Sunday, July 16, 2017

May 21 -- Bryce Canyon National Park, part 1


Here is a link to the interactive expedition map.

Good morning, May 21!  This is the view looking north from our hotel room. 

We couldn't book a room in Bryce Canyon National Park for the full time we wanted to stay there, so we got a room in the Best Western right outside the park for the first two nights.  We stayed in the big hotel building on the east side of the road that (eventually) goes through the park.  (There are lower hotel buildings on the west side of the street.)  It was very nice, and had a very nice breakfast every morning.  I believe you could walk a short distance from the place we stayed and catch a shuttle into the park.  Parking is limited inside the park, so shuttle riding is encouraged when it's crowded.  We didn't have any trouble parking in the park before Memorial Day, but I bet it's a problem as the season heats up.

There are many view points inside Bryce Canyon National Park.  This one is inside the park, but not inside the ranger station where you pay (or show your pass) to enter the park.   Note the elevation -- getting close to 7800 feet.

The rangers here will tell you that a "canyon" is land that has been carved down by running water over millennia.  The Grand Canyon is a canyon.  Bryce is really not a canyon.  No river was involved.  Bryce was formed by water seeping into the sandstone, and freezing and thawing, causing the porous rock to crumble and tumble.  So -- it's called a canyon, but it isn't one.  Fairyland "Canyon" isn't one, either.

But it's really cool.

It's really hard to get decent pics of the enormous landscapes in the west.  There's something interesting near, far, and in between.  When we are there in person, our eyes switch focus and exposure so easily as we look around a place like this that we aren't even aware of it.  The camera, on the other hand, picks something (perhaps with some guidance from us), and then decides how to focus, how much light to let in, which colors to lean toward.....

Any picture is only a tiny fragment of the experience of being there.

Here's a panoramic video.

These formations are called hoodoos (which is what the first nations people called them).  The water that seeped down, and froze, over the millennia, seeped down in something like a grid.  First a fin would form (or a group of fins), and then the fins would be cut into individual spires.....

Formations something like this can be found all over the world, but Bryce has the most, by far, and perhaps some of the biggest (if I remember correctly).

You can find these big plastic relief maps in many of the western parks.  I really like this bird's-eye view.

Fairyland Point is shown at the top center of the image below.  We all wanted to see it, and our daughter was going to take a hike.  She walked on that dark dotted line along the rim of the "canyon" from Fairyland Point (top center) to Bryce Point (bottom center) and back to the lodge (left, just below center).

Our daughter wanted to walk the Fairyland loop, which goes down into the "canyon" on another day.  She and her dad walked over to the start of the loop trail (which you can see on the map above), and I stayed behind the nice sturdy fence near the parking lot.

This is a tighter crop of the above.  The trail is that lighter line you can see going around the stone wall, upper left, above.  You can see that it follows the side of the "canyon."

This next one is the same image as above, with a magenta line below the line of the trail.  There are many realities here. The trail is gravel.  The drop off isn't too sheer, here, but it's a long way down.  Note how the stone wall below the trail, in the upper left, has fallen down in the not very distant past.

The processes that result in this landscape are still happening.  The "canyon" rim moves back by some number of inches in every time span (it varies, but is noticeable to those whose job it is to maintain the trails).......

The book on my phone (to help me go to sleep when I want to be sleeping rather than thinking about random things) while we were on this trip was A Hat Full of Sky (by Terry Pratchett).  It is a wonderful book, about which I will say more at some future time.  In the course of the book, Tiffany Aching (the protagonist) discovers she's afraid of ... depths.  Not heights -- she is very comfortable looking up at the tallest tree, or the highest mountain.  But she learns she is not at all comfortable flying over trees or mountains on a broomstick.

I learned on this trip that while I am not afraid of heights or depths, I am afraid of falling.

As long as I am enclosed in a nice airplane or skyscraper, or have a nice fence to stand behind, I am just fine looking down at depths.  But put me on a gravel path on the side of a cliff, and I am really not fine at all.  My biology could tell beyond a doubt that one misstep could easily mean disaster.  (I am quite sure a person would not survive a trip (pun intended!) to the bottom in many places.............)

Of course, when offered the possibility, people are found in all sorts of places where no one is supposed to be.  It was a constant issue for me to NOT look at them and NOT think about where they could just as well end up in the next matter of seconds.  I did not take pictures of those people, but I wished they would stay on the path as we were all admonished to do...............

People do fall, and people do die as a result (and I suppose a lot more are maimed than die).  One wonders what those numbers are.  Given the numbers of people I saw doing all kinds of risky things, and the fact that I believe no one fell while I was present, people must be better at moving in this sort of landscape than seems likely to me.  But still.  One misstep.....................

Ok.  Turning our minds away from people being stupid about edges.

My family went toward the loop trail a little ways, and I stayed up here behind the nice fence and looked out.

This little tree is living on the edge.  Maybe just a bit over the edge.

This is a closer crop of the upper left of the above, to show that there are more and more hoodoos back and back into the distance.....

Hooray for zoom lenses.  My current camera has only 6x optical, but that's a LOT better than 0x.....

Here go my better half and daughter, on their way to check out the beginning of the trail she will take.  CB -- note clothing.  I think it was in the 60s this day.

In case you've been feeling impatient at how long it's taking me to work on these pics, here's why.

With a view this big, it's pretty much impossible for the camera to expose the whole image properly.  This one has the sky exposed nicely, which makes everything else too dark.

Here's the same image after substantial doctoring.  I selected just the sky, and made it a new layer.  I believe I left it alone.

Then I selected the land in the background, which I brightened up and sharpened up a bit, and probably lowered the blue.  (I find when you try to de-haze images, they end up too blue....  At least with my camera they do.)

Then, having selected away the background and the sky, I messed with the foreground, lightening and sharpening (and lowering the red, which often gets to be "too much" in this situation).

The *changes* are really a piece of cake, for the most part, but the breezy "I selected" can take a really long time.  Sometimes it's quick, but other times, I know what I want, but Photoshop Elements just can't see what I want.  I think the selection is probably better in a newer version, and that would be worth the price of admission.....

Anyway, the point is it can take me more than an hour to do one pic.

Back to the regularly-scheduled program.  Is this an amazing landscape, or what?

The trees here have learned to manage in this harsh environment. They grow their roots deep, and they concentrate on growing those roots up hill.  This can help them survive when the ground falls away from their roots.  The tree at center, top, is still alive, despite the fact that it is standing on tippy-toes to reach the ground.

Above you can also see the nice sturdy fence that was helping me feel secure about 6 feet or less from the precipice.

Looking back at my family again.  With all the zoom I have, they are barely visible in the upper left quadrant.

This next image is a closer crop of the above.  My camera's sensor really doesn't have enough pixels to be comfortable about this close a crop, but you can see what's going on.  In addition to the people, you can see that there's a sign to help people decide which way they want to go.

I wasn't there when this was taken, but I think the rocks she's standing in front of might be visible just left of my better half in the above image.

Walking back to where I was.

She's gone off on her hike, and we are headed for the car.  This looks like phlox to me....

I bet it's easier to grow when you land farther from the edge.

Cool bark.

Lots of pine cones.  And shed needles.

Here is a link to the next post about the Grand Canyon expedition.


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