Bryce Canyon & Coyote Buttes

Use that 4x4 switch on your Path and go get dirty!

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NVSteve
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Bryce Canyon & Coyote Buttes

Postby NVSteve » Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:31 am

Me, my girlfriend & one of my soccer buddies took a quick 4 day trip last week to southern Utah/northern Arizona, only because I didn't want to celebrate my 40th anywhere near Salt Lake. It was a bit tough taking the photos because whenever shade was involved, it really screwed with the camera sensor. Having such a huge dynamic range between light and dark is challenging for film, let alone digital. We drove down to Bryce the first day, set up camp & then did a 8 mile hike down into the hoodoos, which is the only way to see the park IMO:

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We drove a short distant over to Kodachrome Basin State Park the next day, which is a tiny little place with a few interesting formations, including many volcanic necks (magma that cooled in a shaft on the way to the surface that had all the surrounding rock eroded to expose the solidified shaft). We did a 6 mile hike there:

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The plan was to take the dirt road (Cottonwood Canyon Road), just a couple of miles away from Kodachrome, for ~40 miles to the highway close to the UT/AZ border. The week prior, we had severe thunderstorms across the state, and the road had a big "ROAD CLOSED" sign sitting in it. I talked to the guys at Kodachrome & they said that the county has always been maintaining the road, even though it is actually a BLM road. Neither will fix it until they can come to some sort of maintenance agreement. Crap. Back to the highway to take the long way around (130 miles vs 40 miles). We hit House Rock Road and drove down to the free BLM campground right on the border at sunset:

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The next morning, we drove down a few more miles into AZ, then turned off on another road that would take us to an area known as Coyote Buttes South. The road was amazingly bad. Super deep sand, a few spots with mud from the previous week's storms, tree roots sticking out like spikes & lots of very large rock. I didn't take any pictures of the road on the way in since I wanted to start hiking & figured I could take pictures on the way back (didn't happen-more on that later). We made it to the trailhead and started our hike:

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At this point, we had already hiked about 5 miles. It was clear and in the upper 90's, with no wind & not a speck of shade. We decided to hike up into the other permit section known as Coyote Buttes North, where the Wave (I posted about this last year) is located. It would be another 9 miles round trip across sand and rock, but what the hell. Here are a few from the North:

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This one I've dubbed Penguin Rock:

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Once finished in the North, I basically just created and followed an imaginary straight line back toward where we started. I made it back to the car & noticed my soccer buddy hadn't crested the hill yet. He did so a few minutes later saying he had to stop for some dry heaving action. Once at the vehicle, I slammed 2 liters of cold water + a can of Pepsi. My friend drank about 1 liter of water, albeit slowly. He started complaining about a huge stomach ache before even drinking the water, so I knew something was amiss. We started the drive out & the horrible road didn't help him at all. I had to stop so he could heave his guts out for a while. At this point, it was dark. We had been hiking non-stop for 9 1/2 hours and my friend didn't look good at all. I had to stop again so he could puke for a while. When we made it back to camp & solid, non-moving ground, he started feeling a bit better. He tried to eat a bit, had some more water & called it a night. I told him that if he wasn't feeling better, or if something did not feel right, that he'd have to wake me up so I could take him in to the nearest clinic some 70 miles away. He was fine the next day. Since it was the last day of our trip & he was feeling normal again, I decided to stop and do a short 4 mile hike into Buckskin Gulch (I have a previous post about backpacking here), which is a slot canyon. We could really see the damage that flooding had caused the prior week-lots of big boulders piled up, mud everywhere, etc. Here are a couple from that:

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If anyone ever hits southern Utah on a road trip, let me know. I can certainly point out some horrible trails for you to test your 4x4 mettle.


boogyman
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Postby boogyman » Sat Sep 13, 2008 7:27 pm

WOW! Those are some great pictures. You must have really played with the adjustment on your camera to be able to bring out the colors of the rock. The look like national geographic pics. Wish I lived out that way sometimes. I think I would miss the water too much though. Maybe I'll have to do a family vacation to torture myself.

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guinnessjim
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Postby guinnessjim » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:40 pm

love that area of the SW....great pics as usual, steve. to bad about the rain damaged road...always hit it another time, though.

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NVSteve
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Postby NVSteve » Mon Sep 15, 2008 9:30 pm

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Jim, you need to get your butt over there since you live so close. If you ever do, let me know.

Boogyman, if I could shoot for National Geographic, I would be elated. I actually met the (then) Staff Travel Manager on a train in Germany in the mid 80's. I went out to visit her in DC around '93, but she was called away to Spain. I was actually interested in working for them (non-photography), but they only had internships available. As to the photos, Bryce was done in the early-late afternoon, so the light was fantastic. To me, the Bryce photos came out with an almost cartoonish Flinstones color, but that's just how intense it really was. Most of the bland/less colorful photos were done around mid day. I don't tweak anything except for the brightness & contrast. All settings are at 0 except the picture mode, which I change from "normal" to "vivid." Everything also looks a bit odd when I have to reduce them for the web. Full size photos are spot on though.

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NVSteve
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Postby NVSteve » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:16 am

boogyman wrote:WOW! The look like national geographic pics.
One of the photos above is going to be published for an article covering state parks in the May '09 issue of National Geographic Traveler.

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guinnessjim
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Postby guinnessjim » Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:58 pm

NVSteve wrote:Thanks for the comments, guys.

Jim, you need to get your butt over there since you live so close. If you ever do, let me know.
i hope to get some camping/free time in the end of June (will be in durango, co for a wedding). things have started heating up a lot of places then, so my guess is i will stay kind of in the high country.

i will let you know my plans when i have them, but will pbby be coming back through UT.

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markspath
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Postby markspath » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:14 am

Beautiful shots, Steve. Makes me really want to come back out that way again this year. Unfortunately, my 17yo son is going on a volunteer trip to Ecuador for 3 weeks in early July, and August isn't a good time to be in the desert.

Hopefully next year.

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se7en
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Postby se7en » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:06 pm

how do you guys get such clarity photos - so vibrant and precise and colorful... are yall professional photographers or just rich people with $10,000 cameras...


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