Info

A personal blog of photography and commentary by Andrew McAllister.

Posts tagged western landscapes

The third and final day of the 2013 Cruise Moab Kokopelli Overnighter. Today our group would drive Rose Garden Hill, Thompson Canyon and Polar Mesa and then into Moab. However Sean and I would have an unexpected twist in our journey and have to break off from the group and return to Moab via one of my favorite locations: Onion Creek Road.
20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_330

Above: My choice of camp spot (the blue tent) had me up early with the sun. Within an hour everybody was up and getting ready to go.

Rose Garden Hill

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

Sean and the Dinoot trailer handle the first steep section with ease.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_056

This section of the trail had a few off camber climbs (above) before a long gentle descent (below).

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_068

The tippy section of the trail. This was a somewhat easy section compared to the Rose Garden Hill section.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

The Fun Treks Guidebook states that this section pictured below can be tricky in wet conditions. Not a problem today but would hate to be out here in a downpour.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_117

Getting closer to Rose Garden Hill. The flat section below has a bit of a drop off on the drivers side. Just around the bend our group would stop for lunch and to assess the trail condition. A few jeeps were there when we arrived and we watched them struggle down the hill.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_134

Ace and Sandy spot Sean down the top section of Rose Garden Hill.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_163

Jonathan spots Sean through a particularly bouldery section (below).

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

Jonathan spots Darius down a section of Rose Garden Hill.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

Ace descents a ledge like a champ (below). I think he has done this a few times before…

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

Sean returns the favor and spots our trip leader Jonathan down the hill.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

Jonathan and his family descending Rose Garden Hill with an Adrenalin Camper. Check out the wheels on the LandCruiser.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

After all the vehicles were safely at the bottom and via the wonders of onboard refrigerator/freezers had an ice-cream snack before continuing on.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

The famous Rose Garden Hill from the base. Does not look so bad…

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail

After the break we headed toward Fisher Valley and Polar Mesa. After the Rose Garden Hill section we just completed the rest of the trip would seem like a cakewalk.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_324

After a mile or so of trail with inter dispersed rocks and curves the road straitened out as we approached Fisher Valley (below). We would continue on through Thompson Canyon and up to Polar Mesa at a good pace stopping once for the group to catch up at an intersection before moving on. The combination of our pace and the fact that I had filled my camera’s cards resulted in no pictures from this leg of the trip.

20130502_Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli Trail_325

A good hour or so into this final leg of the trip when the group had stopped and Jonathan was talking to us Sean noticed his prescription glasses were missing. We searched the truck and the areas we had walked in to no avail. A decision was made to break off from the group and retrace our path in search of the lost glasses. We did not have many hours left of daylight so we made good time back to the places we had stopped. Nothing was found at the Fisher Valley intersection so back to the Rose Garden Hill it was. Not unlike finding a needle in a haystack, it was daunting to look up the bolder strewn hill and think they could be found. Long story short, Sean had remembered falling at a point about 2/3 the way up the hill and it was there that he found the glasses on a rock. He theorized that someone found them in the trail and set them on a rock out of harms way knowing that whoever lost them would eventually return looking for them. Pretty amazing that we made it back and found them with about 40 minutes of light to spare.

Cruise Moab 2013 Kokopelli TrailSo this 3 day Kokopelli Trail run with the Book Cliff Cruisers ended well with lots of adventure, new trail friends and a couple of stories. For me it was a great opportunity to see some new parts of Utah, learn about reading the trail and seeing where a well equipped vehicle can take you. It also renewed my respect for the rugged landscape and those who cut the original trails, and was great to be apart of a group of drivers that followed the principles of tread-lightly and stayed on the established trails. This year we are slated to do the San Rafael Swell overnighter and it looks to be quite an adventure through some beautiful, remote and rugged landscape. Naturally a blog post or two will be in the works.

 

Hunter Power Plant from Ghost Rock

Above: Huntington Power Plant from Ghost Rocks Viewpoint along I-70 in Southern Utah.

Updated (3/16/13) from Wikipedia “The highway then ascends Ghost Rock Summit, the highest point for I-70 inside the swell. At the summit is another view area overlooking the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael River.The summit is named for unusual rock formations nearby. The Ghost Rocks themselves are at 7,405 feet (2,257 m), although the freeway is slightly lower.” Read the whole article on building I-70 through Utah here. 

20130209_Ghost_Rocks_Viewpoint_010

Above: Cloudburst above Castle Valley Utah.


San Rafael Reef in Southern UtahAbove: I-70 road cut at the San Rafael Reef in Southern Utah. To avoid a snow storm on Soldier Summit I decided to take I-70 for my return route from Moab last month. What a good decision it was. The San Rafael Reef is visible from my usual route (Utah 191 from Price) but I had never been this close. If you are traveling I-70 through this area plan extra time to stop at all of the scenic overlooks, they are well worth it. Taking this route greatly expanded my desire to explore Southern Utah. Expect more information and photos from this amazing part of the state.

San Rafael Reef in Southern UtahAbove: Detail of the road cut at the San Rafael Reef. Didactics at the rest area explain the massive project to widen a slot canyon into the modern highway we travel today.

San Rafael Reef in Southern Utah

Above: I-70 Rest Area at the base of the San Rafael Reef. Photographers would be crazy not to stop.Book Cliffs from the San Rafael Reef in Southern Utah

Above: Looking toward the Book Cliffs from the San Rafael Reef.

How many of you have been to this part of Southern Utah?

Top images from 2012 and a little info behind their selection.20120102_Whites Valley Utah_020Above: Whites Valley in Northern Utah. An introduction to a different western landscape and the beginning of my exploration Northern Utah and Idaho. Looking forward to exploring the gem state in 2013 and have 4 trips planned already.

Simpson Springs Station.

Above: Simpson Springs Station on the Pony Express Trail in the West Desert of Utah, from a journey I’ll do again this year with the UXOC. This is a beautiful and remote area that I’d love to explore more, maybe pulling a camper from Moby 1.Preston Grain Silo

Above: Preston, Idaho on a sunny Sunday morning January 2012 and the start of a project looking at small western towns and structures that define place. In this case it was the grain elevator that defined entering Preston and unfortunately it was destroyed by fire a month later.Downey Idaho

Above: Weston, Idaho and another grain elevator. This one looks particularly church like. I revisited Weston in December and the sign and pole have been removed. Time moves on even in small towns.20120413_Mantua_027

Above: Mantua, Utah spring 2012. At the time I took this the space reminded me of Iceland. Looking at it now it is nothing like Iceland, trees for starters. Maybe it was the really green treeless hills and the rain snow mix of weather. I’ll settle for exotic looking and not what you expect for a Utah landscape. FWIW locals pronounce Mantua as “Man Away”.

Road along the Bear River

Above: Near Cutler Reservoir early spring 2012. Jetsons-looking power pole in a barren landscape carved by man for irrigation.Beef Basin

Above: Near the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Trying to get a feel for how massive these formations are (look at the fence at the base).20120805_Floy_Utah_008

Above: Ranch Exit at Floy, Utah. Grey lumps in the barren landscape just north of I-70. Composed in a way that excludes the book cliffs and any of the red rock that southern Utah is famous for. People have commented on the texture of the grey earth looking elephant like.Driving the desert of Southern Utah

Above: from the base of the Book Cliffs looking toward Moab, Klondike Bluff and the Manti La Sal Mountains. From a solo trip to Moab in early August 2012.20120804_Onion Creek Road_048

Above: Onion Creek Road near Moab. Look for more images from this area in the coming year. Lots to explore and photograph. This was taken on my first trip on the road and as it was getting dark I made my way back to the main road. Not being familiar with the road, alone, and without additional illumination on the Xterra. Why risk driving off the road in the dark? 20121021_Caribou National Forest_039Above: Open road on Skyline Drive near Weston Canyon in Caribou National Forest. From a day of photographing open roads near the Utah-Idaho border in late October and my last trip on this road before it was closed for the season. As I was taking these images I came across three moose; a nice way to end a day of solitary photography. Work kept me busy the rest of the year and so this is where my 2012 season of photography ended. Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

Thanks to everyone who liked a post, made a comment, nominated me for an award or became a follower of Looking at the West.

Driving the desert of Southern UtahAbove: Thompson Pass looking toward Moab. If you look close you can see Crescent Junction and State Highway 191. This is from the base of the Book Cliffs looking South. The road is a nice little side trip if barren landscape, boulders and the occasional Antelope is your thing (it’s mine). I read that somewhere along the Book Cliffs a Tar Sand extraction operation is starting up. Mixed feeling on that. Anyone know the exact location? I’d like to do a before and after shot if it’s lot to late.

Fall color, Blacksmith Fork Canyon in Northern Utah

I have a history with looking up in my photography that started a dozen or so years ago when my friend Jason Byers encouraged me to get closer and exaggerate the perspective of Cleveland skyscrapers. As a result my approach to large objects has always had two competing views. One that says step as far back as necessary to make absolutely sure the perspective is correct and the other that says get too close and look up. To get the perspective correct I use a tilt and shift lens when possible and correct perspective in photoshop for images taken with non PC lenses. For years I have been very comfortable with the way I see the world and what I want to photograph in it. Lately I have been experimenting with selective focus via tilting the lens as a way to creatively stretch they way I look at things. The images in this post a outside of my comfort zone photographically in two ways, one being that I don’t shoot fall color landscapes. They have not been of interest until I moved to Utah and I’m still not sure what I think beyond the color. The second thing that takes me out of my comfort zone is the play of focus. The lens tilt makes things look as if the are miniature and is best accomplished by looking down on the subject. However with the above shot I am clearly looking up. I enjoy the confusion that it causes. The western landscapes is huge and are always photographed to emphasize the size. However this stretch of mine is forcing these huge thing to appear way smaller than they are and thus subvert their western-ness.

Below is a more traditional angle of view using the tilt effect. Most photographers are aware that these effects can be accomplished in newer versions of Photoshop and many iOS apps however I personally would recommend using the lens itself. There is something about committing to the focus area you are interested in and locking that in the RAW file that gives the stretch impact. The lenses are available to rent from Borrow Lenses dot com and Lens Rentals dot com. 

Fall color, Logan Canyon in Northern Utah

Fall color is in full swing here in Utah. Hope everyone is out enjoying it, I know I am. Last year I missed most of it due to travel so this is my first real Utah fall. It is amazing! In the coming weeks I’ll be posting more fall color, images from the Tetons, another Moab trip and an entirely new series. Hope to get things caught up before it starts snowing. Have fun exploring your world!