Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breakfast at Goosenecks State Park...

was spent in the company of this fellow (click images to enlarge):

But the real focus of my attention was the deeply incised San Juan River, more than 1,100 ft from rim to river, flowing lazily through the tortuous meanders that inspire the name of this viewpoint:

Most of the stratigraphic section you see in this image is comprised of the Honaker Trail Formation (Pennsylvanian).  In fact, the type section is a short distance down canyon from this vantage point, and in 2006, I hiked the trail down to the river and back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Muley Point offers a commanding view...

of the deeply incised San Juan River canyon, with Monument Valley in Arizona on the distant skyline (click images to enlarge):

Various lichens create a painted and textured surface on a block of tilted sandstone:

I spent the night here alone, in grandstand seats, watching the light change across the dynamic natural mural before me:

Later, to the west and toward the setting Sun, storm clouds grew and dropped curtains of rain, making for a colorful end of the day:


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Enter Owl and exit Fish Canyon...

was the plan as I set off on a two-day solo backpack exploration of a remote part of the Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah.  Here I am in a rare self portrait taking the first steps on the 17 mile-long trail that would eventually loop back to the parked vehicle  (click images to enlarge):

It was no messing around from the start.  The drop into Owl Canyon was a plunge down steep slickrock, with the trail navigating around several large pour-offs, ultimately reaching the canyon bottom after about three miles:

At about five miles, the impressive Nevill's Arch (~ 80 ft high, ~ 140 ft wide) is encountered high in the canyon wall:

After rounding the so-called confluence between Owl and Fish Canyons (the water course in both was bone dry this time of year), I continued my walk until about 11 miles where I scratched out a simple bivy on a high sand bar:

This delicate yellow primrose opened in the night and provides a colorful treat in the cool morning air, but by mid-day will be wilted and baked in the sweltering sun:

On the second day of the hike several pools of water were encountered after heading further up-canyon in Fish, and given the exceptionally dry winter and spring in the area, must be sustained by springs:

A cairn marked the exit point, and the 600 ft climb/scramble to the rim went quickly, as did the last 1.5 miles to the trailhead, where I reached the car and cool drinks shortly after noon.  Next:  On to Muley Point!

RELATED:  Here's a good description of the route.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Natural Bridges National Monument...

is featured in my guidebook project, and so I spent a couple of days in the quest of representative images of this small and isolated park.  Lit by the setting sun, brilliant Indian paintbrush (genus Castilleja) ranks among my favorite wildflowers (click images to enlarge):

Owochomo Bridge may not technically be a natural bridge at all, but an arch, since it doesn't span a valley of erosion (a stream course).  Here the rock span (106 ft high, 180 ft wide) is seen beneath gathering storm clouds:

Multiple storms swept across the desert in the early evening, and this is the view from my hammock as an energetic  thunderstorm rumbled off to the west:

Lastly, here's a canyon rim view of Horsecollar Ruins:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Never miss an opportunity...

to explore a slot canyon. It's a lot like caving with all the climbing and scrambling, but without the ceiling.

So following that wise adage (which is my formulation, by the way) I planned to spend a half-day dropping into Frylette and Fry Canyons.  Here's a shot looking back across the first pool in Frylette, and since this is a solo expedition, I don't have anyone to place in the image for scale (click images to enlarge):

Here's a close-up view of mud curls, an extreme form of mudcracks, an important sedimentary structure that indicates subaerial dessication:

Spectacular cross-bedding is displayed everywhere in the canyon walls, in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone (Permian):

Here's the slot that drops into the deeper Fry Canyon, necessitating a short (~ 70 ft rappel):

RELATED:  Here's the beta on Fry Canyon.