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Brothers, not twins

 

Red Rock Canyon has a bit of a deceiving name.  Unlike Zion or Grand Canyon, there is not one distinct canyon running through the middle of the park.  Instead, it is a long linear steep cliff with canyons that disect the cliff in several places.  From the road, the geology gives the impression that these canyons would be much the same.  Venture in, however, and all the differences become apparent.  Some have water beyond the mouth of the canyon, but can be dry well into the canyon.  Year round water in some, but dry creek bottoms are more common.  Waterfalls can be found in most canyons, seasonally, but there are no real similarities between them.  Brothers, not twins.

 

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, cliffs, Steve Bruno

 

The trails into the canyons are similar – hike about a mile or so in open desert until you reach the mouth of the canyon, then follow the path of least resistance.  The official trails don’t really go into the canyons, so following the wash bottoms is the route further in.  Eventually, there is a bunch of rock hopping, tree branch ducking, and sliding between boulders.  Just the kind of workout someone on the mend needs.  Like me!  Even with restrictions in place, getting out for exercise has been allowed here.  The road to many of these canyons has been closed to vehicles, making it more work for people to access, thus keeping the crowds down.  A demanding workout with fresh air, beautiful scenery, and almost no people has been a win-win-win scenario.  For me, healthy legs means healthy heart and lungs, and less chance of getting sick.

 

 

creek, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

 

All the images here are from my two recent hikes into neighboring canyons.  On one, I had cloudy conditions most of the day, and the soft light was essential for getting the photos I did.  On the other, clouds were predicted for most of the day, but soon vanished.  Temperatures down in the desert were pushing triple digits, but a breeze was coming through and it was very comfortable here.

 

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One of the things I’ve noticed through the years is the change in the water into springtime.  After the snow has melted, and the creek flows decrease, algae forms in the pools, and as these pools dry up, green tinted rocks remain.  I even found algae forming on a waterfall.

 

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On the second hike, I started getting photos of something I don’t normally come across – tiny critters.  I was sitting in the shade of a large tree cooling my feet in the water when I observed a brightly colored dragonfly.  It had chosen a tiny exposed root as its perch, and after ten minutes, it was still there.  It would fly away occasionally, but always return within three seconds.  After clearing away some larger rocks so I could lay on my stomach somewhat comfortably, I inched closer with my favorite macro lens.  By the time I finished, I was about 3 inches away and could now observe that the dragonfly was in the middle of lunch.  Every time it jumped away and returned, it had some tiny insect in its mouth.  He could have cared less about me.  Shortly after leaving that area, I came across a lizard on a rock.  I knew it wasn’t going to have the same tolerance for me as the dragonfly, but I managed a few close-ups without it moving a millimeter.  It has also been frog hatching season, and I managed to capture this tiniest of frogs.  I could have picked up any one of these rocks with one hand, but the pine needle in the back really gives it a frame of reference.

 

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For now, the creeks still have water but the levels have been diminishing with each passing week.  My favorite part of spring has to be the redbud trees in bloom.  I wanted to capture them with partly cloudy skies, but the full sunshine actually worked well.

 

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Stay healthy everyone!

 

Monochrome Madness: MM 197

Water is the planet’s most precious resource, especially here in the desert.  Last month we finally had a day of rain that put an end to a string of 116 days without measurable rain at the official weather gauge in Las Vegas.  The previous rainfall was a trace…..enough to wet the pavement, but not enough for the insects or birds to get a drink.  Go back another five days to when there were numbers on the rain gauge.  That’s 121 days.  One third of a year.  At a time of year that is supposed to be the wettest.  Similar stats have taken place throughout the southwest.

As each month draws to a close, it seems the news people tell us how it was the hottest (January, February, March, etc.) on record, or at least a top five.  In 2017, the temperature never dropped below freezing, which has never happened here before.  The doubters of global warming will tell you it’s because we are adding more concrete, thus raising temperatures where the official readings are taken.  I assure you, no one is building near our airport.  Even more remote places are showing elevated average readings.

The photo above is from a previous winter, and is from a lesser-known part of Red Rock Canyon, west of Las Vegas.  It’s probably a good thing that there is not a marked trail to get here.  This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Glow

When I saw the title for this week’s photo challenge, I immediately thought of some of the canyons I’ve visited.  The canyons of the southwestern US are great places to hike because there is often shade.  Because of the shade, light reaching the bottom is often reflected off higher sunlit walls, resulting in a warm glow.  In those canyons where water is present, the effect is magnified.

My photo comes from Zion National Park, Utah.  As sunrise lit up the high cliffs on a morning with clear blue skies, the North Fork of the Virgin River glowed from the light being cast onto it.

WPC: Narrow

This week’s Daily Post Challenge of Narrow made me immediately think of slot canyons.  The most famous (and photographed) one is Antelope Canyon, and you can find thousands of shots from inside the canyon, but have you ever wondered what it looked like from outside?  This is lower Antelope Canyon (above), and that narrow crack in the earth is about 50 to 60 feet deeper than what you can see at this spot.  Water has worn it smooth all the way, so think of this as the bathtub drain if there’s a thunderstorm nearby.

Not far from Antelope Canyon, even deeper and equally claustrophobic is Paria Canyon, with the branch known as Buckskin Gulch.  Once you’ve entered, it remains this narrow for miles, with few escape routes.  The drainage continues upcanyon for many miles, and there are logs jammed in a couple spots high above your head to remind you that this is a sunny day hike.  If it has flooded recently, you will find this impassible due to quicksand.

Buckskin Gulch - Steve Bruno

A much tighter series of canyons exist in Cathedral Gorge State Park in eastern Nevada.  No chance of being caught in a flood here, because these don’t travel very far.  In some spots you will have to walk sideways to get through.  Without some object providing a sense of scale, this may be difficult to obtain perspective, but I can’t walk through this canyon with my feet side by side.

Cathedral Gorge Narrow Canyon - Steve Bruno

One place that I find quite unique is this series of canyons at the base of Mount Charleston, Nevada.  The canyons themselves are not that narrow or deep, but there is this narrow passage from one canyon to the next one.

Secret Passage - Steve Bruno

Wordless Wednesday: West Clear Creek Canyon

Sunlit cliffs reflect in a dark corridor of West Clear Creek Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Steve Bruno.
Sunlit cliffs reflect in a dark corridor of West Clear Creek Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Steve Bruno.

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