I spent June exploring the wonderful state of Utah. It’s full of inviting deserts, lush high altitude hills, wide and deep canyons, river washes, cozy slot canyons, arches, hoodoos, and so on. SO MUCH STUFF!
I shot a TON of pictures in June, and this post will be full of them. I’m also experimenting with dumping in some of the captions I’ve written over the last month for my Instagram posts.
MAP OF TRAVELS
I started out June down in the southwest corner of the state, in Zion, and ended in Grand Junction, just across the Colorado border.
Wow! So many fucking kids. What’s in the water here!?
TOWARDS BRYCE CANYON
I camped for a few days in Dixie National forest between Cedar City and Bryce Canyon. It looks like there are many good places to camp around here.
I shot these pictures in Dixie National Forest, east of Cedar City. It’s not that far from Bryce Canyon National Park – which looks incredibly different.
From where I camped for only one day, I saw 5 or 10 deer out of my van windows. There’s a meadow nearby that I walked over to in the evening, and there were a few different groups of deer there – about 40 in total.
I had wonderful songs from birds. And I had wonderful sunlight shining in through these aspen trees.
I met a Peruvian guy up here while looking for a campsite. He lived in an old style wooden trailer – basically a covered wagon. The wagon appears to sit there full time (he had no vehicle). He works up there, herding sheep. He’s been in the U.S. for 10 years, but doesn’t know much english, because he’s spent those ten years alone in places like this. I saw a video once about these sheep herders on Youtube, and it was really interesting. The herders are basically all guys from Southern America. They stay up in the National Forests full time, in these old style trailers, or sometimes in cabins. The sheep owners bring them food and water, and move them and the trailers to other locations. I would’ve taken a picture of him and his wagon, but he didn’t want me to. .
I love this kind of forest
Aspen trees all over the place. Some old dead trees that have been on the ground a long time
Free of thick plants or bushes, so you can walk everywhere
Birds singing their songs, flying around, and keeping their eggs warm
Deer meandering through and looking relaxed
Sunlight filtering in through the Aspen leaves
The air clean and a little bit sweet smelling
A breeze blowing through and making nice white noise as it filters through the leaves
Nowhere else to go. Nowhere else to be. No worries. No crowds of people, or traffic, or noise, or work deadlines, or chores to do.
The world simplified down to this area and it’s beautiful balances of plants, animals, sunlight, and weather.
Thoughts while driving on a road like this and looking for a campsite:
The day is full of possibilities…
Will I find a wonderful place to camp?
Will the roads be good for riding my bike?
Will there be nice sunsets?
Will I see deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, BEARS?
Will be it windy, rainy, cold, hot, cloudy?
Will there be birds singing songs for me? (well, not for me, but I’ll still get to enjoy them)
Will there be a cell phone signal to keep me connected to the parts of the world I wish to be?
How long will I feel like staying before I have the urge to move on?
DRONE SMASHED TO PIECES!
While I as on my way to the campsite above, I stopped to fly my drone. And while flying, it turned over past 90 degrees sideways and dropped like a sack of rocks. It fell from about 80 feet in the air and crashed into the ground really hard. As soon as I saw it tip over like that, I figured that was it – no more drone for me.
The plants weren’t all that crazy thick where this happened, but it still took me a while to find the drone. As expected, it was smashed really bad. The camera and gimbal broke off entirely and I didn’t find them. One of the arms was bend really bad. The body was all smashed up and cracked open. I’m sure a bunch of the electronic connections inside were broken. I gathered up all the pieces that I could find and threw them in the trash in the next city.
So – what went wrong? I didn’t crash it into a tree or anything, it just turned over and fell from the sky. I had made some adjustments to the controls sensitivity recently, but I thought they seemed conservative, even within the ranges available. The drone had been drifting more than usual during this flight – downwards, and I probably should’ve stopped flying it to recalibrate it. I’d been flying it for about ten minutes, and when I pushed the control knobs to have the drone turn and fly quickly, it tipped.
There are many different things that could’ve gone wrong, but I don’t know which did. It could’ve been that my controls adjustments were actually too much. It could’ve been that it got too far out of calibration. One of the arms was bent from crashes that occurred while the previous owner had it and it’s propeller blade often hit the arm while flying. That propeller could’ve broken. A motor could’ve failed. There could’ve been a short in one of the many wire and connections. Who knows. But… no more drone.
Daaaaang. I really would like to get another – a Mavic Pro, which are small enough to carry on hikes. Flying the drone and editing the videos was a lot of fun. But…. I don’t like the idea of spending ~$1,300 on something that can suddenly fall out of the sky and smash to pieces. There is crash replacement insurance available at a reasonable cost. I just still don’t feel like spending the money on it right now.
For a couple weeks after, it sucked when I saw a place that would be awesome to use a drone. But, you know, this kind of “sucks” is entirely imagined in my own head… It’s someone thinking “oh man, damn it, it would be so cool to drive a Ferrari right now, this sucks!”
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
I spent 4 or so days in Bryce Canyon. I don’t like it anywhere near as much as Zion.
In Utah, there are many striking landscapes. Many of them are from water carving out rocks and dirt into beautiful landscapes and shapes. Zion has hard sandstone rock, and Bryce has a softer, more dirt-like material. So in Zion you have these flattish edges of hard rocks that I find beautiful. In Bryce, it looks more like dirt that has eroded, and I think it’s ugly.
I grew up in the midwest, where plants can grow everywhere. If a yard or some land has bare dirt that then erodes, it is a sign that the land is not cared for, or that it’s owner is incompetent, and his precious topsoil is washing away.
GRAND STAIRCARE ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT
Excalante National Monument is huge. I mean HUGE. Zion National Park is 230 square miles. Escalante is 2,900 square miles. Plus, it’s surrounded on all sides by federal land for hundreds of miles. And basically no one lives permanently in Escalante N.M. This is the most remote part of Utah, and maybe of the entire lower 48 states.
There are some awesome places in Escalante, particularly along a road called Hole in the Rock Road. There are arches, slot canyons, big interesting rocks, and a wonderful hike down a canyon through what’s called Coyote Gulch.
Hole in the Rock Road follows a trail taken by Mormons on their way to found a new city on the east side of the Colorado River. 200 people set out with 83 wagons and 1,000 head of livestock. Crossing the river turned out to be very difficult. The river has cut a ~1,000 foot canyon through the rock. They found a place where the canyon wall was cracked and spent months blasting it open and making a very rough and very steep path down to the river. They went on and formed a town called Bluff, where now about 300 people live.
I really wanted to go to Coyote Gulch, which contains the Jacob Hamblin Arch. Coyote Gulch is basically at the end of Hole In the Rock road, 40 or 50 miles south of the highway. There was a big forest fire nearby, making a lot of smoke, and I was concerned that the smoke appeared to be going down that way – basically straight south along the road. At the visitor’s center in Escalante, I asked about it. The guy said that the smoke clears out about a third of the way down the road.
Slot Canyons – Tunnel and Zebra
After setting off town the road, the first place I stopped was where a trail leads to two slot canyons. These were fun.
While I was exploring and photographing these slot canyons, it got really, really smokey. It was clear that the guy at the visitors center was either wrong or has very perceptions of smoky vs clear. I could also see all the smoke floating straight south, in the same direction as the road, and too all the areas I wanted to go camp and hike and photograph. I don’t like the smoke, and it basically ruins any landscape pictures of things more than 20 feet away. So I decided to head back up to the highway and go northeast and get out of the smoke. I expect that I’ll come through Utah again and that I’ll make it all the way to the bottom of this road.
DRIVE THROUGH THE REST OF UTAH
It was getting really hot in Utah, and I decided to get over to the rockies sooner rather than later. So I drove a couple hundred miles from Escalante to Colorado in 2 or 3 days.
I drove through Capital Reef N.P., and it looks good. I was considering going down to Moab and Arches, but decided that I might as well go up into the mountains and leave those places for some later and cooler time.
Various Driving Pictures
Hike near the Escalante River
I hiked up along some creek that meets the Escalante right by hwy 12. There are two neat things there: various native rock art, and a big arch.
A hundred handprints. These were up along a rock wall and were visible from quite far away if you knew they were there.
And here’s the arch:
Hey where are you camped? … Nowhere..