I just got back from Utah- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    I just got back from Utah

    From two Sundays ago till this morning, what a trip. Saw some amazing territory. To start at the start

    Name that tunnel

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    to this past Sunday, about to head back. Thousands of miles, a ton of work shooting unbelievable sights, always hard to comprehend it's time to return to "reality"

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    To be continued
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  2. #2
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    OK, Day One

    I'm going to try to give you the short version as I have 9 days of this

    So I'm finally on my way west on I70. We're all making good time till Edwards when both westbound lanes come to a screeching halt then we proceed at 20 then 30 then 40 and no more...in a 75. The speeders were going nuts, jerking from one lane to another while both lanes were doing the same speed. I'm in no hurry so I just settled back to watch the show

    And that show's cause was finally revealed: a two lane wide load blocking one or both lanes. He'd have to move to the right, his load just barely clearing whatever was over on the right to let the left lane go through for a few seconds then move back and block both lanes. Fun times

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    Finally I'm in Utah with the San Rafael Reef in the distance (like I say, this is the short story, this was 5 hours of driving later)

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    I could now start working. I took the road north from the 24/I70 junction to see what was back there

    Closer view of the Reef, which runs for 70 or so miles north/south

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    Fast forward to after I've taken a left on "Old State Route 24", the old highway, now abandoned. Incredibly, still somewhat maintained as there were some patched sections, there must be some oil rigs or something back there

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    It was like after Armageddon, the bombs have dropped, highways have started disintegrating...I started calling it "The Road That Time Forgot"

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    It motors right up through the rocks. Spooky scenic stuff all around

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    OK, back to the main road, down to the Temple Mountain area turnoff

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    It was creeping towards dark thirty but I had a lot of shooting to go, although none of the shots I show you are my work stuff

    Looking down into the creek bed from where I'll be spending the night

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    Looks like sunset to me

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    The next morning

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    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  3. #3
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    One of these years, I'm going to take several days and just explore all those old dirt roads in and around the Swell. There's SO much cool shit around there.

  4. #4
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    Day Two

    Today I wanted to revisit some places I went to in April only in different areas

    For those of you following along on a map, I've gone down 24 from I-70 to Temple Mountain, today I'm headed down to Hanksville on 24 and points beyond

    I took a right (north) on Coal Mine Road, which I call the Lunar Landscape Road. To wit

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    It's like this road exists at the whim of Mother Nature "impassable when wet" is an understatement

    So I'm headed to the Moonscape Overlook. It's completely unsigned, lots of lefts and rights to fool you, I've been fooled before and vowed to get there this time

    And of course I missed the main turnoff and kept going on the main road which just got too funky for this boy and his Element. I'd drive across drifted whatlookedlike coal dust and it was like driving in snow. I turned around, looked to my right and said "what the...?"

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    Got out and walked over to this unbelievable field of rocks

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    Thing is, it's all about layers out here. And the inevitable erosion. What I was looking at was what was left after the upper layers had worn down. Sensory overload at this point

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    I went back and finally found the correct turn. Don't go left here, go straight here, don't go right here and on and on, completely unsigned till I got to this

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    Moonscape indeed

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    The what/how/why/when of all the erosion it took to come up with this area is always fascinating to me but Utah is fill of stuff like this so I get back to the main road, go south out of Hanksville

    To Little Egypt Geological Area, again, totally unsigned till you're right on top of it

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    It's the same formation as Goblin State Park further northeast, just smaller and basically unvisited

    This time I wanted to walked further back to see what I could see

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    I'm checking out the layering involved in the creation of this area when I spy a lone hoodo in the distance

    There's a lot going on here

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    Starting with the base layer I'm standing on, all the other layers here you see had to be laid down, which is mind-blowing enough. Then it all started eroding and by the grace of that hard capstone on top, this is what is left. Where did that white layer come from????

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    Driving down a typical BFE Utah highway

    Fast forward to the morning after I arrived at Sandthrax Campground to spend the night. I'm out shooting from before sunrise every day

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    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  5. #5
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    Day 3 Pt. One

    This was a big day, not only in miles driven but number of stunning sights I got to see and photograph (always left click my pics and scroll through after you've read my descriptions)

    I had to re-visit the area I almost fell headfirst last April, not only to see it without my heart pounding from the near-catastrophe but to check out what I thought was petrified wood

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    When I'm on foot, I look around at the large and small. I call something like this a "tableau", a still life setting of small stones representing a serendipitous coming together from numerous infrequent downpours that moved them into this particular position

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    And the big. The purplish-grayish layer is found all over Utah and is typically at the bottom of a cliff (if it's exposed) and is most likely to be the location of these hoodoos. That said, it isn't found exposed that often so it's always a treat

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    I almost go into sensory overload again seeing this stuff. Just do your own math as to how all of this came to be

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    So I look down and there's this small field of what I'm calling petrified wood. The fact it's seemingly cut up into small pieces with smooth ends throws me but it sure feels like rock and looks like wood

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    Fast forward to a wash that I've driven over many times on the bridge spanning it. All around there are pinyons and junipers with no pine trees to be seen. Except here, I would notice what looked like a lone freakin' pine tree growing happily up in this wash

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    As if it was a leftover from some age when pine trees did grow abundantly here but now don't, except this guy lives on

    This is what the wash looks like on the other side of the bridge (I had to park a 1/2 mile away and walk back to see this, something in the past I've decided was too much hassle but today, a very busy day, why not

    I just got back from Utah-d72_7080.jpg

    And that was just part one of day 3
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  6. #6
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    Day 3 Pt. Two

    I covered a lot of different areas and altitudes on day 3. From descending through the canyon and older and older rock layers from Sandthrax (4600') down to Lake Powell, over the Colorado River Bridge, up to where I'd be camping that night near Natural Bridges (6500') then over to the top of Moki Dugway, down Moki (1200' drop)...

    Lake Powell had a bit more water in it than last April

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    Looking over to the Colorado River Bridge. The Colorado will back up as the lake level rises (and de facto be part of the lake) but eventually it will actually be a flowing river and its elevation will rise further up the canyon. I was in one area where the road is either open or closed accordingly to the lake level

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    Fast forward to going across Cedar Mesa to Moki Dugway. It took longer than I figured because of all the repaving going on

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    Moki Dugway was built by some mining company back in the '50s to transport ore either from down at the bottom to the top or the other way around. It is spooky to flatlanders and there's a ton of exposure but not really a big deal except I was out in the road taking pics and had to flatten myself up against the inside rock walls to not surprise any traffic

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    First time I drove Moki Dugway I came from the bottom. As I looked up I said "there's a road up there somewhere but where??"

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    This trip I vowed to explore more dirt roads that promise new areas to explore. But I found, like I expected, a 4wd vehicle would work better to travel these roads (clearance/suspension/true 4wd). This was an "OHV" trail that was part of a system near Jacob's Chair that actually crossed White Canyon on the other side of the highway

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    Fast forward to my campspot for the night, an abandoned airstrip next to the highway that the Bridges people direct visitors to when their campground is full, which is always

    Again, shooting at sunset and the following sunrise

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    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  7. #7
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    Day four

    At this point I'd been to so many places and seen so many sights it's all sort of blending together into one big memory. In between taking these pics I'm showing you I'd been doing my work photography non-stop

    Comb Ridge is a big hogback similar to what we have here on the Front Range. Two highways cross it, to the north (on the way to Blanding) and on the south end (on the way to Bluff) (left click on the first pic and scroll through after you've read the descriptions)

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    A ton of canyons to explore in the distance but that's another thread

    So on the other side of CR is the Butler Wash Ruins, it's got a trail going to an observation place across the wash to the ruins. They're really cool but I wanted to hike in the area, not just to the ruins

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    A pullout off the highway I'd passed for years, figured I'd stop and see what's what. Fortunately, this side of the hogback isn't nearly as steep as our hogbacks and I could easily get up there and wander about--not work, just curious

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    I'm always on the lookout for some gnarly tree living out its life in some difficult place, but it works for this guy

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    I'll keep the commentary to a minimum but already I could see that there was going to be a bunch of "rock tableaus" for me to marvel at. It's all sensory overload...I don't stop and marvel at each cool spot because it's all cool. I'll spot something, marvel a 1/2 second, take a pic and move on

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    An example of how erosion has and is wearing down the layers here. In the following pics note that the formations you see haven't grown up out of the base layer, the upper layers have worn down and the stuff you see in these next pics is what's left over

    In a lot of places it was like looking at a forest of small trees

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    Occasionally I'd see a field of small boulders and say "no way these didn't roll down here" and go over to pick one up to prove my point--and they'd be still attached to the base layer. I pictured turning to a seasoned geologist and exclaiming "WTF, man, it seems too improbable" and he'd reply something like "out here anything's possible"

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    Remember, what you see is here what's left over after an upper layer has eroded down

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    It was all becoming a bit too much, tableaus everywhere and work to be done elsewhere

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    A final glance down (while high stepping over all the rocks) of a snapshot-in-time...all these little rocks either eroding in place or wound up here from downpours in the past...here they are for today at least

    I just got back from Utah-d72_7159.jpg
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  8. #8
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    Day Five

    Many locations to get to today. One of them was Beef Basin Road, off of the highway to Needles. You cross a wash early which was full of water last April but dry this time, so off I went (left click the first pic and scroll through after you've read the descriptions)

    I didn't need to go too far, just enough to get the character of the road...and, yup, pretty stunning back there

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    I could see gusts of wind/dust approaching, sometimes along with approaching vehicles. The gusts might veer off and go around me, sometimes they would just motor right over me. I had to jump back in my car for the bigger ones

    Fast forward to me being in Canyonlands Nat'l Park. I'd go there in the afternoon (15 minutes down the road from Beef Basin) to a shady spot I know to compile my notes of the day, get out of the heat for awhile then get ready for evening shoots

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    Again, picture all of the formations above being covered with previous ancient layers, those layers eroding down and these formations left standing. "Where did it all go?" would be a logical question

    So it's been in the high 80s the past few days. I'm driving back towards my camp spot at Creek Pasture, partly cloudy skies, deep blue contrasted with fluffy clouds...and it starts raining

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    which was completely unexpected. I could see the rogue shower wetting the rocks in the distance while I was standing in sunshine

    I'm out shooting when the shower moved over me and it was coming down pretty good so I hopped back into my car and got this shot out the window

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    It finally subsided enough to get back outside, sun still shining

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    I tell you, standing out in all this vastness with rainbows happening was almost too much, it's like a glorious theater

    Back at my campsite

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    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  9. #9
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    We love the Swell. BTW, A pinyon is a pine tree, there arenít many Ponderosa Pines on the Swell.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanMan View Post
    We love the Swell. BTW, A pinyon is a pine tree, there arenít many Ponderosa Pines on the Swell.
    You're right about the pinyon being a pine tree. I was just curious what type of pine this is that is growing so much taller than the other trees in the area which is east of Natural Bridges at about 6000'.

    You got any stories or hints about where to go in the Swell? I've only be on the periphery.
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  11. #11
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    If itís a tall pine itís a Ponderosa. Lotís of Douglas fir, which is not a pine, on North facing slopes. Thereís a lifetime of things to explore on the Swell. Head of Sinbad, Five Miles of Hell, Fix it Pass, Copper Globe mine and surrounding, Devilís Racetrack, Swaseyís Leap, Sidís Mountain. The Upper and Lower Black Box are worthy of an expedition.

    Your picture is of a Ponderosa Pine.

    And finally, Rayís Tavern in Green River for a great hamburger afterwards.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    Many locations to get to today.

    What is it that you do for work?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    What is it that you do for work?
    It's a niche that I"d rather not say. If anyone asks me out on the road I just say "oh, this and that".
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  14. #14
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    Day Six

    Every time I leave some area I'm shooting in it's with a twinge of sadness. I'd rather stay just a few more days there but there's always the next location waiting so I get going

    This trip I said, well heck, let's reverse course and go back to Sandthrax and the Temple Mountain area instead of the usual which is going up through Moab. The pics that follow are a little out of order but, yeah, on Friday I left Creek Pasture Campground and went up through the Abajos to Monticello, down through Blanding and on towards Bridges again

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    Empty campsite. I said goodbye to Mr. Shadow

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    An example of what catches my eye when I'm out shooting. I could almost hear the "Whump!!" when that upper boulder broke loose

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    There's a ferry that goes across Lake Powell, from the east side (Hall's Crossing) to the west side (Bullfrog). The turnoff to go down to Bullfrog is just past Sandthrax and I'd always passed it by. I had no idea what the road down there looked like so I figured it was time

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    And it turns out it's pretty spectacular. I figured it'd just be 40 miles of sagebrush but boy was I wrong

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    There's a lot going on in all directions. You even drive over a slot canyon (wonder if it's named?)

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    I pulled over and peeked down into it. The wind was gusting bigtime and it was all I could do to keep from tumbling down there

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    Interesting roadcut. Trying to imagine when all that loose collection of river rock came flowing down to cover that red layer

    I'd pretty much had it with driving dirt roads. I need to come back in a truck or jeep next time

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    So what did I do? I drove down the dirt White Canyon Access road, again something I'd passed on for years. White Canyon goes through Bridges, gets deep, gets shallow (I'd hiked down in there years ago) then finally stops being a canyon down near Lake Powell and that's where this road heads to

    https://www.americansouthwest.net/sl...yon/index.html

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    It doesn't look rough and it isn't, if you're in a 4wd vehicle or don't care about your suspension. After bouncing along for a mile I turned around, wondering what I'm missing just around the next corner

    I just got back from Utah-dsc_1014.jpg
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  15. #15
    Wanna ride bikes?
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    Super cool photos! I love the landscape and geology. It's beautiful!

    Great pics!
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanMan View Post
    If itís a tall pine itís a Ponderosa. Lotís of Douglas fir, which is not a pine, on North facing slopes. Thereís a lifetime of things to explore on the Swell. Head of Sinbad, Five Miles of Hell, Fix it Pass, Copper Globe mine and surrounding, Devilís Racetrack, Swaseyís Leap, Sidís Mountain. The Upper and Lower Black Box are worthy of an expedition.

    Your picture is of a Ponderosa Pine.

    And finally, Rayís Tavern in Green River for a great hamburger afterwards.
    Thanks for that list. I started with Five Miles of Hell--Yikes!!

    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

  17. #17
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    Day Seven

    After methodically making my way from the Needles area over to North Wash, I arrived at Sandthrax once again

    I just got back from Utah-dsc_1135.jpg

    This was Saturday. I had big plans to visit the areas around Temple Mountain on Sunday for one last day of shooting before heading home on Monday. However...

    I just got back from Utah-dsc_1086.jpg

    After 6 days of no wind and blue sky, suddenly there these big gusts rolling through the campground. Not good. It just is no fun camping in Utah if the winds are consistently blowing, nope, and impossible to do my work photography

    I just got back from Utah-dsc_1157.jpg

    After my E rocking back and forth all night, it seemed doubtful I could camp Sunday night at Temple Mountain seeing as it's really exposed to the winds

    Yes, that is the shrubbery leaning over from the wind on Sunday morning

    I took a last look around Sandthrax and headed north

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    Something was moving in for sure

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    I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would calm down and I could get one more day of shooting in but it didn't look promising

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    I'm cruising north with a 30-40 mph tailwind. Yup, showers over at Temple Mountain and, bonus, another rainbow

    I just got back from Utah-img_7092.jpg

    Oh well. The light was fantastic as I looked over to the San Rafael Reef. So many canyons to explore. I wondered if anyone had walked the entire length of the east side of the Reef?

    I just got back from Utah-img_7095.jpg

    Then I said, ya know, there comes a time to just stop taking pictures. So I did until I got to Frisco and you've seen those pics
    Who's in charge, the thinker or the thought?

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