing throughout the layers of sandstone. Even trees with roots above the stone are thriving. I suppose the vegetation is resilient to survive desert conditions.

I find this curving Pine (Pinyon or Bristle)  interesting. It’s as if the trees bend, twist, or stretch to do whatever is needed to remain.

Do you see the tinybeehives (only tiny from this angle and in comparison to the mountain, but surely large upon approach) on the top ridges of this mountain and along the base?

The actual texture is misleading from a distance. The layers appear smooth and easily accessible. However, some ridges are steep and bumpy. Other parts are slick. You have to watch your footing as it is easy to slip or trip, and you even have to jump and climb some areas.

This beehive has a lot of ledges, bumps, holes, and slots. Along with the strips of colored layers, the intricacies add to the beauty. It appears as if the lower portion pushed forth and thrust the upper portion up.

That’s Dirt Man walking around this beehive…kind of shows the magnitude of it’s size.

This view shows how the rocks were pushed up from beneath.

There always seems to be a lone tree battling the elements upon the top of the rocks. This view gives you a better view of the stair-stepping and ledges along the height of the mountains.

Here is another beehive upon a different rock conglomeration.

These are some smaller beehives around those weathered twisted trees.

This shot gives you a fairly good view of the layered foundation.

The top of this mass has all kinds of smaller formations on it. I’ve heard them called tents, stove pipes, chimneys, pyramids, and spires. I really don’t know exactly what constitutes one or the other.

These rocks that are sticking up in between the beehives are called hoodoos, also formed by wind and precipitation.

This mountain looks like a face with the two starts of beehives as nostrils and the holes above as eyes. The holes look like someday they will form arches one the side of the mountain.

This was a fun and interesting excursion, definitely one whim I’m glad Dirt Man led me on. I always tease him about whether or not he can find our way back when we take off like that. He has a keen sense of direction where mine really sucks. I’d be lost for sure if I was alone. (Heck, I almost needed a map to find him in the king size bed at the hotel…although I probably woudn’t have been able to read the map anyway!)

As we left the area, this good looking friendly dude came right up to our vehicle to tell us goodbye.