Showing posts from December, 2015

Zion Narrows - A Startling Labyrinth

Zion Narrows Deep inside Zion National Park, the red-rock walls start closing in. There, our first experience in the dark chasm was negotiating that startling labyrinth known as The Narrows. At first you follow a traditional pathway but after a mile, the river becomes the road. From this starting point, the shallow stream is about ankle high but before long you’re wading through water that is waist deep. Tinted a muddy green, the Virgin is an unpredictable force propelled by a swift current that gets even stronger as the canyon becomes compressed. Thunderstorms that occur miles upstream can create a dangerous situation for unsuspecting hikers in Zion. Heavy rainfall can send a powerful swell through the unforgiving gorge, trapping anything unlucky enough to be stuck inside. Fortunately, our canyoneering experience was filled with nothing but beautiful scenery and blue skies. Due to unstable footing, attaining the mysterious slot was a slippery endeavor but well worth the s

Mule Deer - A Curious Creature

Curious Mule Deer On a wintery afternoon, a hardy visitor unexpectedly appeared out of the mist. A young mule deer buck was out in the meadow foraging for the most nutritious food source available. Munching on mostly shrubs, twigs and tree branches, our famished friend displayed an enormous appetite. On just such a diet, the disheveled deer had managed to survive another harsh winter. As I slushed through snow to document our encounter, the curious creature came even closer. Face to face with a magnificent muley, time stood still during an unforgettable nature moment. I’m not sure what he was thinking. Maybe he thought I had food for him or maybe he wondered why I was out in the middle of a snowstorm. Anyway, after close inspection, he went back to his herd and I went back to mine. An unexpected visitor Foraging for food Munching on shrubs Another harsh winter The curious creature Came closer Face to face with a muley A nature moment

San Rafael Desert - Lonely Land

San Rafael Swell Positioned just above the sacred Goblin Valley, the San Rafael Swell is a dramatic gateway to some of the best scenery the state of Utah has to offer. Desolate and devoid of life, this lonely stretch of land is more lively than you’d expect. Traveling west through Colorado, the big, blue and green mountains give way to brown mesas until you reach Grand Junction. From there into eastern Utah, the landscape becomes distinctly barren and beige book cliffs rise out of the sandy soil. Down around the town of Green River, things really start to look deserted as the terrain becomes flat and featureless with not even a single tree in sight. The desert becomes difficult to understand and you begin to feel like all is lost. Just when things look bleak, a narrow pass winds its way through a spiny ridge of jagged spires where the earth is uplifted and sculpted by a spectacular canyon. Placed above it all, a gigantic, pale sky overwhelms the pastel-colored plateau. We’

Winter Storm - A Lonesome Wilderness

Beaver Brook, Colorado Last week meteorologists issued a severe weather warning for Jefferson County. They projected a winter storm for us and asserted that it would progress in the usual, predictable pattern. That afternoon, a faint wind whispered through the treetops foretelling a frosty future. By morning, a spiraling system from the east had screamed into the Front Range foothills. Basking in mild temperatures, the mountain landscape dissolved into an opaque atmosphere of wet flakes. Still pretty in gray, the pine trees were coated with a glossy sheen of sparkling silver. The next day was much colder as pellets of fine powder were drizzled over the entire area. Rocky crags were capped with heavy snow and the evergreens were plastered in solid ice. It was utterly bone-chilling, hiking out in the open meadow. Luckily, we discovered that once inside the insulated forest, there was a natural, geothermal warmth. By day three, the storm had passed and clouds cleared but a