Bryce Canyon: Call of the Trail

After a spectacular morning being awed by Bryce, the trail called.  And this wasn’t an “oh, we should check that one out later” or even a “that trail looks interesting; let’s pack up our camera gear and go for a hike!”  Nope.  This was a “ooh, I wonder what’s down that way… I must find out now; forget that I still have all of my camera equipment on me!”

Snowy Bryce Canyon at sunrise | LotsaSmiles Photography

Trails do that to some folks.  Especially explorers like us.  And especially in a place as beautiful as Bryce.

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Photostory: The Duane-venture

I’m taking a slight break from the Bryce posts to bring you a local photostory.  As the weather continues to improve, we’re getting out more, and I’m taking more pictures of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

The trip involves closed paved roads, easy trails, tough trails, tunnels, scrambling, and really nice scenery.  The distance is 5-6 miles.  Elevation gain is approximately 800 feet.  There will be ropes.

Equipment:
– Layers of clothing you don’t mind getting dirty
– Sturdy boots with good traction
– Flashlight (yep)
– Work gloves
– Sunglasses for protection against branches
– Spare clothes to change into afterwards
– Definitely bring camera gear, but keep it light.  Tripods are recommended.

The Duane-venture

Woman in a riverbank in a mossy forest, photographing the water | LotsaSmiles Photography

We have a friend.  His name is Duane.  He knows a lot of the local hikes, and he’s kind enough to share those with us.  He likes to chase waterfalls.

Duane’s also familiar with many “off-road” trails – ones without parking lots or paved paths or crowds.  Most don’t have bathrooms.  Many don’t have officially marked trailheads.  Some don’t even have well-established paths through the underbrush.

These are the hikes we’ve dubbed the “Duane-ventures.”  And these are oftentimes the highlights of my summers.
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Zion’s Emerald Pools

Day 2 of our stay in Zion National Park was fairly low-key.  After all, we were pretty beat after the crazy climb to the top of Angels Landing!  We started the day with a cold wait for sunrise at the Canyon Overlook, and then we took a leisurely stroll to see the Zion’s Emerald Pools.

The muddy path that winds behind the trickling waterfalls at the lower of Zion's Emerald Pools

Spoiler alert: It was somewhat disappointing.

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Biweekly Wow: Zion’s Canyon Overlook

I’m somewhat beginning to adopt a habit of posting my “weekly wow”s every other week, so I suppose they’re more of a “biweekly wow.”  I still have so much to share from this trip!  I hope you’re enjoying the journey.

After our rainy bust at Zion’s Canyon Overlook the morning prior, we had to give it another chance.  After all, the golden rays of dawn are supposed to be spectacular on this national park’s red rocks.

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Angels Landing rock formation in Zion National Park | LotsaSmiles Photography

Photostory: Angels Landing

So I love surprises.  But sometimes, that affinity comes at my own detriment.  Because of this proclivity, I was hardly involved in the planning for our recent trip to Bryce and Zion, and I didn’t know anything about the Angels Landing hike.

I had no idea what I was about to experience.

Black and white image of the Angels Landing rock formation | LotsaSmiles Photography

We set out for a 5-mile hike.  That’s fine.  I can handle that, no problem.  There would be some elevation gain.  That’s fine, too; I’m used to such hikes from Colorado.  There will be epic views.  Awesome!  Sign me up!

Somewhere in there, I either didn’t hear or forgot all mention of chains.
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The Zion valley floor from atop the Angels Landing hike with the canyon walls dappled in spotty sunlight | LotsaSmiles Photography

Weekly Wow: Atop Angels Landing

After such a rainy start to our trip to Zion National Park, we didn’t expect the sky to clear out so beautifully.  And when it did, we further didn’t expect it to invite a few elite clouds back into the scene to perfectly diffuse the harsh sun at just the right moment, providing a spectacular view of the valley below.

Yes, we survived the famed (infamous?) Angels Landing Hike (though six people, sadly, have not), and we were in for quite a treat when we reached the top.  I have a more in-depth photostory to share with you about the full hike next week, but for now, I wanted to focus on this one photo.

View of a valley far below the summit of the Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park - Weekly Wow: Atop Angels Landing | LotsaSmiles Photography

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Photostory: Zion’s Canyon Overlook

I have fallen in love with Utah and its many national parks, and I seek to add many more from across the country to my list.  We were in Utah quite recently to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands, and we couldn’t wait to return.

Photostory: Canyon Overlook | LotsaSmiles Photography | Click through to read all about our exciting adventure hiking in the dark and shooting a Zion sunrise in the rain!

We had arrived in the famed Zion National Park, and we were ready.  After a long, five-hour drive in from the Salt Lake City airport (word to the wise: Las Vegas is actually much closer), our fingers were itching for our shutters.

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WC: A Break in the Weather

This time of year in the Pacific Northwest, it’s typically dreary.  We’ll get nice days as well, but “nice” merely means “not actively raining.”  These days are usually accompanied by a thick blanket of clouds, threatening, but not yet releasing any precipitation.

Every so often, though, we get true sun with bright blue skies.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

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