Utah 2011

July 19-26, 2011

This year, in addition to my Hawaii trip in February, I decided to take a trip to Utah for monsoon season. I have tried to take this trip before, however, the timing was never right before. There was always something that kept me from going, but this year, I managed to go. The tour was made up of a few friends I had toured with before and a couple new ones. 4 of our group had traveled out ahead of time. Me and one other touree flew into Denver. Mark was just dropping off the people from one tour when he picked us up and headed out on the next. I really enjoyed getting to say hello to a few friends as they were departing the previous tour. We dropped John off at the train depot and then headed back to the airport to get Jack. Then the 3 of us headed for Moab, UT. Our accomodations were great. We had 2 vacation homes, side by side. The first photos below (after the B&W were takein our first day, as we neared Moab. The Fisher Towers and surrounding area. Our first full day on tour, we hit Dead Horse Point to start off the day. Our next stop was Mesa Arch.
One afternoon, we took a trip to False Kiva. This is an old indian ruin located after a nice little hike. In researching this area, the internet had indicated that it was a difficult treacerous hike. However, the hike wasn't bad at all and I didn't really notice anything too difficult. We took a few shots and then most of us headed back to the trailhead and off to shoot the Green River Overlook. Although the sunset colors were beautiful, the rim lighting around the edge stole the show.

As I was moving from side to side, taking a few shots at the overlook, I noticed the glow on the edges of some of the rock below me. I got a few shots off before the light disappeared.

Our next morning we headed off to Arches National Park. We started off at Turret Arch.

One afternoon, we decided to hike out to Corona Arch. It was about 1.5 mile hike back to the arch. Just before arriving at Corona Arch, we stopped to take a few shots of BowTie Arch.
That evening, we headed back to Arches National Park and took a few shots as the sun was setting. Then, we stuck around at Skyline Arch to take a few star shots. You can see a meteor in one of the shots. Turning slightly away from Skyline Arch, we were able to photograph the Milky Way. We used a flashlight to "paint" the arch and provide a little detail. After shooting at this location, we moved on to an area in Arches called Park Avenue. We started off "painting" a little bit, however, we soon found out that the moon was providing us a great deal of light on the cliffs, so we only painted a little bit of the shadows. The big dipper was just above the rock formations.
Our next morning, in Arches National Park, we went to photograph Turret Arch through North Window. When we got to the window, we found a family sitting in the window, waiting for sunrise. Fortunately, the were very nice and offered to move out of our shots. Mark responded to them and said their experience was just as important as ours and we wouldn't ask them to move. They still volunteered and came over to our side of the window. After that, we only had to contend with the people that came up to the window as we photographed. It was funny though, everybody came up and saw all of the group on our side, and moved over to that side, allowing us wonderful access to the view. The first shots are during the edge of dawn. Once the sun started coming up and sitting the window, we started photographing. A very good friend of mine that was photographing beside me, was rather disappointed that the window did not completely light up, due to the position of the sun this time of year. I kinda liked it, it was different and I really liked the mix of light and shadow on the window as well as on Turret Arch through the window.
North Window and South Window are part of what is called the Spectacles. That afternoon, we headed to Monument Valley. We checked into our hotel in Mexican Hat, had dinner at the hotel, and then 4 of us headed out to Monument Valley. I snapped a few shots as we toured around. We got back up to the main parking area just before sunset and were able to take some nice shots as the sun set.
Our next day, we took a hike out to House on Fire. Another Indian Ruins area in Mule Canyon. As we hiked back, we were surprised to find a few different kinds of wildflowers. The first ones are one of my favorites, Indian Paintbrush. The 2nd were these yellow flowers that we found along the water areas. One the way back a few hours later, I noticed that the flowers were completely closed up. If we hadn't seen them on the way out, we would have never known they were there.
Our next park was Capitol Reef. We shot at Panorama Point that evening for sunset. The following day, we explored the park. We started out at the Capitol Reef Dome for sunrise and then just moved about the park some. Even in the desert, I had to take the opportunity to get into the water. Jack, who had not met me before, saw that I was soaked when I got back to the car and laughed a little bit. He commented to Mark that he was surprised someone didn't get a photo of me in the water. Mark just laughed and said that wasn't anything out of the ordinary, I was always in the water!
The Great American Lizard Hunt! Our 2 cars split up and went off in different directions. We stopped at one place so Jack could shoot a few shots of this old schoolhouse. As we were there, we started trying to find some lizards to shoot. We were able to scare up a few. As we were looking for lizards, I noticed this fly. That afternoon, we were off to Cathedral Valley. This was going to be the "wild" part of our trip. We were actually planning to "camp" out under the stars. There was plenty of beautiful scenery on the way out to our "camping" spot. Our camping spot was pretty much just where we parked the trucks. I got the "deluxe" accomodations...I got to stretch out in the back of the pickup truck bed. The other carful, slept in the car seats and Mark slept in the front seat of the truck, while Jack decided to go for a hike to find a place to stretch out. He found a rock to stretch out on, the warmth still coming off the rock from the day's sunshine. Must have been comfortable because he apparently slept right through our sunrise shoot!!!
After sunset, most of our group was talking to another photographer that was out there who was getting ready to fly a motorized helicopter. A couple of us started talking about Yellowstone. I had a movie on Yellowstone on my iPad, so we sat on the tailgate and started watching "Thunderbeast", a move about the bison in Yellowstone. It was kinda like a mini drive in movie....until Mark said it was time to go shoot. Then I hopped down and grabbed my camera and equipment and we all headed out to shoot the stars over Temple of the Moon.
We shot sunrise the next morning in Cathedral Valley and then headed back to Capitol Reef.
During the day, it was beginning to look like we might actually get some storms...the reason we had planned to come this time of year. I was wanting some lightning shots and some shots of storms over the arches. It's funny, this is probably the first tour I was hoping for rain and storms...but naturally for most of the trip, we had blue skies and sunshine. Our last night, I finally got a chance to shoot a few lightning shots. Mark, Jack, and I followed the storms, heading back to the hotel, and pulled over beside the road to finally shoot some lightning.

Our last morning, we shot at Goblin Valley State Park. After shooting the Goblin Valley, Mark, Jack, Tom, and I headed back to the Denver Airport. Along the way, we stopped by to see a friend of ours, who had a photography exhibit on display at the college library where she worked. We took some time and enjoyed viewing the exhibit and visiting with Nicole. Then we were off to the airport. They dropped me off and then went on their way. That night, they had lots of storms and lightning to photograph, while I waited at the airport.

All in all, although I didn't get the monsoons I was expecting, it was a great trip. I've made so many friends on these tours, and this one was no exception. I made a great new friend that I hope to travel more with and I saw some beautiful areas of the country that I had never seen before. Each tour is a chance to reconnect with friends. This was my 19th Lightchase Photography tour! Thanks for everything Mark! Stay tuned for #20, Nova Scotia coming up later this year!