Escalante is a dreamy little village on spectacular Utah Highway 12, featuring a great little restaurant in the annex of the outdoor outfitter store. For some, this place is just a stop at the most scenic portion of the highway, for others the place to begin an exploration of the many slot canyons nearby.
Our destination was Dry Fork Trailhead, a 30 minute drive away on a bearable dirt road (Hole-In-The-Rock Road). Bring plenty of water.
There are four slot canyons accessible from this trail head. They are all long and narrow. We went through one of them, forth and back, because we couldn’t get up the steep boulders at the end. It would have been easier to enter at the other end at slide down.
But only in retrospect: These canyons are really narrow, and you should never make a move that you cannot undo.
Often one has to wedge oneself through, trying various body positions. I wonder how many people get seriously stuck there.
Small occasional caverns let you take a break and rearrange your limbs. I found that the most unreal part about this place is that I actually fit through. This doesn’t happen in real life.
Don’t forget to save some water for the long hike back.
A little while ago I posted a few pictures from the Grand Gulch in Utah. This year, almost to the day, it is 25 years ago that I went there with a few hiking friends from Berkeley.
One of them is now Math Professor in Utah. I don’t know the fate of the others in the picture. I see him occasionally at conferences.
Pictures like the ones above are misleading. The gulch is mostly a narrow canyon, and if you think there is an exit just around the corner, it is a dead end.
There is water, but not much. Seeing a stream like the one below is rare and means you better fill your water bottles.
The week long hike leaves ample time to contemplate the beauty of natural walls.
The first three days of my Winter Break excursion to Mexico in 1993 I spent in Mexico City, and one of them in Teotihuacan.
By bus it takes about an hour to get there. I should have arrived much earlier, to beat the crowds and have better light. One of the most fascinating aspects of this place is how little we know about it.
It had been abandoned by about 700 CE, reaching a population well over 100,000 before. The reasons? We don’t know. Who lived there? We don’t know. Of course there are speculations and theories.
What fascinates me is the discrepancy between the longevity of what’s preserved and the fragility of what is gone. Did they care what would survive? If we knew we’d be gone in a century, would we care to leave something behind?
Would it be art, pomp, or an attempt of a message?
Perhaps it should just be a vision: This is how we liked it to be. This was us.
The canyonesque nature of the Fern Canyon State Park makes one forget that this place is next to the coast, which empasizes the contrast between the complexity of the ferns and the simplicity of the beachscape.
This is a place to enjoy the lack of presence, which has dissolved into a beautiful grainy gray.
Time passes gently,
and allows for modest reflection.
After the modest ferns from last week, let’s indulge. One of the places to be is the Fern Canyon in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which lies, alas, in Northern California.
Most people who make it into the coastal redwoods that far north don’t bother to take the windy detour to that state park and trail head. Here is what they miss.
The vertical walls of the short canyon are packed with ferns.
Their gentle motion is impossible to capture in a photograph.
At some places, they appear to float before a darker background.
After seeing this, you will keep dreaming of a house with walls like this.
That little town you can maybe make out to the left and behind the lake up above is Leadville. At just over 10,000 feet, it is the highest incorporated city in the US, and used to be a bustling mining town, as the name hints at.
There are attempts to cash in on the town’s history, like in charming Jerome.
But while the drive-through city center is well kept eye-candy, the mining area tells another story.
It doesn’t take long until things fall apart beyond repair…, but fortunately, sometimes they do this in style.
The aesthetic appeal is enormous, maybe because a true relic conveys a stronger message than a fake facade.
Getting to higher elevation in late spring is a problem in Colorado, not so much because of snow, but because of the streams with hip deep and ice cold water that one has to cross.
After a while one resigns into not reaching that peak or lake, and finds consolation in the contemplation of the trees on the other side of the stream.
I have written twice about treescapes: First about the fall at Red River Gorge State Park in Kentucky, and then about the winter in Brown County State Park. So now it is time for a spring version.
Green is a difficult color. When I make 2-colored surface images, I usually have a hard time picking a second color that complements any sort of green nicely. On the other hand, I find the natural shades of green in these landscapes positively overwhelming. My theory is that green goes well only with more green, or shades of gray.
These images are from an attempt to reach the Flat Tops Wilderness. There will be another time.