Friday, March 31, 2017

Kanab, UT (3/15/2017)

We moved our camp to Kanab because that's where BLM holds the lotteries for North and South Coyote Buttes.  The famous Wave formation is in North Coyote Buttes, where ten "walk-in" permits  are awarded daily.  We learned that crowds of 150-200 had been entering the lottery each day, essentially ending our hope of getting permits in only one or two days.  We did try for the South Coyote Buttes lottery, but failed to get a permit although there were only five entrants.  Each person selected can represent up to five people, so it took only three draws to fill the day's ten permits.

Disappointed at not getting the sought after permits, we maintained our spirits by visiting places without permit requirements.  Red Canyon, or as locals call it, Peekaboo, is a slot canyon with relatively small visitation.  It is remote and the road is deep sand, needing high clearance 4WD to access it.  Twice I've gotten stuck by taking the wrong turn, but luckily was able to back out and choose a better road.  We could see, however, that increased ATV usage has produced many more visitors and made the road even more difficult.

Peekaboo is not in the same league with the two Antelope Canyons, but is very worthwhile seeing.  The sandstone walls are red and not as deep, so there is less reflection of light and fewer colors.  It is a more natural experience because there are no tour guides, stairs or people to charge admission.  If you can get there, you can walk right through.  There are a few rocks to climb over, and logs to scoot under.  The logs stuck high above are a clue to water levels when floods occur, making sure that each visit is a little different.

Very close to Peekaboo is the Best Friends animal sanctuary, which has become world famous for providing homes for a variety of animals.  I always drive through their property, called Angel Canyon, and make a few stops.  Visiting the several buildings of cats and dogs requires going with a tour, but other stops are permissible.  A stop at the cemetery, called Angels Rest, is a memorable experience to see how thousands of animals have been memorialized.  I wish they had always been treated that well in life, but I know that some were least before they came to Best Friends.  Let's remember, this worthy organization depends on donations and volunteers to continue its good work.

Our day ended with a nice sunset over the Jackson Reservoir, including some lenticular clouds. These clouds, named for their shape like a lens in the human eye, are formed by wind against mountains, so people living in flat land rarely see them.  Some cases have been reported as UFO's due to their appearance similar to "flying saucers".

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Page, AZ (3/14/2017)

There are so many things to do in or near Page, it can be tough deciding what to do in the time available.  On this day, we chose to visit several places that don't require a lot of hiking, thereby allowing time for more places.

An area I learned of last year is called White Rocks and is said to have three distinct sections.  Since I only visited one section last year, we decided to try another section.  Following the directions carefully, we came to a spot that seemed to be correct, so set out to find the colorful formations.  There were a few formations of interest, but walking uphill in sand became boring quickly and we couldn't see a big payoff ahead.  So, we took a few photos and left.  Not every swing is a home run.

Next up, by coincidence, was the White House Trailhead, unrelated to White Rocks and having nothing to do with Washington.  I don't know the origin of its name, but it's where backpackers start the hike through Paria Canyon, a 37 mile trek that ends at Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River.  No, I've never made that hike.  However, I do find the sandstone formations here to be very pretty and just a little different than most of the local rock.

And, speaking of different formations, I wanted to revisit Stud Horse Point, especially to be there for sunset.  My previous trip there involved poor directions and some wandering around, but this time we had better directions and found it with no trouble.  The "road" near the end was quite a challenge, but the LRJ did its thing and we drove right to the edge of the canyon.  A young couple we met there parked their pickup truck and walked the last nearly a mile, but didn't seem to mind.  Unfortunately, the sunset was a rare disappointment for this area, so we settled for strong golden light on the hoodoos.

 Our location also gave us a great view across Lake Powell to Navajo Mountain, as well as the nasty layer of greenish-brownish pollution that I suspect is the result of burning high sulfur content coal in the Navajo Generating Station.  (Take that with a grain of salt, as I really don't know much about it.)
Later, driving by Wahweap Marina, there were good views that included the Belt of Venus.  This is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs in twilight due to backscattering of reddened sunlight and dust particles (straight from Wikipedia).  The pink band is often accompanied by a blue band from the earth's shadow.  Both bands were visible on this evening, as well as the local pollution, giving us some unusual lighting.

 In an earlier post, I mentioned an attempt to video our Lower Antelope Canyon tour.  Wearing the GoPro on my head proved to be problematic, since I was constantly looking around for compositions and bringing my still camera up to my face, interfering with the video.  Also, it was impossible to avoid the crowd we were part of.  Anyway, I gave up the video effort shortly into the tour, so it doesn't show much of the canyon.  The video is now available at Lower Antelope Canyon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Page, AZ (3/13/2017)

After our busy day the day before, on this day we relaxed all morning and caught up with chores.  After lunch, we were ready to go kayaking, so took the inflatable kayak to Antelope Point.  Having done the Lower Antelope Canyon, we wanted to paddle into the part of Antelope Canyon that is part of Lake Powell.  Even with the lake level 100 feet below full, it still fills several miles of Antelope canyon, and making for a very popular kayaking destination.  I was reluctant to expose my camera to the risk of getting dunked (I've done that a couple times.), but Pam took some great shots with her cell phone.  As happens too often, I did not think to bring the GoPro.😞 Several tour boats operate in the canyon, giving us a swell ride when they passed by.

After our kayak outing, we visited the Antelope Point Marina to check out some of the monstrous houseboats that are kept there, some up to 100 feet long and several decks high.  From the high ground above the marina, there are good views of Tower Butte and Navajo Mountain, plus I could see Alstrom Point and Gunsight Butte, where I spent the night in the LRJ last year.  That location is ten miles away as the crow flies, more than 50 miles by car.

We had not seen all of Antelope Canyon in the kayak, so we decided to take a boat tour.  Catching the last tour of the day (5 pm) proved to be the best.  The sun was still high enough to put light in the canyon, but low enough to make the light golden on the sandstone walls.

The tour boat took us much farther into the canyon than we went by kayak, reaching a dead end finally and having to return to the marina.  It was a spectacular trip and one that I highly recommend to those who visit Page.

By the time our tour ended, it was nearing sunset, so we hung around Antelope Point to see a brilliant show of color in all directions.