Mar 8 2013

Badwater to The Racetrack

Death Valley Trip 2013 | Day 4
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

As usual, I was up and taking down my campsite while it was still dark out. Thanks to the long nights this time of the year I still managed to get plenty of sleep and was wide awake. I drove back to Badwater and hiked out to the salt polygons before dawn.

The 11,049 foot Telescope Peak and the rest of the Panamint Range stand tall over Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level) at dawn.


Telescope Peak Dawn by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Sunlight strikes the Panamint Range across Death Valley.


Badwater Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were endless compositions with all the different, yet similar, shapes in the salt. This large polygon caught my eye as I hiked around the area.


Salt Polygons by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the sun was up I hiked back to my Jeep and started driving further north into the park. Ever since I first saw a photo of and learned of the ‘sailing stones’ of The Racetrack, I knew I had to visit them for myself one day. Today would be that day. What interests me the most about these moving rocks is that no one has actually seen them move, as far as I can tell. There are a few theories on how these rocks move that involve a wet slippery surface, high winds, and possibly some ice- yet the actual cause hasn’t really been proven. It’s kind of cool that such a mysterious site still exists in this day and age. If you’d like to find out more, check out the Sailing stone Wikipedia page.

Before visiting The Racetrack, I setup my campsite at the primitive Homestake Campground nearby.


Homestake Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once my camp was setup, I drove back to The Racetrack and did a little scouting of the area for when the light would get better closer to sunset.

I thoroughly hiked and searched the area of the playa containing these strange moving rocks and them climbed to a higher vantage point. I made sure to include three hikers in this photo to show the scale of this place.


Racetrack Playa Scale by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A few clouds drift over the ephemeral lakebed.


Racetrack Playa by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Since I still had plenty of time before sunset, I drove back over to check out The Grandstand. First I hiked all the way around it, and then I climbed part of the Ubehebe Peak trail so that I could get a better view from above. The Grandstand rises abruptly from the very flat dry lakebed.


The Grandstand by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Sunset was soon approaching, so I hiked back out to photograph the sailing stones of The Racetrack. Throughout the day there were plenty of other people checking out these rocks on the playa, but as soon as sunset came near most of them disappeared. Only one other person was out there with me, and even he left before the sun had finally set.

My shadow grows longer as the sun sinks lower into the sky. Moving rocks with their trails imprinted into the playa surround me.


Playa Shadow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I liked the way that the paths of these two rocks crossed, and I would revisit them a few times throughout the evening.


Crisscross by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The sun strikes the playa for the last time of the day before it dips below the distant mountains.


Setting on the Playa by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Some of the paths were erratic…


Random by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

…others were straight or nicely curved.


Playa Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Of course, I stuck around for twilight and took a few photos.


Runaway by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Traveling Rock by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Crossroads by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the light was gone, I hiked across the playa to my Jeep and drove back to camp. It was a great day!

>> Badwater to The Racetrack Playa Photo Gallery


Mar 7 2013

Zabriskie Point to Badwater

Death Valley Trip 2013 | Day 3
Monday, February 11, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

My alarm woke me up a few hours before sunrise on Monday morning. I quickly got my camp loaded back in the Jeep and started the short drive over to the popular Zabriskie Point. As usual, I was the first to arrive with plenty of time to scout the location in the dark. I guess I should mention that it was my birthday. I had purposely planned this trip to coincide with my birthday, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day.

Looking over the badlands from Zabriskie Point shortly before the sun would rise for the day.


Zabriskie Badlands by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The prominent Manly Beacon, the Panamint Range and the Earth’s shadow come together for this scene.


Manly Dawn by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

First light on the Panamint Range on the other side of Death Valley.


Zabriskie Point Morning by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were even a few clouds if you looked further south. I love the light on the Panamints in this image.


Morning Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at Manly Beacon while the Panamint Range in the distance is lit up by the early morning sunlight.


Manly Beacon by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

One last view of Manly Beacon right after it is struck by direct sunlight.


Zabriskie Point Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I like the play of shadows and light in this view towards the Red Cathedral.


Red Cathedral Shadows by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the sun was high enough in the sky I packed up my gear and drove the short distance to Furnace Creek. Since it was my birthday, I decided to stop in at the 49′er Cafe for a good hearty breakfast. Before long, my plate was empty and I was back on the road. This time I was headed back into Nevada so I could drive the Titus Canyon Road back into the park. Since Beatty, Nevada was only a few miles further, I continued into town to top off my gas tank. Gas was much cheaper in Beatty.

Following the well-maintained road through the Grapevine Mountains towards Titus Canyon.


Titus Canyon Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I stopped for a quick photo here because I liked the unusual striations in the layers of rock that make up the canyon wall.


Bent Rock by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After a nice drive through the mountains and canyon, I soon reached Klare Spring where there are a few petroglyphs to be found.


Titus Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I’m guessing this represents a bighorn sheep.


Klare Spring Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Soon I entered the Titus Canyon Narrows. There were a few bends with nice light reflecting off the canyon walls.


Titus Canyon Narrows by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another stop to capture the reflected light. Of course, after I rounded the next bend I started running into photographers standing in the middle of the road with their tripods setup…


In the Narrows by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After exiting the canyon I drove south through Furnace Creek again and then followed the West Side Road to Trail Canyon. I drove up this 4×4 road a little way and setup my camp for the evening. This is the closest to sea level that I have camped in a long time.


Trail Canyon Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once my camp was setup I drove over to Badwater so I could photograph the interesting salt polygons that make up the floor of the basin.


Badwater Shadow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The last light of the day strikes the top of the mountains while the Badwater basin is in the shadows.


Badwater Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The shape and textures found in the salt are very unique. I spent a lot of time hiking around the area looking for different compositions. I thoroughly enjoyed the blue and magenta colors reflecting off the salt flat during twilight.


Badwater Twilight by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After hiking back to my Jeep I noticed the sliver of a crescent moon over the Panamint Range and thought it might make a nice simple image. I switched over to my long lens for this shot.


Crescent by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Since it was still my birthday I thought it would be nice to drive back to Furnace Creek and grab a burger at the 49′er Cafe. I ended up having to wait about 30 minutes to be seated, but they did have a pretty decent burger. After the meal, I drove back to my camp along the Trail Canyon Road and fell asleep very quickly after a long day exploring Death Valley.

>> Zabriskie Point to Badwater Photo Gallery


Mar 6 2013

Falling Man to Dante’s View

Death Valley Trip 2013 | Day 2
Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

After a good night of sleep my alarm woke me up before the sun was expected to rise. When I got out of my tent I noticed that some thin clouds had moved in overnight and the sky was completely overcast. I had originally planned to spend some time photographing Little Finland this morning, but with the overcast skies I decided to cancel those plans. Instead, I had a little breakfast, packed up my camp and started driving towards my next destination- the Falling Man petroglyph site.

On my way to the Falling Man site I drove right by Devil’s Throat, so I stopped for a quick look. It’s a giant sinkhole in the desert floor. This is not a good photo, but I’m posting it up anyway since I bothered to stop here.


Devil’s Throat by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I made my plans to spend the first weekend of my trip in the Gold Butte region I really thought that the Kohta Circus petroglyphs were going to be the highlight of my visit. I was wrong. I had a lot more fun exploring the area around the Falling Man petroglyph. Not only were there petroglyphs to be found everywhere I looked, there was also colorful sandstone all over the place. It was like walking through a colorful maze searching for rock art around every corner! I spent more time in this area than I had anticipated and look forward to returning again in the future.

A photo of colorful sandstone in a small alcove reminiscent of scenes found at the Valley of Fire.


Color by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

To access the rock art I had to first crawl through this passage in the rock. The petroglyphs lead the way.


Petroglyph Passage by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Soon I found myself face to face with the interesting Falling Man petroglyph that I had come to see.


Falling Man by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This spot of color on the sandstone was found nearby.


Colorful Spot by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were many smaller petroglyph panels to be found as I hiked around the area. This large boulder was the next larger site I came across.


Boulder Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A closer look at part of the panel.


Boulder Panel Detail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I climbed around the maze some more I found myself on a ledge containing another nice set of petroglyphs.


Hash Marks by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A better look at the right side.


Upper Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While standing on the ledge I noticed there was another large panel of petroglyphs right below my feet. There was no immediate way down to the next level, so I hiked around until I found a way down. When I reached the panel I was treated to another impressive group of petroglyphs.


Newspaper Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Great colors in the sandstone found in this area. You might also notice that the overcast skies finally started to clear out a little as I explored the area.


Colorful Scene by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Petroglyphs and colorful sandstone, a wonderful combination.


Petroglyphs & Colors by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

One of the many small panels found in the area.


Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Hiking back to my Jeep among the Joshua Trees.


Falling Man Trail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before heading back to the interstate, I made one last stop near Whitney Pocket so I could search for some more rock art. The petroglyphs I found here were faded and harder to see, but I liked this panel surrounded by bright green lichen.


Green Lichen by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

From Whitney Pocket I drove back north until I reached the interstate. I headed west and grabbed some lunch on the outskirts of Las Vegas before finishing the drive to Death Valley National Park. Once in the park I drove up to Dante’s View which overlooks Badwater and a good portion of Death Valley. There were quite a few people at the viewpoint, so I hiked to the top of Dante’s Peak which I had all to myself.

Following the trail to Dante’s Peak over Badwater.


Dante’s Peak Trail by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were some storms and clouds moving over Death Valley adding some drama to the landscape.


Death Valley Storm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The surrounding mountains play hide and seek in the low clouds. I could sit and watch this dynamic scene all day.


Mountains & Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Between the Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After my hike to Dante’s Peak I decided to drive back down and find a campsite in Greenwater Valley before it got dark out.


Greenwater Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Once my camp was setup I make a quick drive over to Zabriskie Point so I could scout out the location for the following morning’s sunrise. On my way I pulled over when these layers of desert colors caught my attention.


Layers by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The clouds and storms in the area create a momentary spotlight on this peak.


In the Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After checking out Zabriskie Point I drove back up to Dante’s View to catch the sunset.

When I arrived at the top there were a lot of clouds blocking the light, but the sun did manage to slip through a small hole to light up small sections of the valley floor.


Badwater Spotlight by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I thought this looked like a cool little cloud.


Cloud by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were too many clouds for a great sunset, but shortly after the sun dipped below the Panamint Range these clouds did get a little color.


Purple Mountains by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I stayed at the viewpoint until I was the last one up there (this is usually the case). As I started my drive back down to camp it actually started snowing a little bit, but once I lost a little elevation I managed to get out of the snow. Once I was back in camp I had a little dinner, read for a little while and fell fast asleep so I would be ready for a new day.

>> Falling Man to Dante’s View Photo Gallery


Mar 5 2013

Kohta Circus & Little Finland

Death Valley Trip 2013 | Day 1
Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

It’s been an unusually long and cold winter this year in Grand Junction. That’s why I’m glad I started planning my first trip to Death Valley a few months earlier. It would be nice to get out hiking and camping in temperatures that were a bit warmer than back at home. Though my main destination on this week-long trip would be Death Valley, I planned on spending the first weekend exploring a few locations in Nevada. On Saturday morning I left home bright and early and started my drive west.

As I approached Salina the sun started to come up and painted the clouds above a pink hue. I pulled over for a quick photo over the interstate.


Salina Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A layer of fresh snow that fell overnight coated the landscape and caught my attention.


Fresh Snow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached St. George I needed to get out of the Jeep and stretch my legs a bit. I drove over to Anasazi Ridge along the Santa Clara River and hiked to a few petroglyphs.

Two large rectangular-bodied bighorn sheep.


Two Big Sheep by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A very alien-like figure pecked into the top of a large boulder.


The Alien by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were some real nice panels around this area.


Anasazi Ridge by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After a quick lunch back in St. George, I continued on to Mesquite where I topped off the fuel tank in my Jeep before heading south on the Gold Butte Road.

Low clouds hide the tops of the mountains in the distance as I made my way to Whitney Pocket.


Gold Butte Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I soon reached my first destination in Nevada- the trailhead to the Kohta Circus petroglyphs. After a nice hike across the desert I soon spotted the petroglyphs I was searching for.

I liked the ripples in the sand below the large panel of petroglyphs and made sure to include them in this shot.


Sand & Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a wider view of the same panel.


Long Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

High above I spotted this pristine petroglyph panel and made sure to use my long lens for a closer look.


Kohta Circus Panel by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Hiking back across the desert to my Jeep I stopped for this photo as the clouds opened up and let a little light through in the distance.


Stormy Spotlight by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After returning to my Jeep I started the drive over to Little Finland, where I planned to photograph at sunset and spend the night.

On the way I stopped at this petroglyph panel above the wash.


Mud Wash Petroglyphs by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I reached Little Finland just as the late afternoon light was getting nice, so I grabbed my camera and started to explore the area.


Little Finland by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Through the Eye by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


The Claw by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Standing Tall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Opening by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Reach for the Sky by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Finland Creature by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Catching the Sun by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After the sun had set for the evening there was a nice glow on the sandstone that I stuck around for.


Stained Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Scream to the Sky by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When the light was gone for the day, I hiked back down to my Jeep and setup camp for the night. I read for a little while and then quickly fell asleep. It was a great first day to the trip.

>> Kohta Circus & Little Finland Photo Gallery


Feb 14 2013

Clearing Storm

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

By now I’m sure many of my regular readers are tired of seeing photos from the Colorado National Monument. For those of you who might feel that way, I’m sorry to say I have another trip report of photos taken there. Better stop reading now! After spending over five hours photographing the inversion layer in the Monument on Saturday I had no plans to return on Sunday. However, in the afternoon I noticed the clouds that had been hovering over the Grand Valley all day were finally beginning to break up. I couldn’t resist, so I grabbed my camera and drove back up there. I’m glad that I did!

As I was driving to the Fruita entrance I noticed the clouds hanging in the canyon obscuring the view of Independence Monument. I found somewhere to pull over and switched to my long lens for a closer look.


In the Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached the Monument Canyon view I was pleasantly surprised to find many dynamic clouds in the canyon below.


Clearing Storm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A disappearing act.


Kissing in the Fog by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Closeup of the Kissing Couple before it was completely obscured by the clouds.


Closeup by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I waited until The Island was almost completely engulfed before pushing the shutter for this image. The Book Cliffs stand prominently on the other side of the valley in the distance.


Engulfed by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

A small break in the clouds looking down Monument Canyon.


Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I keep trying for a decent shot of this twisted Juniper tree. I may not have a great shot, but I’m still drawn to it.


Twisted by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Grand View over the cloud bank.


Edge of the World by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Some of the most interesting clouds I have seen at the Monument.


Cloud Layers by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr


Canyons and Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After taking the previous two photos I looked down and to my right and saw my shadow on a thin layer of clouds below surrounded by a circular rainbow. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I knew it was nothing I had seen before, so I quickly took a few photos before it disappeared.


Personal Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a closer look.


Brocken Spectre by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

…and a wider panoramic view. When I got back home I learned that this is an optical phenomena known as a Brocken Spectre or a glory.


Independence Glory by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The other side of the Kissing Couple as the clouds disappear.


Monoliths by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Next I went over to check out the conditions at Pothole Point. There was a lot more cloud coverage over here. I only had a few small breaks like this one.


Passing Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After waiting a while for the clouds to clear a little I finally gave up and headed back to Monument Canyon view. I noticed these sandstone formations in the late sunlight as I drove back.


Sandstone Shapes by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I also stopped for yet another shot of Independence Monument. I love the dappled light on the Book Cliffs in the background.


Independence Sunset by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

By the time I reached the viewpoint again most of the clouds were gone. I did get to catch the last light of the day striking the Kissing Couple.


Highlights by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I was leaving the Monument for the evening I made one last stop at Redland View to capture the beautiful colors in the clouds over the valley.


Redland View by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

>> Clearing Storm Photo Gallery