Tag Archives: Zion National Park

Wild Moments in the Wilderness Close Call #5: Quicksand

9 Jan

During my wilderness travels, there haven’t been too many things more startling than stepping into an area you think is solid, only to instantly sink up to your knees in sand or mud. It’s stepping in quicksand and it has happened to me on several occasions in Zion National Park. The first time I encountered quicksand was during a through hike in the Narrows with a buddy of mine about four and a half years ago. I was aware of the potential hazard, but it is very difficult to perceive where the danger is, meaning you basically have to experience it. When you step in quicksand you are generally taken off-balance because your momentum is stopped cold. So while you think you should be walking, you’re not, resulting in a mild whiplash type of effect. In this instance, I stepped almost up to my thighs and lost one of my boots in the process. Luckily, I was able to retrieve it, regain my composure, and move on.  Make no mistake about it, stepping into quicksand requires quick thinking.

While in Zion this past fall, I had another near miss with quicksand, only this time it was in swift moving water that was almost waist deep. As I was moving slowly into the water to try to set up for a picture,  I could feel the sand give out much too quickly underneath my feet as I lightly stepped into the deeper section to test the current. Immediately I knew it was trouble and backed off. This wasn’t something you could see, as it was actually beneath the water in some fairly deep rapids.  A serious situation in which in an unsuspecting person could have conceivably been seriously injured or drowned.

Dangerous Times - This was the area that had the quicksand. I wanted to get into those rapids, but what lurked beneath made it much too dangerous.

In another instance during the same trip, I was walking through a canyon in Zion’s eastern section near the Checkerboard Mesa, where I carelessly stepped into a shallow patch of quicksand. This instance was quite surreal because I was in a side canyon and was intently searching my surroundings for photo opportunities.  As I walking, the ground looked solid and I was looking up and boom, right up my knees in quicksand!

This time I really banged up my shin and almost ruined my camera which I was carrying on my tripod.  The quicksand caught me so off guard I actually put my camera down in it for a split second, getting dirt and sand in its controls. It took more than a week for my shin to heal, another half hour to clean my camera, and my shoes to this day still stink from that episode.

Bottom line is,  make sure you are educated on the areas where quicksand is a potential hazard. Be aware and mentally prepared for any encounter.  I keep a very level head in the wilderness, but I’ve been caught off guard several  times. If you get stuck, don’t struggle or wiggle to get out. Try to free up one leg at a time or if you are up to your waist, lift yourself out and roll onto the mud.  Remember it’s the first 30 seconds after it happens where you can really get yourself into trouble, especially if you are carrying expensive camera equipment. Be sure to use a hiking stick to probe areas that lock suspicious. Be alert and prepared and have fun! I hope you enjoyed this post, if so, please let me know. I’ll post later this week with number four.

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Call in the Relief

10 Nov

Michael returned from his trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks a bit weary and road worn, but with some tremendous new images. While fall colors were somewhat shy of their peak, weather and lighting conditions were quite favorable, allowing him to capture new Narrows images as well as images from the Subway and Kolob Canyon. He and his traveling buddy spent a good deal of time hiking, scouting new locations, and of course, stopping to catch up on the latest sports activities. They also had the good fortune of spending some time with a photographers Michael met through Flickr. It was a personally rewarding trip with a great time had by all.   

 While he was away, Induro, the manufacturer of the tripod Michael uses in his work, had him as the featured artist on their blog. The profile, Michael Greene on Nature’s Trail, provides a brief biography, some details about his photographic style and outlines how he prepares for field work. The blog also showcases several of his best images. It is a great piece, so please check it out.

 Lastly, you may wonder why this blog was not written by Michael. I have the same thought as I wrap it up. We are extremely busy preparing for the Tempe Festival of the Arts. It is one of the largest art festivals held in Arizona and we will have a booth there December 2-4. Stop by if you happen to be in the area! As you can imagine, there is a great deal of work involved in getting ready for a show. We are editing new images, re-editing, having images printed, matted and framed, as well as a myriad of other duties. My “to do” list included updating the blog, so although I am not as gifted an author as Michael, I do hope you enjoy it.

 Joyce

Zion Narrows Workshop and How $6 Feeds Two While Camping

1 Jul

We just returned from an exciting trip to Great Basin National Park as well as another Narrows adventure in Zion National Park. We had a wonderful time, learned lots of new things, met new people, made some improvements, and are looking to build on the momentum into next year’s 2nd Annual Zion Narrows Small Group Workshop. I’ve posted the information on my website – you can find it here.   Briefly, I’d like to discuss the advantages of this workshop with you. 

If you have ever wanted to hike and photograph the narrows this is your chance! Literally, I’ve been up and down that river so many times, and combined with my vast canyoneering experience, you’ll have the best guide possible for slick, water travel while carrying expensive photography equipment. I’ll show you where and how to cross difficult sections of rapids, check the depth of the water in questionable places, and assist you in your photography in every way possible. You’ll learn what lenses to bring, what to wear and expect, and how to get the best images possible.

I truly believe this is the best way to maximize your experience. This is an incredible opportunity and group size is limited to seven participants. There is a discount for signing up early and if the workshop sells out I will offer more workshops later in the summer and possibly for the fall as well.

What’s even more, we met with just about every hotel general manager in Springdale to secure the best lodging opportunities,  and feel confident we are offering the best of both worlds when it comes to accommodations and instruction. This is an awesome opportunity. Please contact me for more information or see my website on the link above.

Now, I’d like to briefly revisit my trip to Great Basin National Park. This is an incredible National Park, one of my absolute favorites. I hope to be offering small group workshops there in the future. I will write specifically about the features of this park in the future, but  for now I want to share a campfire recipe I created and used for the first time when visiting this park.  The beauty of this recipe is in its cost. Most of the ingredients can be purchased at your local 99 cents store, making it a low-cost, yet healthy and tasty alternative to packaged meals.

Michael Greene’s Campfire Chili for Two

1 large can or two small cans of crushed or diced tomatoes

2 small cans total of either: pinto, black, or kidney beans (you can mix them)

chili powder, various seasonings 

These simple ingredients are enough to make the chili for two. It will cost approximately $3-4 and that’s using organic products well! Here are some additional ingredients we came up with:

8 – 12 oz ground beef – you can freeze it at home, and make chili the first day of your trip or just pick some up at a store nearest your campsite

3 – 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

4 packets of Wendy’s Chili Sauce (optional)

Dried or fresh white onions (optional)

Make sure you are at a campground that has a grill. Build your fire and after about 10 – 15 minutes you should have a sufficient enough ember bed to begin cooking. During the entire time of cooking, it is best to keep your fire going if possible. If you are cooking with meat – cook that first on its own so you can drain the fat. Cook the meat on its own for 5 – 7 minutes. When 75% cooked, add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes and meat cook for a f ew minutes until they being to boil. Add the beans and the spices. Depending on the heat intensity of your fire,and your patience, the beans should cook anywhere between 7-10 minutes or longer if you prefer. The cheese and/or fresh onions should come at the end. This makes a large meal for two adults or can even be split up into 3 portions for those with smaller appetites.

Next Monday, we’ll start again with another episode of the top National Parks to visit in the summertime. Have a fantastic July 4th weekend!

In the Field for the Next Week

19 Jun

I just wanted to give you all in cyber world a quick update to let you know I’ll be out-of-town for the next week in the field. We are taking a relatively quick trip to Great Basin National Park and then another short stop over in Zion to spend sometime in the Narrows. I should be back in about a week or so with even more new images to share with you. Have a wonderful week, God Bless, and we will talk to you soon!

Michael

Tips for Peak Season Travel in Our National Parks

20 Apr

Today, we’ll continue exploring ways to avoid the crowds while visiting the parks during peak season. To reiterate, so far, we’ve discussed:

• Avoiding holiday weekends
• Arriving earlier in the week as opposed to staying later
• Making all your reservations at least 3 months in advance
• Visiting less popular parks
• Vacationing after Labor Day

Another sure way to avoid the crowds is to utilize the first three hours in the morning and the last two hours before sunset. Get up, get out, and get going early! Even the most popular trails aren’t busy at time of day. Want to experience the geyser basins at Yellowstone without the crowds? Then go at 7am. I can assure you that you won’t regret it. If you do see people at this time, they are probably landscape and nature photographers.

Let me give you a quick example, a few years back I was fortunate enough to visit Zion National Park on Easter weekend. What I saw there I just wasn’t prepared for. The crowds were so enormous, I couldn’t get a parking spot inside the park. The town of Springdale, which sits just outside park HQ, was basically one large traffic jam. The shuttle buses were overflowing with tourists. The rangers estimated the park saw a quarter of a million visitors over that Saturday and Sunday alone.

During that day, I tackled what is arguably the park’s most famous and daunting hike, Angel’s Landing. For those of you who haven’t made the trek, let me just say this hike isn’t for beginners and can be extremely dangerous, in a few spots there are thousand foot drops. Well, on that particular day, there were literally hundreds of people on that trail. I honestly don’t know the mountains could have accommodated many more.

Fast forward a year or two and I am blessed to visit during June, certainly one of the most busy months of the year. My friend and I did the hike closer to sunset that day, and to our amazement there was practically no one on it. My point is this: utilize your time wisely even if it means getting up extra early or staying out late.

sunset is the best time to visit Angel's Landing

Take a nap during the day if you must, eat at off-peak hours, take a scenic drive over lunch, and whatever you do make sure you utilize “golden hours” as we landscape photographers call them. Tomorrow, I’ll continue on this subject we another invaluable tip on how to maximize your stay while visiting the parks.

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