Utah, Fall 2003

This year’s trip was very unique, and will be hard to document in way that is interesting, and does such an adventure justice. My immediate reaction is to throw up a ton of images and just write “look where I went”.

This years adventure started during the California Wildfires. Friends and family homes located in the San Bernardino Mountains were danger as we left and not all the news we had was good. My brother and I piled into his Four Runner under the smoke filled dawn and made the eight-hour drive to Zion National Park in Utah.

Since we had just over a days wait for our companions for the trip. My brother and I did several hikes out and around the main canyon in Zion while we waited for my photography partner and good friend John Farkas and his wife Abby to arrive.

A quick hike up to the Emerald Pools left us with a great view, but view great photographic opportunities. The quick moving white clouds above gave us great-diffused light, but this light would quickly vanish and made composing and hit and miss venture. That evening, we dropped in on Michael Fatali, and were fortunate enough to get a tour of his dark room and a little map review as well. Thanks Michael!

After losing a day to travel, we awoke near Dance Hall Rock in the Escalante Wilderness. After a morning breakfast we loaded up our backpacks and head out across the sand trail towards “Crack in the Wall”. “Crack in the Wall” is a “Class 2” rock scamper. Since we didn’t know that this really was, we didn’t worry too much as we hiked closer towards the canyon wall. We hiked over prehistoric petrified dunes, dried water pools, and cow trails as we edged ever closer towards the infamous “Crack in the Wall”.

“Crack in the Wall” is perhaps the most descriptive named structure that I have run across to date. A narrow crack in the towering canyon walls was formed by a large section of stone cleaving away from wall. Perhaps one of the more interesting hiking trails I have seen, we removed our heavy frame backpacks, broke out our rope, and quickly lowered the packs past the narrowest section of the trail. Another twenty minutes of hiking found us near the Escalante River. Light danced on the canyon walls, and reflections glowed in the shallow creek as we explored the canyons looking for the light.

After a three-hour hike out of the canyons of the Escalante River, we planned our next days excursion. The decided to head east down the John Burr trail and towards Capital Reef National Park. The Burr Trail is a nice paved windy road that is perhaps one of the most scenic roads I have traveled. We stopped many times on our travels this find day, as the diffused light was booming. Water carved towers of rock illuminated by the soft Utah sun passed by as we drove deeper and deeper into Capital Reef.

Another day of driving took us back towards Los Angeles. We were sad to see our expedition coming to a close, but time was against us. However, we still found time to visit a slot canyon just a few miles away from our route. We certainly could not pass this opportunity

Round Valley Draw slot canyon opens up in a streambed after a very short hike from the trailhead. We walked down the side of the canyon to survey the canyon before lowering ourselves deep into the heart of the Earth. I have stated it previously, but walking a slot canyon is a magical experience. Time, Water, and Sand carve these beautiful canyons for us to visit, and you just cannot appreciate this place until you have been there.

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