Bryce Canyon National Park: Peekaboo Loop

Peekaboo Loop Panorama, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The Peekaboo Loop trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is an instant favorite. Mile for mile this half day hike has more mind blowing, jaw dropping scenery than any other trail this length I can think of. I'm sure there are times when this trail sees heavy traffic, but midweek in mid February I practically had the place to myself.

Hoodoos and Snow, Peekaboo Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

In "Hoodoos and Snow", simplification of composition is achieved by isolation of elements of the scene through lens choice and camera placement. The more simplified, more elemental images often seem more personal in such iconic wide view places as Bryce. This image of Bryce is mine; the wide view from the rim, not so much. One reason I highly recommend the Peekaboo Loop is, it gets you up close and personal with the hoodoos; an experience much different than walking along the rim.

Wall of Windows, Peekaboo Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The Peekaboo Loop can be accessed at the top by a steep trail coming down from the rim at Inspiration Point, or at the bottom, by a short connector trail coming from the bottom of the Navajo Loop/Queens Garden trail junction. Because it's more difficult to access, I would imagine traffic is always less than the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden trails. The loop itself is not level, but climbs and descends several times as you climb in and out of several canyons between fins of hoodoos. I'm assuming the trail is named for those moments when you climb to a pass on a fin, walk between hoodoos, and a new world is revealed in the next drainage.

Lone Pine at Sunset, Peekaboo Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

This was only my second trip to Bryce Canyon National Park. Which makes Bryce my least visited Utah National Park, by a long shot. Less than four hours from my front door, not sure what kept me away. Maybe it was the thought that it's a small park without a lot of hiking. Probably aught to hike the trails there are before deciding there's not enough hiking. After this trip to Bryce if feel like I owe it to myself to go back soon.

Post Sunset Glow, Another View from the Peekaboo Loop

Learning from Generation Selfie

Self Portrait, Mill B North Fork Trail, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

One of my favorite images from last year and a good example of the influence Instagram has had on my photography. In the last three years I've put myself in the frame significantly more often than the thirteen years previous. I think the reason I've been more open to those opportunities has a lot to do with the photographers I follow on Instagram. An increased exposure to images of tiny people in giant landscapes has helped me tune-in to situations were that sense of scale provided by the human form makes setting my self timer seem like the appropriate thing to do.

Isle Royale National Park: Duotones

Isle Royale First Impression: After a couple of hours crossing open water, we get our first look at the park, and the first impression is just as wild and mysterious as we'd imagined.

Coyote Gulch: April 2016

Spring waterfall, Coyote Gulch, Glen Canyon NRA, Utah

It had been several life changes since I'd made my one and only trip into Coyote Gulch with my good friend Ken. It wasn't the stunning beauty or the idyllic camping that kept me away, but the canyon's reputation as one of the most popular in all of southern Utah.

In Steve Allen's book, Canyoneering 3, he warns, "Spring brings an overwhelming number of people into the canyon". The Park Service hasn't set any limits on the number of people to enter the drainage, but has set strict regulations for camping in Coyote Gulch; including no fires, and the directive to pack out ALL solid waste!

Well, it was spring, and with the help of a dicey forecast to keep the hordes away, I decided to head down to Coyote Gulch to see what I'd been missing.

Self portrait in alcove, Coyote Gulch, Utah

Coyote Gulch has soaring walls and a sculpted streambed.

I'd Rather Be Backpacking

Backpackers at Lake Blanche, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

Serendipity smiled on me this late August evening. I had just returned to Lake Blanche after spending the evening avoiding the well worn Sundial Peak reflecting in Lake Blanche at sunset image.

It's not that there aren't slight twists, and not because it's not a slam dunk every time you get some decent light, it is. This isn't a promise to never shoot it again either, but that image doesn't help me grow as an artist.

So, in search of something more personal, I wandered down to the other two lakes, and ended up finding a cool little spot in the rock ribs north of Lake Lilian that avoided that sweet sunset light all together. Doh.

It did feel like artistic growth to go to this beautiful place I feel intimately familiar with, seek out something new and unique, and execute an image I deemed worthy of sharing. Using my artistic powers to isolate and arrange; using universal natural elements to express something entirely personal about the beauty of this place that isn't seen in a passing glance, felt good.

Sill, I couldn't help but feel a little melancholy as I climbed back up to Lake Blanche in the afterglow of sunset. I had made a few good images, but I didn't feel like I had made a slam dunk. Worse, I had missed out on some pretty great light.

When I got back to Lake Blanche, I immediately dropped down to lake level. Maybe I could still get a nice long exposure of the Sundial reflected in the lake, lit by the fading light of the western sky, I thought.

When I found the composition I wanted, I dropped my pack and pulled out my camera. Just then, two backpackers crested the ridge behind me and paused for a few seconds; just long enough for me to capture their silhouettes and my most evocative image of the evening.

Intimate landscape near Lake Lilian, Twin Peaks Wilderness, Utah

High Uintas Wilderness: Red Castle Lakes

Red Castle Lake, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Red Castle Lake, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Last Stand, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Last Stand, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Mega Fauna, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Mega Fauna, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

The Classic, Lower Red Castle Lake, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

The Classic, Lower Red Castle Lake, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

The first week of July, I finally made it to Red Castle Lakes in Utah's High Uintas Wilderness. This place had been on my radar for at least a decade, but for whatever reason (maybe because the trailhead is two and a half to three hours from Salt Lake City) it wasn't a priority until a couple of weeks ago.

I decided to take the Bald Mountain route from the Cache trailhead. This is the most direct route into the upper Smiths Fork River drainage; only ten miles to Red Castle Lake. The Bald Mountain Trail boasts spectacular views as you skirt the east side of Bald Mountain and walk the broad ridge towards Squaw peak. The price: an immediate and steep climb and the knowledge that you'll have to climb back up to Bald Mountain after dropping into upper Smiths Fork.

The Cache trailhead start saves a mile of walking from the East Fork Blacks Fork trailhead, where there is a bridge, by fording the river. It was an inauspicious start to the trip when the first thing I did after missing the trail was fall in the river. On the bright side, I was passed the deep part when I slipped and was able to hold my shoes and socks mostly above the water as I fell.

I was impressed that my old Kelty backpack didn't let much water in and my new Kelty Ignite Dri Down bag stayed dry, as promised. Unbiased plug for Kelty brand outdoor gear. Kelty, if you're reading this, I'd be happy to review any gear you'd like to send me. ;-)

At first I didn't even realize I was off the trail. I just started following a dirt road towards the river, from the trail crossing sign on the East Fork Blacks Fork road. I didn't even see the nondescript trail cutting east just past a well used campsite maybe a hundred yards from the main road. I wasted a little bit of time and energy making my way over and around fallen timber as I cut across the mountainside, before intersecting the trail on a long steep switchback.

The rest of my hike was less eventful. Mostly just contending with jaw dropping views and infinite mosquitoes; and trying to create some images that could express some fraction of the beauty I was experiencing.  Next time I backpack in to Red Castle Lakes, I'm going in September and/or I'm taking a mosquito head net. Seriously, the mosquitoes were relentless.


Red Castle, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Red Castle, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah

Downtown SLC Farmers Market 2015

The Pfeifferhorn above Maybird Cirque, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

The Pfeifferhorn above Maybird Cirque, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

What would the season be, without the downtown Salt Lake City Farmers Market? I know I can't stand the thought of not being there. So...I'll be setting up my booth June 20th, July 18th, August 15th, and September 12th.

This Saturday, June 20th, find me at the southwest corner of Pioneer Park from 8 am till 2 pm. I'll be offering a wide selection of photographic prints, including one-of-a-kind transfer prints on paper, stone, wood, and metal.

These photos are my freshest produce, captured yesterday morning high in Maybird Gulch. "The Pfeifferhorn above Maybird Cirque" is a composite of five vertical images, each overlapping by about fifty percent. This technique allows me to go wider than my widest angle lens, without over emphasizing the foreground, and works well in a place like this, where you want to pack a lot of real estate into a single image.

Now that's a knife-edge ridge, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

Now that's a knife-edge ridge, Lone Peak Wilderness, Utah

Boulder Creek, May 2015