Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Sunlight

We spent our last night on the San Juan River at Fossil Stop Camp (mile 20.3).  Shortly before sunset, the clouds to the east and the canyon walls across the river from us reflect the sun's rays. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Sunlight

From our camp at Chinle Wash, the morning sun on September 30 gave us a view of Lime Ridge across the San Juan River from us and of mist rising from the river.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


River House Ruin

On September 29, we walked from our campsite on the San Juan River to the River House Ruin.

 The friendly staff gave me a room with a view.

As was the case two years earlier, we had the place to ourselves.  Not counting any ghosts of the ancients, that is.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Wildlife

Paddling the Llano River at flood stage on September 22, 2013, involved lots of stops to scout the rapids and try to pick out which of the many channels to take.  This fairly large lizard was sunning itself on one of the large limestone outcroppings next to one of the rapids.  It appears to be a greater earless lizard (Cophosaurus texanus).

Note:  Click on a photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


San Juan Hill

On our second day on the San Juan River, the seven of us made the short walk from our campsite to the River House Ruin.  We then broke into smaller groups to explore the area to the west of the cliff dwelling.  Michael Portman and I ended up on the sloping eastern face of Comb Ridge.  I have previously posted photos of the imposing western face of Comb Ridge at sunset.

Michael and I located the remains of the wagon road constructed by the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition to ascend San Juan Hill, which is what the settlers named this section of Comb Ridge.  After climbing to the top of the trail, I enjoyed spectacular views of Comb Wash below me along the steep western flank of the ridge.  The expedition had followed Comb Wash southward to the San Juan River, where a gap in Comb Ridge provided access to the east side of the ridge.  With no route for a road along the river, the Mormon pioneers then cut a road back up the eastern flank of the ridge.

The bottom of the trail is marked by these signs.  To read the interesting (and somewhat gruesome) account of the Mormon pioneers' determined ascent up San Juan Hill, click on the photo above.

A concise sign post marks the beginning of the trail.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Sunlight


August 10 brought us this year's perigee of the moon, the moon's closest point to us in its orbit around our planet.  This "largest" full moon of the year fortuitously arrived while we were visiting/working at our Amen Mountain Deck Home, which is located at an elevation of 9,600 feet in Garfield, Colorado.  So I guess we were even closer to the moon than most earthlings.

The rising "supermoon" illuminates the mist rising up our valley in this handheld shot taken from the deck of the cabin.  I'm almost glad that I didn't have my tripod with me.

A couple of days later, the morning sun lights up the same mountain ridge.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Tunnel Vision

On our way to the San Juan River in late September, Kathy and I spent a night at Canyon De Chelly.  In the morning, we hiked down the White House Trail to the ruin which gives the trail its name. 

The trail passes through two tunnels.  These photos are of the upper tunnel, located near the beginning of the trail.

Kathy's photo looking back up the trail.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Wildlife

I encountered an animal's tracks on September 30 while hiking to the sandstone bluffs just to the east of Chinle Wash.  We were camped nearby on the San Juan River.  Recent rains had left small ponds of water in this desert environment, and the soil was moist in these drainage areas.  My recollection is that these prints were about two to three inches in length.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


 Michael(s), Row the Boat Ashore

On October 1, our fourth day on the San Juan River, we paddled from Chinle Camp (mile 8.4) to Fossil Stop Camp (mile 20.3).  Although the river had been running at about 850 cfs when we first launched our boats three days earlier, it had peaked at over 5,000 cfs during our first night on the river and its flow ranged from three to four thousand cubic feet per second this day.  

The standing waves were high and often troublesome, and those of us in canoes had to occasionally beach our boats to bail water.  The most formidable challenge we encountered was Eight Foot Rapid at mile 17.2.  We took the time to scout this rapid before running it, and were glad we did.  The preferred route at this water level was much different than it had been two years earlier, when the river had been running at about 950 cfs.

The two Michaels, Portman above and Scudday below, are shown at the bottom of Eight Foot Rapid.  They appear to be pleased, or at least relieved, by their successful runs.  And the rest of us were glad that we would not have to view (again) the clothes and equipment of one of them hanging in trees at our campground to dry.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Sunlight

The day following the end of our San Juan River trip was a busy one.  After a driving tour of the Valley of the Gods, we wound our way up the Moki Dugway, made a short detour over to the overlooks at Muley Point, and visited Natural Bridges National Monument.  We then headed east on Utah State Route 95 on our way to Bluff, Utah, for dinner.

Between us and our destination was Comb Ridge, which is a classic example of a monocline, a step-like crease in the Earth's crust.  It is a prominent geologic feature, almost 80 miles in length, in southeastern Utah and northern Arizona.  While on the river, we had spent three nights camping close to where it is cut in two by the river.  Now the highway would have to break through this barrier near its northern terminus.

As the road approached the western flank of Comb Ridge, the setting sun illuminated not only the steeply tilted sandstone rock layers, but also the moon.  In the photo above, the gash in the ridge near the center is the highway cut.

We pulled over at this breach in Comb Ridge to admire the view and the sun's handiwork.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Sign Language

While visiting the Four Corners area in early October, we encountered many instructive signs. These first two were posted at Natural Bridges National Monument.

Kathy (in the bright red shirt) refused to be intimidated at the ledge viewpoint overlooking Sipapu Bridge.  This viewpoint had apparently not yet been corralled.  Fortunately, it did not run amok during our visit.

What could possibly go wrong?

This sign at Kepler Cascades in Yellowstone National Park, which we visited in June, didn't need many words to convey its message.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wednesday Wildlife

This lizard appeared unfazed by our presence.  It was sunning itself in a small depression in the cliff face next to the petroglyphs located at about Mile 3.4 (as measured downstream from the Sand Island boat ramp) on the San Juan River.  Note that the lizard had lost its tail, which was now growing back.  My guess is that this is a northern plateau lizard (Sceloporus undulatus elongatus), a subspecies of the eastern fence lizard.  It may be a gravid female, although September 28 may have been a little late in the season for that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Signs of the Times

I guess that is one way to control the population of children, pets, and other invasive species.  This suggestion was at the White House Ruin overlook in Canyon De Chelly.

Was this warning at Natural Bridges National Monument supposed to encourage or discourage the adventuresome visitor (me) from proceeding further?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Sunlight

Sunset and Sunrise at Canyon De Chelly

The second day of our road trip to the San Juan River found us arriving at Canyon De Chelly National Monument in the late afternoon.  After checking in at the Sacred Canyon Lodge, we only had time for a quick drive along the South Rim Drive to the Spider Rock and Face Rock Overlooks.

The day was heading towards dusk when we made the short walk out to the overlook for Spider Rock.

As the sun began to set, it illuminated some distant showers both to the northeast (above) and the southwest (below) of the canyon.

We awoke early the next morning (Sept. 27) for a reason -- to watch the sun rise and light up the canyon walls.  We arrived at the Junction Overlook before seven o'clock.

Kathy looks expectantly to the east.

The sun begins to peak over the horizon.

The bright orb is momentarily trapped.

As the rock formations seem to catch fire around us, our view to the east includes the small town of Chinle and a high ridge in the distance.  What a great start to the day.

Reminder:  Click on any photo to enlarge.