Up early, I drove to Norman, Oklahoma, to pick up my guest for this trip, my long-time friend Michael Zeiler.
We made two or three good images, and, except for worthless restaurant service, had a pretty decent travel day. Michael’s Honda Element was well-suited to piling-style packing, and seemed like a good road vehicle. We shared the driving.
As usual, we drove from gloomy weather in Oklahoma to sunshine and a great sunset in New Mexico.
For a while east of and through Albuquerque, Michael had his camera in his hands for an hour, sometimes even shooting out the window through the glass.
• Driving from Farmington, New Mexico to Moab, Utah, and The Devil’s Garden at Arches National Park
The drive from Farmington to Moab has produced nice images, including the Hogback, the Abajo Mountains, Church Rock, and Wilson Arch.
Michael got his Honda Element stuck in some hidden mud east of Monticello while we were photographing the Abajos. I got out and pushed, but we had more luck when he got out and pushed and I drove.
After lunch in Moab, Utah, we hit the trail in Arches National Park, hiking the Devils Garden trail to Double-O Arch. Along the trail were some arches that I had no idea would be so cool, including Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, and Landscape Arch.
• Sunrise in The Windows, Delicate Arch, The Fiery Furnace, and Sunset in The Windows
We shot the Courthouse Towers on the way in to Arches at first light, then found our way to the Windows section for the classic shot through the North Window of Turret Arch.
At mid-morning, we hiked to Delicate Arch and explored the area more than I had in 2002. We also drove to the Delicate Arch viewpoint, which was more interesting that I expected.
After lunch and a few miscellaneous items, we took the ranger-guided tour of the Fiery Furnace.
By evening, we shot a nice wave-like formation in the Windows section. I met a nice woman in Double Arch who said it was her favorite place in the world, and we bid each other “Namasté.” We caught last light at the Garden of Eden section.
• Mesa Arch, Crater View, Whale Rock, Aztec Butte, Murphy Point Trail, and Sunset at Grand View Point
Our first item for the day was the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. We stopped at the visitor center to buy gifts for Abby.
We made the short hike to Mesa Arch, which didn’t really make pictures, then hiked the Crater View trail at the Syncline Loop, and the short trails at Whale Rock and Aztec Butte.
After lunch, during which I spilled lentils on my 300mm, we drove to the Green River Overlook, but were too early for really nice light, so we hiked the Murphy Point trail to the point.
Later in the afternoon, we hiked the White Rim Overlook Trail to the overlook.
Finally, the sunset at Grand View Point was supremely clear.
• Druid Arch at Canyonlands
Our longest hike of the trip was in the Needles district in Canyonlands, to Druid Arch. The hike follows Elephant Canyon for most of its length, which is very beautiful. As the day progressed, we were greeted by record heat, and by noon it was 80 degrees. The last quarter mile of the approach involved a bit of scrambling. The arch itself was much larger and more impressive than I thought it would be.
By the time we reached the arch, Michael’s knee was killing him. Several times I offered to stop and rest, but he was concerned that if he stopped, his knee would stiffen and make matters worse.
He made it back to the trailhead, but ended the day in considerable pain.
A Park Ranger named Paul found gummy bears stuck to the tips of yuccas near Elephant Hill.
At the end of the day, we stopped at the Wooden Shoe Butte turnout to shoot the sunset.
• Canyon de Chelly and the Petrified Forest
As we eased east toward home, we drove to Canyon de Chelly, where we walked to a few of the overlooks.
By late afternoon, we were in Petrified Forest National Park.
We first stopped at the Painted Desert overlook, where Michael expressed with dismay, “This is the Painted Desert?” I guess he expected more.
We continued our drive through the park as last light approached, in an increasing hurry as the light disappeared.