First, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posts lately – no particular reason other than my utter dismay at our current political state. For my entire life, I have been proud to be a citizen of this country. I truly believed that this was the greatest country on earth – a beacon of freedom and democracy that stood as an example to other countries. That feeling was consistently validated during every one of my foreign travels – people routinely expressed their admiration of our liberty and our institutions as they lamented their own country’s corruption and inability to serve “the people”. In six short months that admiration has turned to scorn and ridicule as we have swiftly lost the credibility that was dearly earned through our (mostly) principled behaviour on the international stage. At the same time, here at home, our white house occupant continues to offer empty promises to his electorate (he never speaks of the majority of the country who didn’t vote for him) without a clue on how to achieve them. Somehow we are supposed to believe that his imagined victories over his enemy of the day and his unending placing of blame (on anyone other than himself) is a good substitute for actually serving the nation. In his own words, it is indeed “sad”. Sorry for the rant but I thought I’d express my dis-satisfaction before turning to more positive thoughts.
One of the most satisfying experiences in my life of late was a 16 day trip down the full length of the Grand Canyon. Believe me, at least some of that satisfaction was due to the lack of communication with the outside world and a respite from the White House’s fright show. But one of the other extreme joys was the opportunity to take morning hikes in the canyon. Often these hikes led us upward to incredible vantage points and vistas where the sheer beauty was overwhelming. Combined with the exertion of climbing and rock hopping up the trails, we were treated to that wonderful feeling of physical well-being at the same time we were experiencing the wonders of mother nature. I chose this particular photo from one of those hikes as a great example of that satisfaction. I actually left our hiking group at this spot just so that I could enjoy the solitude, quiet, and magnificent view here as the sun started to fill the canyon.
I just recently returned from 16 days on a Dory trip down the entire length of the Grand Canyon. The trip was remarkable with changing scenes and moods around every bend in the circuitous meandering of the river. I’ve chosen the photo above as an example of one of those fleeting scenes. The sun just peeking over the canyon, the clouds providing some change overhead, and the quickly advancing rays of the sun greeting the canyon and a dry wash littered with rocks – all of these added to this quick flash in time – never to be seen again in this exact form. I was glad I was able to capture it and keep that morning alive in my (and hopefully your) mind.
If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon you probably know that many people get vertigo if they get too close to the edge – it can be a very disconcerting feeling. I’ve been there with several folks who couldn’t get within 20 feet of the edge. It never really bothered me too much and it definitely didn’t effect this young lady who perched herself on a small pinnacle on one of the trails into the canyon. It was a hazy hot day with muted colors so I liked the effect better in B&W – hope you enjoy…..
My entry to the week’s photo challenge. As we were taking a break from hiking the Kaibob trail in the Grand Canyon a few weeks back, I started to take a photo of a common rock squirrel – then I noticed that I could also see a mule train coming up the distant trail below. By changing my angle a little bit and zooming in, it became (in my mind at least) a photo of the notorious Outlaw Squirrel observing the wagon train below and getting ready for the ambush – a scene played out in countless western movies – though not necessarily by squirrels. Hope you enjoy – “the Ambush”.
On the other hand this could just be one of those NSA surveillance squirrels….
After our climb out of the canyon we had a chance to shower and then headed out to catch a view of the canyon from the top around sunset. After an active and busy day hiking, it made the sunset view even more spectacular and serene. The end to a wonderful day….
The hike out was interesting – 10 miles uphill to the rim. Our outfitters had obviously done this before and got us up early (4:30…..AM!) to break camp so we could have an early breakfast while they packed everything up to be carried out by the mules. After breakfast we were able to start our trek whenever we were ready with the guides bringing up the rear to make sure we didn’t lose anyone. We all had a liesurely uphill climb to the Indian village of Supai which was just waking up but the horses and mules were already on the move to start the day of hauling supplies up and down the canyon.
We arrived at the town a little too late for good lighting on “the Watchers”, the pinnacles overlooking the village but I wanted to get at least one shot of them as we were leaving….
The really nice thing about our early departure was that most of the hike was in the shadows of the canyon. Unfortunately, the final mile and half ascent was mostly in the sun and it was starting to get warmer – but all of that was easily eclipsed by the continued amazing scenery and ambience of the Canyon. This “paintingized” photo is my wife Dee on the hike out as we approached the climb up the butte that you can see on the left side of the photo.
Since this week’s photo challenge left it pretty open for interpretation, I’ll try to show a an interpretation of “room to roam”. This is kind of a self serving interpretation as we have recently returned from a roam through the southwestern national parks. I chose this photo because it provides a glimpse of the incredible scale of the Grand Canyon – it is always hard to get a good photograph that shows that immensity. I should mention that I also processed this photo as a painting within photoshop because it is hard for me to put the Canyon in context without considering it as an amazing work of natural art….
OBTW – this was taken near the desert view area of the canyon at the east end of the park.
I thought I’d continue the description of our time in the Grand Canyon with a few scenes from near our campsite. The first shot was actually taken just after breakfast from our camp – the rising sun lit the western wall of “our” pocket canyon turning the upper rocks a vivid reddish orange. We had been watching as the moon slowly sunk toward the top of the canyon and marveled as it approached this notch in the rocks….it was almost as if someone had planned it….
After breakfast, we hiked to Mooney Falls – the largest in the area at about 200′. We descended down an almost vertical path which became a cave within the rocks. We navigated through a variety of steps, footholds, and even chains to provide something to grab on to. Finally, at the bottom, we came back out into the open air onto a “ladder” of wooden steps. It was kind of challenging but all in our group managed to get down without incident (and climbed out again later….). At the bottom we were treated to this sight – I took this at a slow shutter speed to smooth out the falls but also managed to get a few “ghosts” as people moved around. I also wanted to point out the incredible rock formations carved in the side of the cliff – it was amazing how much it looked like a sculpture.
We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring some beautiful slot canyons and enjoyed playing in the turquoise waters of the pools and falls formed along the stream. Here’s a photo of our friend Ellen trying to catch me catching her…..
Another magical day!
Not sure if this fits the challenge intent but here is one that certainly says twist to me. We’ve been in and around the Grand Canyon for the last few days. As any deranged (“twisted”) photographer would do, I got up at 4:30 am on two days to try and catch some good sunrise photos. As it happens there were a few low clouds and smoke from the Flagstaff/Sedona fires obscuring the first rays of sunlight so I tried some other types of photos. One of the things that caught my eye was a juniper tree out on a point looking back into the sunrise, I also was able to line up another juniper in the foreground to get some additional twisty branches. These two trees against the backlit and diffused sunrise provided this unusual “twist” on a Grand Canyon photograph. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/twist/