Day 23 – 10/16/14 Thursday
Woke up with the alarm this morning and headed towards the Elephant Arch since that was the only place the ranger suggested yesterday I go for sunrise. When I headed out that way as the sky was just lightening, I really felt that this was not the place for a sunrise. So I headed toward the parking lot near Gibralter Rock because it is one of the highest places in Valley of Fire and felt if I climbed one of the ridges, the light would hit and I could look south into the heart of the park as the sunlight worked its way down the rocks. When I got to the top, I had a few extra minutes after setting up to look for a good foreground to lead toward the major rock face in the area the would light up when the sun finally rose over the eastern ridges. And then it did and I got some decent shots. I then moved down the ridge quickly to a spot I noticed on the way up that had some pretty neat flat round rocks that were good for foreground as well, just not as high up the ridge. One more spot further down and I called it a morning and headed over to the campground to get a shower which was pretty nice.
After the shower, I left and headed back to Zion to spend the afternoon photographing the upper section and camp there for the night. But when I arrived, they said that both campgrounds are full and had filled up by 830am!! This place always seems to be mobbed. Not to worry though, I just headed up there and actually found the famous twisted pine growing out of a small sandstone butte. Naturally, I had to take a shot of it although there are probably millions of identical shots of it. There was a lot of fall color along a dry creek bed I hiked along; I did some abstracts with some of the interesting patterns in the sandstone and some trees against the walls. Part of the creek bed went through a slot canyon that was pretty tight and really tall and just before it, a single tree was growing In a kind of alcove eroded in the wall and it had turned yellow for autumn. I think I perseverated on that tree for quite a long time, but it never seemed to balance out photographically. I redid a few shots on the way back because there was absolutely no wind by then and I could retake the shots without having to worry about any movement in the leaves like I did earlier. Finally, the light had faded too much and I had to finish up and head back to the car where I had my wonderful staple dinner of tuna, chips and peaches for desert.
I had decided to stay up there so I could try to photograph the Milky Way with the Solitary Pine and since the moon wouldn’t rise for quite some time, it was very, very dark. But with my trusty headlamp and gear, I headed to where the icon sat and managed to get in some shots, some with light painting and while doing it, I actually saw a shooting star!!
All in all, a pretty good day, but now to decide where to spend the night?
Day 23 – 10/16/14 Thursday