Monday, April 8, 2013


A couple weeks ago, I reunited with some college friends in Zion National Park.  It's a trip that has been on our minds for a long time and a break that all of us were eagerly looking forward to.  Located in southern Utah, Zion is a desert landscape with huge rock formations, terraces, canyons and about a billion wild sage bushes.  Here's our trip in a nut shell.  

The above picture is Angels Landing, a rock formation measuring 1,488 ft and about a mile above sea level.  This was the first hike we did. 
I took a bunch of pictures on the way up, but most of them were just less impressive versions of this shot, taken near the top.  Even though I knew I had already gotten good shots of this, it was hard to stop myself from taking so many pictures.  It was unbelievably magnificent.

This landscape definitely was new to me with all the rust, mustard, brown and pale greens pitted against the almost turquoise blue sky.  

This is a look from the top on the other side of Angels Landing.   Being pretty uncomfortable with heights, I was tempted and challenged with all the great sights below and the intense vantage point.  But I feel like I overcame some of my fear on this trip, willingly getting close to edges to see what was below.

Here is an almost complete group shot at the top. You can probably tell by now that we had some pretty nice weather.

Here is Casey at the top.  I always find it hard to get a spacial feel in photos like this, but the tiny little trees on the rocks across gives you some perspective.  

Angels Landing, along with most of the other well visited sights of the park is located on the east side.  We rented a house on the west side of the park atop a terrace, where very few people visit.  We were lucky to be so isolated and have a lot of the park to ourselves. 

Here is a shot of a rock formation right outside our house.  It is literally a 15 minute hike away and probably another 10 minutes to a very cool lookout. 

From our lookout, you can see where the terrance ends and drops off.  You can also see another rock formation very close to our house.

From where I took the last picture, if you turn left, you can see the landscape below the terrace.  Almost every evening one group went to this lookout for the sunset.  I think contemplative, peaceful and humbling are words that can start to describe the feeling of being up there. 

This is our friend Nico, the daredevil whose threshold for fear baffled us all, looking over the edge of a rock that he jumped across to get to.  We were all temped to join him, but realized there wasn't a clear way of getting down.

Last shot from the lookout at dusk.   

About a mile north of our house were rocks with caves!  
You can see the entrance to one of the caves we explored on the left.

Here is a look up from the entrance of that same cave.  It's a short, narrow path through rocks to get to the cave, which has a small opening inside to the sky.

To really appreciate the cave, you have to climb up a short, somewhat steep incline to get a nice view.  There was probably a good amount more of the cave we didn't see as that climb was a bit beyond our capabilities.

The second cave we saw was a trip to past.
THIS is a cave drawing in the second cave.  Hank, the owner of the property we were staying on, told us that these were probably drawn over 800 years ago.  800!  It is hard for me to wrap my head around that much time.

Here are some shots of the ceiling of that cave.
This looks like a horizontal shot, but it's actually looking straight up.  To the left is the entrance of the cave with some reflected light on the right.  The colors were amazing.

This is another shot looking straight up.  All of the black you see is carbon from the years of fires that warmed these ancient people in the cave.  

I think the thing that most captured me in Zion was the light.  Near dusk, you could look at a rockface and see it change with the moving light, exposing new features and creating new colors.  The sky, with its fluffy clouds, changed shape and color constantly.

On one day in particular, the light that entered the house was too perfect.  It felt like we were on a highly stylized movie set.

This is Richmond, finding some dramatic light while enjoying a cold one.

 Here is a shot from our house, looking across to all of these amazing rocks and their layers.

You can't really tell from what I've said here that we all had a ton of fun.  We were adventurous, free, silly and relaxed; the perfect combination for a reunion of friends.