My last post on my Grand Adventure, the second part of some photographic highlights. I hope you managed to read the first part, but if not, here’s the link (https://mjhmusings.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/memories-of-the-desert-part-1/). Now, I finish with the last 14 images, each capturing a different unforgettable moment of my adventure.
- Glorious Ruins
If any pictures captures the riot of colours, the variety of forms and the sheer majesty of Bryce Canyon, then it is this one. On a glorious autumnal day we saw the amphitheatre at its best: hoodoos, spires and turrets basking in the sun, tall pines framed against the blue sky and subtle paths weaving through the wonders. Come here if you want to see the natural world at its eccentric best.
- Angels Ascent
This was the point where the climb up to the lonely peak of Angels Landing became not just hard work, but hair-raising too. No more than fifteen feet across, the path zig-zagged up the spine of the monolith with sheer drops of a thousand feet and more on either side. This was a pilgrimage for the thrill-seekers. The prize? Unbelievable views of Zion Canyon from above – an angel’s eye view.
- Angels 360
This panorama shot from my S4 Galaxy gives a feel for the top of Angel’s Landing: its knife-edge summit, the steep slopes that join it to the main canyon-wall and the stupendous views on either side. On the left is the view towards the end of the summit, where it looms over a meander in the Virgin River; on the right is the nearer part of the summit, beyond which is the route of our climb.
To gee up my flagging energy after my conquest of Angels Landing I was listening to some music on the way down. When I got to this point the shuffle landed on ‘Magnificent’ by Matt Redman, a song that truly captures the majesty of God. So struck was I by this view that so superbly reflected the message of the lyrics that I had to stop and just bask in the glory of God, put on full display in Zion Canyon.
- Virgin Valley
This is the Virgin River, the force that has carved Zion Canyon from the colourful layers of sandstone and limestone. Beneath the soaring splendour of the cliffs and peaks all around, it offers a more serene beauty, flowing innocently along between banks sewn with wildflowers and lined with cottonwoods.
- The Fleeting Vision
We were so lucky to see this moment. Indeed, I barely captured it at all because the weather had been so rotten all day that I had left my main camera behind, so certain was I that we would see nothing through the clouds from Bright Angel Point. How wrong I was, and how fortunate to have a good camera-phone on my person. Just as the sun was setting, the clouds briefly parted to offer a vision of grandeur – the sun-basked buttes and temples of the North Rim. It was like getting a glimpse of another world. Below was the deep-cloven North Kaibab Trail that would lead us down into the heart of the canyon the next day. As quickly as it had come, the vision disappeared like a dream.
- Exploring the Deep
Down below the rim, lost in an ancient landscape, we wandered the North Kaibab Trail that never seemed to end. Timeless clouds rolled in o’er the colossal temples that defy the millennia in a long losing battles, and here were we, passing in the blinking of an eye, barely a ripple in the canyon’s history.
- River’s View of the Rim
There’s a billion years’ worth of history in this photo. We’d come so far, felt like we’d been walking for years, when the distant North Rim suddenly came back into view. The intervening buttes stood to one side and let us glimpse our starting point across countless layers of geologic narrative. So near, and yet so far.
- Oasis Frame
This was taken from within the cool, shaded sanctuary of Indian Garden, a thin oasis in the middle of the otherwise barren Tonto Platform. We’d just climbed up from the Colorado River, up out of Granite Gorge, and this would be our resting place before attempting to tackle the South Rim wall the next day. I love how the golden-greens of the cottonwood trees softened and beautified the red, brown and white canyon walls.
The afternoon I wished would never end. Alas, those lazy hours of afternoon and evening passed all too quickly, a fleeting lightshow of scarce-imagined colours. At Plateau Point, overlooking the Colorado River, when the sun had gone down and dusk was deepening, all I could do was sit and contemplate, and try and eke out that memorable moment as long as I could.
- Valley of the Blue-Green Water
Most of Havasu Canyon is dust brown or rust red, dry and lifeless. The exception is the canyon floor, where life suddenly explodes into abundance. Havasu Creek is responsible for this burgeoning beauty, the river providing a literal lifeline through the gorge. The water is a startling blue, thanks to the minerals in it, and the banks are lined with verdant plants and trees, hence Havasupai, Land of the Blue-Green Water. Or, as I now think of it, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
- Cascade of Life
Navajo Falls in Havasu Canyon is the first of three major waterfalls that grace the creek with spectacular steps. We never made it to the lowest, Mooney Falls, but Navajo is broader and shorter than the more famous Havasu Falls. It is ironically named after a tribe who don’t even live in the canyon. You can see the sheer blueness of the water here, not to mention the many-threaded beauty of the waterfall itself. An astoundingly lovely place.
- Canyon Waters
Water defines Havasu Canyon – it cut it in the first place, then eroded it into a thousand architectural forms, and now graces it with life and exuberance. I have other photos which capture the majesty of the big falls, the amazing colour of the pools, the stark contrast between creek and canyon-wall, but this photo captures the vitality of the waterway and its many-tiered descent along the canyon floor. I felt so alive when I was there, and now, as I look back at it, I find myself revitalised on this cold and gloomy winter’s day.
- Last Glimpse
It’s goodbye from me for now, as this glimpse was goodbye to Grand Canyon National Park. A sumptuous meal in El Tovar was between courses when I stole outside to savour the sunset. The canyon, which I had now explored in many ways, was slipping back into velvety darkness, and we were leaving. Thank you for reading – I hope you’ve appreciated looking at these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them and talking about them.