After getting all rested up after hiking The Wave the day before, I was ready for my next tour. I hired a tour company to take me to a remote slot canyon that required true 4WD to get there. The road there must have had 2 feet of very soft sand that I would have definitely not felt comfortable to drive.
We finally arrived at Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. Right off the bat it was just beautiful!
Scarlett loved it because it was shady and cool and she liked running up ahead and racing back through the narrow slot. I got her to slow down enough for a photo op.
The tour guide was amazing. He was very patient and knowledgeable in photographing slot canyons. The best part was that he would help me frame up a shot and then help me with the manual settings to capture the moment with the best possible light.
Sometimes the canyon was very narrow and sometimes it would widen up. I loved how it changed with each curve.
One of my favorite spots of the canyon was photographing this big log. I loved having this focal point in the photo.
Here’s some other photos I took during the tour.
Too soon we reached the end of the slot canyon. A Western Whiptail had fallen into the canyon and was in deep shade. It was so cool in the shade that he was very still. This enabled me to take a few fun photos. Afterwards I picked him up and carried him to a sunny area. He woke up then!!!
After the tour I realized I had plenty of time to drive to Zion National Park and do a hike for evening photos. I had picked out a hike that is not well known. I wanted to hike a trail that wasn’t crowded by loads of tourists. The trail is called Lower Pine Creek Waterfall Trail. It isn’t listed on any of the park maps so most tourists don’t know it exists.
To get there I had to drive the famous park highway. It’s a very scenic drive with lots of places that make you want to stop for photos.
At one stop there were loads of Big Horn Sheep grazing near the road. I didn’t have my zoom lens with me, but they were so close it didn’t matter!
The trail was short but beautiful. It headed into a narrow canyon along Lower Pine Creek. I arrived at the trailhead just before sunset. I was hoping to get some nice golden hour/blue hour photos.
Scarlett was thrilled to have water to play in. We had to cross the creek several times. We also had to scramble over large boulders.
There were several nice spots to take photos.
The trail was supposed to end with a beautiful waterfall. I had seen photos of this waterfall and was really looking forward to photographing it. However, this past winter was a very wet winter and all the creeks in the park were way up.
I got to this huge pond in the creek just before the waterfall. It was at least 6 feet deep. Too deep to cross and keep my camera gear dry! Sadly I had to turn around without seeing the waterfall (which was literally just around the corner from this pond).
As I was heading out I heard all of the Bighorn Sheep coming down to the creek for a drink. They were bleating loudly to each other. I looked and looked but never saw a one even though I could hear they were very close.
In early June I took a trip of a lifetime for a photographer. I have dreamed for years of hiking to and photographing “The Wave” formation in the desert of Utah/Arizona.
In order to hike to “The Wave” formation you have apply to a lottery and hope to win one of 20 tickets available for each day. Based on an average of how many people apply for each day, I calculated that I had a .001% chance of winning a ticket. AND I WON!!!
My hiking date was for Tuesday, June 4. I figured I was pushing it pretty close to the “too” warm weather to hike it comfortably. But based on average temperatures for the area, the high of the day was to be 84 degrees. Not too bad, but hiking on red sandstone was definitely going to be warm.
So I set out for southern Utah on Monday, June 3, and was going to stay for 5 days and see the sights around Kanab, Utah. This town is a cute, quaint town and central to so much desert beauty.
I try to see as many of our country’s National Parks as possible. I believe we should support the preservation of these sites that are so unique to our country. So I planned on stopping at the Hubbell Trading Post National Monument. This is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The trading post was built in 1878 by John Lorenzo Hubbell.
I couldn’t stay long but had a little time to see the store and the barn next door. The inside of the post had the original wood floors and glass cabinets. Sadly no one was available to show me the Hubbell home. This was a shame because it’s an 11,500 square foot home full of Hubbell Family heirlooms.
I was quickly back on the road. My goal was to get to Kanab before sunset so I could visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for sunset photos.
The sand of the dunes is a beautiful color and the texture is like powder. It was very difficult to walk in. Scarlett was so happy to finally get out of the car and stretch her legs.
We hiked around for a while to find a good place for sunset photos. Tough climbing up the steep dunes.
We finally found us a good spot to wait for the sun to reach a nice level for photos. While sitting and enjoying the beautiful evening, Scarlett kept running around and exploring. Getting rid of the pent up energy after sleeping in the car all day.
Finally the sun started setting and the air began to cool. Once this happened all kinds of critters started coming out from the sand. I really liked this translucent grasshopper that popped up right beside me. He was only about 1/4 inch long.
At last the lighting was perfect to start taking pictures. This one was my favorite.
I had thought I could get nice blue hour photos, but the sand just turned dark and didn’t look nice. It would have been nice to stay for milky way photos but I was just too tired to stay up late for that. Plus! My big hike to the Wave was going to start early the next day.
I decided to hire a tour guide to take me to The Wave. There is no formal trail to take you there which made me nervous to hike by myself. I’m glad I did because I know I would have made a few wrong turns adding a few miles to my overall hike. As it was, I hiked 7 miles that took 5 hours.
I knew it was going to be hot so I got Scarlett a vest that held water and cooled her as it dried. It worked great! I also had her carry a lot of water to keep hydrating it.
We started the hike at 7:30 am. First we followed along the bottom of an arroyo. There were birds singing everywhere but I never saw a one. This was to be the case for my entire trip!
We eventually left the arroyo and started walking along a sandy trail. This led to a large area of sandstone that we had to walk across. This is when the views got so pretty.
The red sandstone was so beautiful. And the formations formed by the wind were stunning.
We climbed and skirted along the sandstone formations for a couple of miles.
I really enjoyed this part of the hike. Walking on sandstone is nice because of the firm footing. But eventually the sandstone really started to have an incline to it. It was tough hiking for a good mile.
Then we came to another arroyo. We had to climb down the steep sandstone and then back up another steep section. But at this point I could see we were only about 1/4 mile from the wave. That was enough to motivate me!
Finally I was at The Wave!!!!! You enter from the back of the Wave to the north and the Wave faces south. When I got to the back of the Wave I was happy to see a small puddle of water left from the recent rains in the area. Scarlett was happy too and wanted to jump in and cool off.
I made her wait until I took a few photos. She waited but you could tell she really wanted to play in that water.
I finally let Scarlett get in the water. Happy girl!
At first I thought this was the Wave and was thinking, “it sure looked bigger in photos I saw on the Internet…”
My guide must have seen my expression because he laughed and said, ‘This is just the entrance to the Wave!” Yay!
So I walked through that opening to the left behind me. And all I can say is WOW!!! It was stunning! So worth the hike there.
We stayed about an hour there at the Wave exploring all the nooks and crannies. I couldn’t believe no one else showed up while I was there. It was great having the place to myself for all that time.
There was a cool mini slot canyon next to it. The lighting was perfect when I got there.
I hiked above the Wave to get a bigger view. It was so beautiful. The swirling rock was just stunning!
The views from this area were so pretty. Even though my guide has been here many times, you can tell he still enjoys the views.
I climbed even higher and found a very deep water pool. Scarlett was ecstatic to have so much water to play in.
Sadly it was time to head back. The day was growing warmer by the minute. My guide offered to take me to another formation but that would have added another 2 hours to my hike. I felt Scarlett and I would do better to just head back now.
On the way back we finally started running into the other hikers that won permits. I couldn’t believe they were just starting their hike at the beginning of the hottest part of the day. I hope they all made it there ok.
Scarlett and I had a wonderful day hiking. We took a 2-hour nap when we got back to the hotel. Then I went out and had a fabulous steak dinner to celebrate. A wonderful way to end the day.
Stay tuned for Part 2 – slot canyons and a river hike in Zion.
I feel like I’ve been going a lot lately and haven’t had any time to blog. I’m still trying to catch up writing about my San Antonio visit last May/June.
While there I took the time to visit the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park encompasses 5 missions and an historic acequia (water canal). Sadly, the park didn’t open until 9 am. By this time, the best lighting had passed, and the weather was already hot as fire! Despite the conditions, I had a good time exploring the missions.
I did manage to get a nice pic in the morning light just outside the monument walls.
Mission San Jose
The first mission I visited was Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo. This mission was constructed in 1768 and was designated a National Historic Site in 1966. It had a large fenced in lawn with lots of buildings that used to house the friars that lived there.
Mission San Jose
Old well outside of the mission
The front of the mission has been beautifully carved. It’s amazing that these works of art are still in great condition after 250 years.
Front doors of Mission San Jose
The inside has been preserved beautifully.
Sanctuary of Mission San Jose
The National Park is large. It has about 15 miles of trails to hike and bike. I wasn’t about to do either in the Texas summer heat and humidity. So I drove to the next mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano. This mission was built in East Texas in 1716. Then in 1731, the mission was moved to San Antonio. It was designated at National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Bell tower of Mission
Sadly I wasn’t allowed to go inside this mission.
Following that was Mission San Francisco de la Espada which was established in 1690 in central Texas. It underwent several name changes until 1731 when it too was moved to San Antonio. This mission was added to the National Historic Register in 1972.
Mission San Francisco de la Espada
I was able to step inside the sanctuary of this mission. I didn’t realize there was a ceremony underway. You can see the girl in the chair up front in her white dress. She was celebrating her Quinceanera. A celebration in the Latin communities for a girl’s 15th birthday. I took a quick pic and left the patrons to their celebration.
Quinceanera being celebrated
I then stopped at the Espada Aqueduct. This aqueduct was built by Franciscan Friars in 1731 to supply irrigation water to lands near Mission San Francisco de la Espada. The aqueduct is still in use today and is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. It received these designations in 1964.
The double arches of the aqueduct.
I walked down to the stream. Scarlett was so excited to see water. Before I let her play and get a drink, I took pictures of the cool fish gathered in a pool. There were lots of dragonflies about but very skittish. I managed to get a pic of one little guy.
Texas Ciclid – this fish was about 3 inches long. You can see little babies it’s protecting
After the aqueduct, I drove to Mission Concepcion. I loved the grounds surrounding this mission. It had beautiful palm trees and expansive lawns.
Beautiful old palm trees
This mission had a lot of rooms to explore along with a beautiful sanctuary.
Alter at the Mission
I hope you enjoyed reading about my morning exploring the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. By now it was 11:30 am and it was over 100 degrees F, and I was so ready for a cold drink, a shower and air conditioning!
Recently I was invited to a night photography workshop held near the Pecos National Monument. I have dabbled in night photography a couple times in the past with poor results. Mostly because my camera I was using at the time was not meant to do night shots. But also because I just didn’t know what the heck I was doing. :-\
So when I was invited to do a workshop that was going to be hosted by several people that were much more experienced at it then me, I jumped on the opportunity. I invited my friend Valerie to join me. We love going out together for camera time.
We drove to Pecos and arrived late afternoon. I had believed the Pecos National Monument was open until 5:30. But sadly, they closed as soon as we got there at 4:30,. Winter hours had begun. 🙁 We weren’t going to meet our group until 6 so we had a 1.5 hours to kill.
I decided to drive up Highway 63 to see what might be interesting to see. We stopped at an old historic church for a few brief photos. Usually these old churches are locked whenever I am there. But on this day, it was open! Such a beautiful sanctuary.
Further up the road we crossed the Pecos River. We just had to stop. The setting sun was glorious on the water with the stunning fall colors.
Next stop was Monastery Lake. I’ve driven by the turn off for this lake several times this summer without stopping. So it was nice to stop in this time. It was a small little lake that seemed popular for fishing. Lovely fall colors surrounded the lake.
Fishermen along the shore
We figured we better start back to the meeting place. But I had one more stop to make. I had seen this cool old garage as we pulled out from the church earlier. So I quickly pulled into the driveway and snapped a few pics.
I loved the patina of the paint
There were a couple of dogs in the driveway that seemed friendly enough. But when it came time to leave, they were determined to chase the car and run in front of us. I couldn’t go very fast for fear of running them over. We had to drive down the road slowly for a ways before they finally gave up. Whew! They almost made us late for our workshop!
We had to be at the meeting spot on time or we would be locked out. We were allowed to shoot at an old ranch that isn’t open to the public. We drove up to the gate with moments to spare!
After a quick meeting, the group broke up into smaller groups around the ranch. Valerie and I decided we wanted to go down to this bridge to get shots of the bridge, river, moon and milky way. Several of us went to the bridge – including an experienced night photographer. Yay!
We had to wear red headlamps to save our night vision. I took a quick pic of Valerie for fun. I thought I took a selfie but I guess it didn’t take. 🙁
Valerie bundled up for the cold night ahead
So we made it to the bridge, got some great advice from our expert in the group, and set up our tripods and cameras. We checked our apps to see where the Milky Way was going to be and pointed our cameras that direction. And there was a sliver of a moon getting ready to set. The sky was the most beautiful purple hue.
Beautiful purple skies
The sun set quickly and I took my first photo of the Milky Way. It was thrilling! I took a 20 second exposure with a 20 second high noise reduction setting. I was anxiously waiting to see what I got. And then it appeared on my camera screen. I was so excited to see my first photo come out so beautifully!
My first Milky Way shot!
The group then decided to try light painting the Pecos River. I have tried light painting in the past with OK results. I realized later than I used too much light to highlight my subject. On this night we literally just lit the river a couple of seconds over a 20 second exposure. I think it turned out nice.
Light painting of the Pecos River
We then light painted the bridge we were standing on. It was a little more difficult as the bridge was white. It really reflected the light. We only had to very briefly shine the light. Even then the bridge is pretty bright. But I like the photo I got.
Bridge over the Pecos River
We were really concentrating on the south side of the bridge. When I turned around and looked to the north, I saw this great deciduous tree silhouetted by the lights of Santa Fe in the distance. I just had to capture it with the purple skies and wonderful light. I was very pleased with my shot. We tried light painting the tree, but I wasn’t as happy with those pics.
By this time, several hours had passed. It went so quickly! We needed to move to warm up. By now the temperature was 32 degrees and we were getting cold standing still. We headed up the hill to the old ranch house. There’s this giant steer head sculpture on the fireplace. We took several exposures of this view but I wasn’t happy with most of them. This is probably the best shot I got.
By now we were very cold. It was time to go home. On one hand I wanted to stay longer, but on the other I was ready to leave. Those heated seats in my Jeep were pure heaven!!!
I had a great time on my first night shot outing. I’m definitely ready to do more!
Week 4 was “Self Portrait”. Lots of things came to mind for me for this week’s challenge I thought about setting up my camera on a tripod and getting creative with lighting, etc. But then I thought, I need to show “me” as I see myself.
So here’s my “selfie” for the challenge. I love exploring interesting, picturesque places…and most especially in the southwest. The varied landscapes and wide vistas can’t be beat in New Mexico. And while exploring and photographing my adventures, I like to look my best. And that means doing my hair and wearing red lipstick. 🙂
This photo was taken at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. I had a great time exploring the dunes. It was 20 degrees outside but I didn’t seem to notice since the sun was shining so nicely. I haven’t been t0 White Sands since about 1976 when I was a young girl. While there I thought of all the fun my family had picnicking in the dunes.
Kelly having a good hair day 🙂
Scarlett obviously couldn’t take her own selfie. Now she’s a smart girl and could probably figure it out, but I didn’t have the time to show her LOL! So I took her picture for her. She loved running up and down the dunes as fast as she could go. You can see she was having a great time.