Monday, April 26, 2010

The trail, part one. This is the real entrance to the devil's garden in Arches NP. The official trail starts a little way up the road where you'll pass between two enormous fins which slowly diverge as you enter, opening up into what can be truly called a garden in comparison to the sparse vegetation throughout the rest of the park. I like this entrance though, it's not as grand and sudden but rather builds up slowly as you start on one side of a flat grassy field and slowly make your way to the base of the fins in the distance. Once there you trace the perimeter of this fortress of sandstone to find an opening so that you can start climbing into the garden.

On this particular day, the storm clouds from the previous night were just beginning to clear, leaving behind a thin blanket of snow which you can see in the foreground.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Go everywhere twice. This is particularly true for places that receive sunlight through small openings. A few hours pass and the whole place looks completely different. The first time I came to surprise arch it was noon and harsh overhead light washed out the sky and make no interesting shadows on the walls. When I returned, the sun was low in the west and illuminated the far wall just enough to still allow the low-lights to remain visible in the foreground.

It also may have helped that when I returned I came alone. My initial experience was marred by the presence of a group of "jeep enthusiasts" who had been tear-assing in and around Moab all day in a big convoy of 6 jeep wranglers. They really loved their jeeps and could not go anywhere without them, even when they were all going to the same place each individual had to pilot his own hulking gas-guzzler. They even seemed to always travel in the same order. The red one with the biggest tires must have been the leader, kind of like the ibex with the biggest horns. Way in the back of the convoy was the teal stock wrangler, clearly the omega-male. This herd of offroaders seemed to be following me everywhere for a couple of days.

The bottom falls out. I'm thinking about the hikers that I saw entering the 4 mile trail that I was leaving just a half hour before I took this picture. At the time, it was an innocent sprinkle which felt nice on a warm day. Storms seem to roll in faster in the desert. Once I realized that this black cloud racing towards us was producing lightning strikes it was a race to find the highest and most exposed location in the park, to take pictures of course. I've always wanted to try taking a picture of lightning but in Raleigh and most other places with a healthy tree population you just see bits and pieces of storms. In the desert you can view the entire thing as a single entity and really get a sense of how close it is.
24. The highway between Moab and Hanksville, Ut. These clouds were here when I woke up in the morning and the hung around all day without a drop of rain falling. I think that they were trying to lull us into a false sense of confidence. Later, around 5, just as I was getting back into my car after a 4 mile hike through Negro Bill Canyon, the wispy white clouds swelled into massive black pillars and the bottom fell out. The result will be depicted in the next picture. Anyway, this is an extremely straight portion of highway. I'd think that in making a straight road from A to B when A and B are separated by 30 miles you'd better be damned sure that you've lined your bulldozers up right. Even a small deviation to the right and your highway will end 5 miles west of town B.