Travelogue - Lake Powell

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  • 06-05-2006, 11:27 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Thanks Amanda!

    I've made it up to Payson a few times. Beautiful country up there. One of the best kept secrets in Arizona, I believe. Not many folks think "green" when they think of this state!

    I would love to read a travelogue of your trip this summer!

  • 06-06-2006, 12:34 PM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Your guys' encouragement has inspired me to keep writing. Guess what?! I actually make it to the lake in this one :D

    The miles race by as I tear north on highway 89. It is going to be close. I am trying to make it to the lakeside by sunset. I fear this sunny afternoon will be my last chance to take good photography for the whole weekend. There is a front moving in bringing rain and snow with it.

    In the dashboard, the miles roll by.

    I enter the Navajo Reservation. I am astounded by the simple beauty of their land. In many places the highway is hugged on either side by funny-shaped rocks smooth in appearance and colorful in pallet. Very photogenic, I think, whizzing by at speed. I would have time to stop and photograph them if only I hadnít driven that loop!

    Reaching the northern bounds of the state, the small colorful rocks suddenly become the Echo Cliffs. Astounded I am, leaning over the steering wheel and gaping up at these beautiful cliffs of stone. If only I had time to play in them! But the sun is dropping dangerously low in the sky, pushing me forward in fear of arriving at night. I leave the cliffs staring, unphotographed, down at my truck as I push toward Page. But my, they are worth the look.

    Where alternative route 89A branches off from its main artery, 89 makes a sharp turn east and starts climbing. I am aware that I am climbing the same cliffs that had captured my attention over the last 30 miles. Antelope pass takes me through a wall of red rock and I come out on the other side on the Kaibito Plateau. From here, the layout of the land is apparent. I see the Colorado River winding far below me in a canyon that cuts through green pasture. I also can see the sunís proximity to the horizon - it is starting to set on me.

    25 miles to go. 89 travels down at this point, and I can see my first glimpses of water as I make my descent. Three huge smoke stacks loom on the horizon and I see a layer of yellow in the sky that turns me off. Why build a power plant in such a beautiful area?

    The traffic is moving too slow, and the sun is dipping too fast. Yet somehow, I come to the outskirts of Page. I wrestle my state atlas from the back and open it on the seat next to me. Lake Powell, it tells me, is across a bridge just north of the city. I cruise into the town trying to keep it near the 35 mph speed limit but I am anxious to get to the lake before the sun sets. Having never been to this town before I have no idea where the ďspotsĒ are. First lake turnoff, I say to myself. Thatís my best bet rather than driving around searching for the perfect spot.

    Sunset is very close. I pass the turn for downtown Page and in a moment I am upon the bridge, the dam, and Lake Powell. I gaze toward the Lake as I crawl across the bridge at mandated 25 mph. It is beautiful! Sunset on the rocks, reflecting in the water. Iíve made it!

    Now, where to go? I have only minutes to find my spot. I have a real aversion to making photographic decisions on the fly like this. But, better to get something before the snow comes in. I come to the first turn that goes down to the Lake. Wahweap Marina, it says. Sounds good to me! I turn off 89 and blow through a pay station, slowing down just enough to make sure it is unattended. There, just past the entrance station is a small parking lot with a view of the rocks and the marina. The sunís final rays are glowing off a huge rock sitting in the harbor, spilling its color all across the bay. Here is my spot.

    I park the truck, grab the camera bag and run into the scene. Turning knobs and eyeing compositions as I run, I come to the edge of a small shelf and plunk my tripod down in the sand. I quickly begin firing off shots, just happy for being able to do so.

    I am not getting the kinds of shots I wanted. But a part of me doesnít care. It might take days of touring this area to find the perfect composition. I am happy to have seen the sun set on Lake Powell.

    Back at the truck, I shut myself in and take a deep breath. It has been a long day. The pressure is gone. Iíve accomplished my goal. I say ďthank youĒ to the travel gods for having given me a safe journey up here. I open my atlas again and see what else there is to do in this area. It says thereís a restaurant and water access ahead. I let my breath out, put the truck in gear and, more slowly this time, continue down the road.

    The sun has gone down. It is a little-known phenomenon in nature that after the sun sets, the shadow of the earth is cast upon its own atmosphere out in space, causing a dark shadow of blue to rise slowly in the east as the sun sinks further in the west. I think maybe I have time to capture this unique light. Pulling into what looks like a small resort area, I pull my camera gear out for one more spin. Hereís my chance to take my time and get it right.

    I wander around the buildings, passing a few people here and there, but largely it is deserted. I suppose not many people use the lake in the winter time. Though, it is beautiful.

    I round a corner and come upon a view of the marina. Wow, I think to myself. This is what I have been looking for. Out in the marina, a huge rock sits in the middle of pink sunset colors and house boats as the earthís shadow looms low on the horizon. This is it. If I get these shots, my trip here is done.

    I set up my camera and begin taking pictures.
  • 06-06-2006, 12:45 PM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    A couple more shots.

    Edit: not uploading correctly will try again later.
  • 06-07-2006, 06:56 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Woohoo!!!! :thumbsup: You made it! I have been to Lake Powell twice now, but never came home with shots like this. When I think about Lake Powell, it always makes me wonder what we're missing. What spectacular landscapes are burried under all that water? :eek6:

    I wanna hear more. Where did you go next?
  • 06-08-2006, 07:54 AM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Well next I went...

    Oh, you almost got me! HA, you'll have to wait!

    ... and wait...

    That's a really interesting comment about the underwater landscapes. Maybe we chould petition to drain the lake and find out :D
  • 06-08-2006, 07:26 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Originally Posted by walterick
    That's a really interesting comment about the underwater landscapes. Maybe we chould petition to drain the lake and find out :D

    Wouldn't that be something!! After a couple trips to the desert SW and a bunch of Edward Abbey books later, it really makes me wonder what we have lost in the name of progress. Glen Canyon is always the first place that pops into my mind when I think about stuff like that. Don't get me wrong, I think the lake is beautiful, but I would rather be hiking in the canyon, than water skiing across the lake. Then again, maybe that's just because I don't have a boat! :rolleyes5:

    I have read and seen some images from some areas of the canyon that are becoming visible again as the water level in the lake drops do to drought. Some very beautiful places under all that water.
  • 06-30-2006, 07:48 AM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Well, believe it or not, I actually took the time last week to finish my story. Here it is, all the way to the end!

    Thanks to those who read and took the time to comment. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support!

  • 06-30-2006, 07:52 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    The small, bedside alarm says 7:30 am. I stare out the hotel window from my position in bed. Can’t see much.

    I wonder if it snowed. Or if it’s raining. It looks overcast. Is that snow in the tree branches? How lucky I am to have gotten in my photography when I had the chance. Last evening may have been my final shot at decent lighting this whole weekend. I wonder what I will do for the next 2 days.

    I roll myself out of bed and crack my neck from side to side. Let’s see what the weather is doing out there. If it’s not too bad, maybe I could drive around town. My four wheel drive should be able to handle whatever snow has fallen. I creak up to the window to peer out.

    Just in time to see the sun rising on a gorgeous red mountain chain across the valley. No rain, no snow. No grey clouds. Just the sunrise on another beautiful Arizona day. I’ve been duped! I flip on the weather channel. Sunny, is the forecast. I feel a little sheepish for not having gotten up to see the sunrise now. Well, yipee!

    It’s cold at Lake Powell. This isn’t the Phoenix weather I am used to. As I stand beside my camera on its tripod, waiting for the self timer to tick down, I shove my hands into my pockets. Twenty degrees! This is blasphemy!

    I have driven back to the marina to catch what’s left of the early morning light. I feel better for having missed the actual sunrise. I couldn’t have taken this cold. I adjust the aperture wheel on the Nikon and push the self timer button again. I bounce in place while waiting for the shutter to fire. Damn, it’s cold out here. I manage to fire off several frames of the lake in morning light before my tolerance for cold wears out. Well, it looks like sunny weather! The trade-off, it seems, will be the cold.
  • 06-30-2006, 08:05 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    The Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River is a place I have never been. I have seen it in photographs, marveled at its beauty, but had no idea where it was. Turns out, it’s here. Right here in Page.

    This is the next stop on my morning commute. After packing for the day and grabbing a “continental breakfast” in the hotel lobby on my way through the door, I find myself sitting in the parking lot of Horseshoe Bend. I am excited to finally see this elusive place. I am bringing all my camera gear, and plenty of warm clothes with me on this hike. Only a half mile to the view, but still cold enough to warrant layers.

    A half mile later, most of my layers have come off. As the sun rises higher in the sky, the temperature begins climbing rapidly. I am shedding layers like bad habits.

    The rock formations here remind me of the pictures of Zion I have seen. Thin layers of earth turned sideways staring into the sun. I snap a few of the earth as I make my way to the edge of the river overlook. A gaggle of giggles from the rise just behind me tells me others are on their way. I move on quickly. The edge is right here.

    Not much can prepare you for the view into the Horseshoe Bend. If you have been to Grand Canyon, you may feel a similar sensation here. After all, this is the same river that carves Grand Canyon only a few miles to the south. I tiptoe to the edge of the cliff and let a hoot into the canyon. It is beautiful!

    The sun is still low enough in the sky to cast deep shadows into the canyon. I snap a few pictures of the Bend before a small group of tourists come to the rim.
  • 06-30-2006, 08:23 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Lake Powell, at sunset.
    Lake Powell, again, at sunrise.
    The elusive, and newly discovered (to me) Horseshoe Bend.
    What else to do?

    I am living on borrowed time, in a weekend full of great weather and greater discoveries. In what should have been a snowy, rainy mess of a vacation, I am having a great time. Driving, exploring, and photographing. What more could I do?

    I am back in my truck, turning off 89 again and this time heading east. Monument Valley is ahead, on the border of Utah and Arizona. I’ve never been to the Tribal Park, only the free part known as the Valley of the Gods. Which, consequently, was nothing to sneeze at. My atlas shows it at about 2 hours. I think this would be a great way to finish out the day, hiking and photographing in that great Navajo land.

    Lakes, rivers, and mountains. All in a day. What more could I ask for?

    As I settle into my chair and prepare for the long drive east, a sign catches my eye as I whiz by at speed. Antelope Canyon? Out here? I knew it was in the area, I didn’t think it was open. I knew the Park Service wasn’t giving tours at this time of year. The parking lot sure did look open though. Hmm... I wonder.

    I wheel the truck around and head back toward the sign. Well, it wouldn’t hurt to look, would it?

    <img src=" 99">

    Carol is the name of the Navajo lady whose family runs tours to Antelope Canyon out of the parking lot, year round. Had I known this in Phoenix, I would have planned this trip into my itinerary. But, you can’t always believe all information is to be found on the internet. And sometimes, the best things are left to discovery.

    Carol’s four wheel drive pickup churns through the desert sand as we make our way to the mouth of the canyon. I am ecstatic. Only a few minutes ago I was headed down the highway to Utah. Now, I am being chauffeured through the desert to a place I didn’t think I would get to see.

    Amazing, how things work out.

    I caught her just as I was pulling into the parking lot. Another few minutes, and I would have missed my opportunity to be given a guided tour of the canyon by a Navajo guide. This is the biggest blessing of my trip so far. I begin writing this travelogue in my mind as I sit, grinning, in the back of her pickup. Surely, this is the stuff of fantasy!

    Slowly, the truck pulls to a stop.
    __________________________________________________ _______

    Antelope Canyon is divided into two sections: Upper Antelope and Lower Antelope. It is the Upper canyon that I am in today. The Navajo call this Tse’ bighanilini, or “the place where water runs through rocks.” It is the powerful force of erosion that has shaped this beautiful canyon.

    The canyon’s face continues to evolve to this day. Carol, my guide, tells us that the canyon is prone to flash floods at any time. Several people have lost their lives in this canyon, caught without warning in a flood. She goes on to tell me that the smaller floods actually raise the canyon floor, leaving behind sediment. The larger floods, however, can wipe out several feet of canyon floor at once. Had this weekend’s weather turned out any different, the canyon may have been impassable.

    Carol’s people still use the canyon for ceremony. I can’t imagine the impact of this tourism on their religious practices. She is kind in showing us around the canyon and telling us its stories. At one point, I ask when the best time for colors is. She informs me that right now, in the back of the canyon, there is a particularly colorful display going on. She allows me to scoot off by myself to photograph. I thank her, and move on take some more photos.

    I must admit, so excited was I to be photographing this place, I shot an entire “roll” of film empty in the Mamiya. Let it be a testament to the beauty of the place that I didn’t care. I was happy to be there.

    After spending my hour in the canyon and getting shuttled back to the parking lot, I thank Carol for her guidance and take her business card. I now know that there is no need to go through the park service to take tours of this canyon. I think Carol will be getting a call from me the next time I come to Page.
  • 06-30-2006, 08:38 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    I find myself racing again.

    Racing the sunset as I speed through Navajo land on my way to Monument Valley. How does this keep happening?

    My high from Antelope Canyon has not worn off. But the chance of driving several hours across the state just to get there after dark is daunting to me. The scenery here is beautiful, and I mentally try to make landmarks of where I should come back for night photography tonight. The tall mountains of elegantly shaped stone would look great silhouetted against a sky of swirling stars. Still, I press on, hoping I can make it to Monument Valley before sunset. Wasnít I in this same predicament only yesterday?!

    It is nearing sunset as I make the final turnoff onto the road to Monument Valley. Just in time, and I am happy. I cruise up the road, looking still at the amazing mountains around me. Surely, it is heaven to live on land like this!

    I pull up to the entrance to the park. Locked! Iíve come all this way for nothing. My mouth agape, I pull off the road into a camp ground. My luck, it seems, has finally run out. The entrance gate is closed, though the exit gate is still open for visitors to leave. No, Iíve come to far not to go on. I pull the truck back onto the road and drive around the gate.

    Inside, a Navajo tour guide meets me.
    ďHi, did you pay?Ē
    ďNo, there was no one there,Ē I say honestly.
    ďOh, well, if thereís no one there, I guess youíre okay.Ē He begins to walk away, but I catch him.
    ďAre there tours going on?Ē I ask him. He tells me there arenít, itís too late for that. But he tells me it is okay for me to stay here, at the welcome center, and take pictures.

    That was all I needed to hear.
  • 06-30-2006, 08:42 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Finally getting kicked out of the Tribal Park afer sunset, I spend the next few minutes driving around the nearby town of Oljato. I marvel at the rock formations here. I look around for a place to take night pictures. Up the road aways, I find a rock formation that looks like it would make a good silhouette. Feeling fairly conspicuous, I pull the truck off the road and set the tripod up on the shoulder. Locking the shutter open on the Mamiya, I spend the next 30 minutes sitting inside the truck eating cashews and listening to crackling pop stations on the trucks radio. Outside, the camera records the movement of the night sky.
  • 06-30-2006, 08:56 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    ************************************************** ***
    I awake the next morning feeling pretty complete. Iíve managed to cram just about everything possible into a two day weekend. Though originally scheduled to stay another night, I feel ready to go. I call home and tell them Iím on my way. Iíll crash the slumber party with pics and stories of the Lake Powell area.

    The only things I have missed on this trip were hiking and seeing the town of Page. I eat breakfast at a Dennyís and then drive around town, checking out local real estate for a feel on the prices here. I am happy to find the real estate here is cheap, and plentiful. I consider the possibility of buying a condo to renovate and use for getaways to Lake Powell, and its surrounding areas. How nice it would be to spend a getaway weekend here!

    Somewhere in my journey around town I come across a small hiking path. I get to take my hike while taking in new views of the lake. I bump into a few locals along the path. They seem very friendly. I have had the constant impression of how quiet it is here. And dark, at night. I wonder if the peace of the land somehow communicates itself to the people. Surely, the site of that lake every morning must imbue a sense of peace!

    I am all packed up, and checked out of my hotel. I consider driving north, to the Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah to do some hiking. But a large cloud bank to the north tells me that the weather front is finally on its way. My weekend of grace is done. Itís time to leave.

    I drive over the dam one last time, to the top of the hill overlooking the lake. I take in a few last moments and snap a few last shots. I make a promise to the lake to return.
  • 06-30-2006, 09:07 AM
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    In the interest keeping this burgeoning travelogue short, I will not detail my trip back home. I did stop at several more interesting places along the way. And, a few that weren't so along the way. I won't give any descriptions, but I'll tell you what they are so that you can find them on your own if you want...

    1) Marble Canyon
    2) Vermillion Cliffs
    3) Navajo Reservation off 89A
    4) Navajo Reservation north of Flagstaff

    And thanks for looking!
  • 07-03-2006, 07:03 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Hey Rick,

    I'm glad you finally finished your travelouge!! I'm just now finding time to read it and I really enjoyed it, and the images as well. I'm glad you got to see Horseshoe Bend and Antilope Canyon. I wish I would have been into photography when I went to Antilope Canyon 10 years ago. (Wow, has it been that long already?) A tip for your next trip there, get everything set up just like you did for your photos, then grab a handfull or two of sand & dust from the floor, and throw it into the air in the area where your going to take your pic. Let the majority of it settle, then take your pic. That's what people do to get the "beam" of light in their photos like this one here. Never tried it myself, but that's how I heard it's done. :)

    I did sit down one day and finished writing the story that was going thru my mind from this spring. Perhaps one day it will end up as a thread here for all to read.

    Thanks again for finishing and sharing your story with us.
  • 07-03-2006, 09:37 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate you taking the time to read through it all :)

    I hadn't thought about tossing dust in the canyon. My tour guide told me that the shafts of light don't begin showing up till a few weeks later. Apparently they only come from March to November (?) She also says the place is jammed full of photographers then :) So, maybe someday I'll get to see the shafts of light. And, I'll be certain to remember your trick!

    Hey I'm glad you finished your story. Are there pictures to go along? If so, I bet it would make a great Viewfinder thread. If no pictures, we'd love to have it in Off-Topic :)

    Thanks for commenting!

    (My next travelogue is already about done :D)

  • 07-04-2006, 02:55 PM
    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell
    Yup, I have some pics to go with it. I just have to round them all up. :)