Sep 16 2012

Once in a Blue Moon | The Arizona Strip

Stud Horse Point, Water in The Wave & The North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Labor Day Weekend | Friday – Monday, August 31 – September 3, 2012

The phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ has long been used to describe rare or absurd happenings, which is definitely how I would classify this extended weekend trip. As an added bonus, this weekend was also host to a Blue Moon on Friday night, which won’t happen again until 2015. A few months ago I scored another set of permits to Coyote Buttes North, and after asking Amanda if she wanted to go again (she declined since she knew she would probably be working that weekend), I asked Jared if he would like to come along for the weekend. He was up for the adventure, so we planned the weekend around our trip to The Wave.

I only worked a half day on Friday so that we could leave a bit early and make it down to the area in time to catch the sunset. Jared drove down from the Salt Lake area to meet me at my house so he could load his gear into my Jeep and drive down with me. Once the Jeep was packed, we hit the pavement and started driving south. Very quickly into the drive I noticed my Jeep was feeling pretty bouncy whenever we hit a bump. It turns out one of my rear shocks was bad and causing this little issue. A bad shock is far from a reason to cancel a trip, but I did have to drive a little bit slower on the highways than I would have liked…just to be on the safe side.

As we reached Page after our long drive, a storm was approaching the area over the Vermilion Cliffs and creating some scenic conditions. We found a place to pull of the road and take a few photos. There were crepuscular rays filtering down through the clouds over the Vermilion Cliffs.

Rays by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Rain was falling in the distance and lit up by sunlight.

Rain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

We grabbed a very quick dinner in Page and tried to continue to our destination on Stud House Point for the sunset, but along the way we started seeing a lot of interesting light and lightning from the approaching storm, so we made a detour to the Wahweap Overlook so we could take a few photos.

Light striking the bands of cliffs in Lake Powell.

Layers of Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jul 26 2012

The Elusive Horse Canyon

Saturday & Sunday, July 14-15, 2012

I first tried to explore Horse Canyon in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park back in 2008 when I camped at Peekaboo with a few friends. Back then the entrance to the canyon had been washed out pretty good and there was a very deep hole blocking vehicle entry. For the past two years I have been checking the condition of the road so that I could finally get back there to start exploring the area, but both the Salt Creek and Horse Canyon roads have been washed out and closed for that long. I have hiked up Salt Creek Canyon twice during those two years, but Horse Canyon was a bit too long for a day hike. A few weeks ago I finally received word that the National Parks Service had finally reopened the roads in Salt Creek and Horse Canyon, so I quickly made plans to get back. I reserved a campsite at Peekaboo for the weekend and invited Jared and Marty to come along.

After work on Friday, I drove down to Cottonwood Canyon and setup camp so that I would be close to Canyonlands in the morning and wouldn’t have to do much driving. There were a few rain showers in the evening, but the precipitation stopped before I went to bed, and I had a great night of sleep.

Good Morning by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

In the morning I had a little time to photograph this ruin high up on the canyon wall. I have driven by this site many times and had not been able to find it before. It would have been a long hike up to reach it, but unfortunately I didn’t have the time this morning to try. I will have to return again to climb up to the ruin for some closer photos.

High Tower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After photographing the tower, I continued my drive into the park where I met Jared and Marty at the Needle’s Visitor Center so that we could get our permits and the combination for the lock on the gate. Jared transferred his camping gear into my Jeep and parked his car at the trailhead before we continued through the locked gate into Salt Creek. The drive through the wash was in soft sand as usual, but the debris that had blocked the road in May had been removed. It was nice to be able to avoid this mosquito-infested area by closing the windows of the Jeep 😉 The deep holes that had blocked the entrance to Horse Canyon had also been filled in a bit. We drove through the holes and brush that was growing in the road and continued up Horse Canyon, where we would be spending much of the day searching for ruins and rock art.

We almost missed the remains of a tower near the mouth of the canyon. Good thing Marty spotted this one after we had passed it.

Watch Tower by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jun 22 2012

Cedar Mesa Ruins & Rock Art

Friday – Sunday, June 8-10, 2012

This weekend I met my friend Philippe and his wife on their annual trip to the Southwest from France. This year we planned a day to do a little hiking and exploring on Cedar Mesa (Last year we spent a day hiking in the San Rafael Swell). We spent Saturday hiking together and searching for a few ruins and rock art sites. That evening I ended up camping at their campsite in Natural Bridges. We also had an unexpected visitor to camp that evening when Laurent Martres and one of his friends stopped by. It was nice to meet him since I used his Photographing the Southwest books when I first started getting into photography a few years ago. We also got to see a sneak peek of a new book he will be publishing soon. On Sunday I went off on my own to do a little more exploring before heading back home. Here are plenty of photos from the weekend in no particular order.

After work on Friday I drove down to the Mule Canyon Towers and set up camp nearby. I managed to get there just as the sun was setting and striking one of the towers.

Cave Tower Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Philippe taking photos of the Bigfoot Ruins. The ruins are named the Bigfoot Ruins because there is a footprint in the mud next to the doorway of one of the structures.

Philippe and the Bigfoot Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A pile of potsherds found at the Bigfoot Ruins.

Bigfoot Potsherds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Bigfoot Ruins by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jun 16 2012

Salt Creek Exploring & The Drive Home

Memorial Weekend in The Needles | Day 3
Memorial Day | Monday, May 28, 2012

After another night of great camping weather we had some breakfast and set out hiking so that we could visit the Flying Carpet Panel. We also explored a few small side canyons before hiking back out to our vehicles near Cave Spring.

This is one of my favorite Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panels, but unfortunately I haven’t made it here in good light yet. Maybe next time…

Flying Carpet Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s Jared taking a photo for some scale of the figures painted here.

Jared and the Carpet by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another panel of pictographs nearby.

One Arm Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Jun 14 2012

The Doll’s House

The Doll's House

This is a photo I took a few years back that I decided to reprocess recently. I never really liked the colors of this photo but I did like the light, so I decided to convert it to black and white and I really like it much better now. It’s an amazing ruin and I really need to get back and take some new photos of it 🙂