Friday, June 26, 2015

Utah Stories

If you find yourself exploring a national park,
 please don't feed the wildlife.  Someone
further up the trail fed this
golden-mantled ground squirrel
a piece of hard candy.  It was eating
the wrapper along with the food.
Simiao and I recently took a vacation to Utah to explore Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.  I've always loved the scenery of the American Southwest and I relished the opportunity to scramble around on some very photogenic sandstone.

My favorite hike was the Virgin River Narrows, and if you are considering doing this hike you should definitely rent neoprene socks, a pair of hiking sticks and water hiking shoes from one of the local outfitters.  You won't regret it.  I saw dozens of people struggling, slipping and falling along that trail.  My favorite scenery, however, was in Upper Coyote Butte, which I could have wandered around and explored for days.

The landscapes in Bryce Canyon, Zion, Coyote Butte and White Pocket are absolutely incredible.  I wish I could have taken a photo that would convey the beauty of the southwest.  Unfortunately, I don't consider myself a great landscape photographer, so I prefer to take pictures of things that perhaps not every single tourist that has ever passed through the park has seen.  I've included some favorites here.

Sunset over the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon.  Sadly, I forgot to bring my timer for this trip so I was unable to take star-trail pictures over the rock formations.
Plaintain Goldenweed over Bryce Canyon. 

I can't do landscapes, but I thought this tiny arch and bonsai-sized Juniper tree were a perfect microcosm of Upper Coyote Butte.  Note the Moqui marbles in the sandstone.
A Great Basin Spadefoot tadpole living in a puddle at Upper Coyote Butte.  Remarkably, there were also at least two kinds of shrimp living in this same pool, tadpole shrimp and clam shrimp.

We startled this Desert Spiny Lizard which preferred to glare at us from under a rock and behind a dead Juniper.
This Pallid-Winged Grasshopper didn't appreciate my picking it up for a photo, and repeatedly bit me until I shooed it off my finger.
The sandstone here resembled a tubular wave that was turned to stone by the gaze of a surfing Medusa.