Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Zion Experience in 24 Hours

When I think of Utah, the first thing that sifts into my mind is powder. Light, fresh powder that comes down hard and heavy in the winter months of the Wasatch Mountains.  Change seasons, head west from the Wasatch for warmer temperatures and changing landscape. Nestled in the southwest corner of Utah you will find one of the most unique National Parks in America; not that I have seen them all, but I rank it high on the list of the ones I have.

Over millions of years the Virgin River has been a contributing factor in carving one of the most spectacular canyons in the United States known as Zion National Park. Today, that same river still slots through the canyon, etching its mark on the Utah sandstone. Zion is trademarked by it's steep red rock cliffs, staggering canyons and unmistakable views.

In about a 24 hour period, I did what I could to find the most optimum hiking and unforgettable views. I love these opportunities to get back out West and explore. There's a since of energy from being out West that you can't find in big cities.  God created an immaculate world for us to explore and relish in the glory of His creation:

The view from outside Zion National Park provides a glimpse of what is to come. 

Weeping Rock

By far one of the shortest hikes in the park (5-10 minutes) up, provides what I considered to be one of the most unique views of the park and the pictures turned out to be some of the best. The D750 does a great job of capturing the falling or 'weeping' water off the enclosed perched rock.

Scout's Lookout/Angel's Landing

Probably the most photographed hike in Zion, and rightfully so. The hike starts on flat switchbacks and makes a quick push to up hill strenuous turns. The views are simply remarkable . The hike earned it's name as it was said the top point of the hike was so high, that only Angels could land atop it.   

Surreal views of Zion Canyon come into view on the uphill climb.

The view from below, before starting the most intense part of the hike. 

A series of  21 switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggle's. Easily the steepest switchbacks I have ever been on. The fact that a trail was built here is pretty incredible. 
The view from approach of Scout's Lookout. Stay up the top right to continue to  Angel's Landing; for those who don't mind 1,000 foot drops while tight-roping a chain link post (not me).

Reaping the rewards of Scout's Lookout. The rock a few feet ahead is a straight drop off.

The Hike to Angel's Landing is hairy and requires a chained rail the entire time as you are ascending across a massive rock ledge.  

When traveling alone, find someone else doing the same to share the hike with.  

Views of Zion Canyon coming down from Scout's lookout.

Views of Zion Canyon coming down from Scout's lookout. 

Probably the shot of the trip. Zion Canyon in all it's glory.
Standing up high, taking this light
I'm gonna see the shinning
Maybe there's an angel at my door

Riverside Walk to The Narrows

The last stop the Zion bus system runs to is the Temple of Sinawava. If your looking for a great last stop for your day in the park, this is it. Follow a paved path through the canyon for about a mile know as 'River Walk'. As you continue walking, the canyon narrows. The pave path ends, and your left to your own exploration of the Virgin River on one of the most unique hikes you will ever experience: 

River Walk approaching the Narrows

As the walk continues, the canyon narrows.

The water depth of The Narrows can depend on the time of year. Always check the forecast before starting the treck up the river. With the dry landscape, storms can create flash floods very quickly. 

Every turn you make around The Narrows provides a uniquely incredible view. 

Every turn leads to a new opportunity, a eye opening sight and a view that doesn't seem real. 

Silent beauty

Sizing up The Narrows is an arduous task. Anyone who loves the outdoors needs to experience this hike.

All Around the Park

More Virgin River Goodness
You are hard pressed not to see a few deer in Zion. 
Water Running into the Emerald Pools.

You won't find this upward outlook in a concrete jungle. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Illuminating Light

Smith Lake Moonlight on Friday July 31, 2015.

Sometimes too many words limit the story the mind wants you to tell. Simplify your thoughts and focus and what you believe to be the truth. 

The nature of the broken
Spirit of the chosen
We stand alone
Journey through the purpose

Monday, June 29, 2015

City Cement versus Mountain Air

When you live in a concrete fortress filled with millions of people, life in the city can be pretty draining and contains many unpleasantries. Atlanta specifically is full of cement and humid air. In the summer, the cement gets boiling hot and the air becomes thicker than an unopened jar of honey. In order to stay away from these city nuisances, it's imperative to get out of the city whenever possible (ie: every day you don't work) and position yourself by a body of water or elevation changes for comfortable temperatures. One way to cease that opportunity is to travel just a few short hours north west of this concrete bunker to the Highlands, North Carolina area.

Taking the city cement and replacing it with the mountain air always provide a sense of self reassurance and restoration that there is opportunity out there to explore the outdoors and thrive in it, should we choose to take advantage of it.

Rain clouds covering the mountain views atop Rabun Bald. 

Rainbow on Whiteside Mountain. 

Final scenes of Deliverance were filmed here. 

Sky Valley Golf Club. Mountains in the distance used to house a ski lodge.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Sky Lines and Solidifying Wins

Last night I was able to capture a vivid image of the Tuner Field sky line. The picture was taken on my D70 fish eye lens. This lens creates s a unique visual picture, as it's designed to capture a wide panoramic image.  With proper lighting and scenery, it creates an optimum picture scenario for this specialty lens.

Braves vs. Padres Tuesday June 10, 2015
It was a comfortable summer evening at the Ted. The Braves were able to win their second straight game against the Padres. Backed by a strong pitching performance from Williams Perez and a singles attack from the offense, (all 14 hits were singles) the Braves put together a sold win 4-1.

Through 59 games, the Braves sit one game below the .500 mark with a record of 29-30. In what has been an under-performing division to date, they are 2 games out of first place behind first place Washington coming into today's game. The 2015 team has been a fun team to watch, specifically comparing to 2014's team. They show a lot of fight and for the most part you get the feeling they are still alive in games. Are they bound for a deep playoff run? Probably not. But sitting over one third of the way through the season, they are not out of the picture. My hope is that this team will still be playing for the NL East or a wild card spot come the dog days of summer. Only time will tell if they can maintain a .500 or better record, but they have done a good job of proving the critics wrong to this point, and I see no reason why they can't keep that going.

First pitch is in 12 minutes. Time to get back to .500

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jackson Hole Condition Report: February 2015

Jackson Hole is in an ideal position right now. They have snow. Most of the west is lacking in snow; specifically California, Colorado, and even Utah is well behind their normal average total for February. Our time in Jackson consisted of very little snowfall; maybe six inches total throughout a seven day ski trip. With the dry conditions, smooth morning groomers and north facing slopes were the place to be for the week. Jackson was also experiencing abnormally, record high temperatures that made conditions seem like spring during most afternoons. You make the most of the conditions and remember your in an incredible place not everyone will have the opportunity to experience. In winter months in Jackson, you hope you never have a view of the Tetons, as it signifies snowfall. But when the clouds lift and the sky opens, the opportunity presents itself for majestic views:

Bluebird Jackson Hole - The only place for fresh tracks was in the backcountry. 

The backside of the Tetons as seen through the fish eye

By far the most frightening potato in Idaho

Jackson sun set as seen through the fish eye

Official Beer of the Tetons

Grand Targhee offers a nice change of pace from the large Jackson Hole crowds

Backside view of The Grand

Cloud Cover slowly lifting over the Tetons

Clouds cleared for an immaculate view of the Tetons