KachinBox-Elder tree leaves and flowers in April, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Springtime Colors at Natural Bridges

Kachina Natural Bridge in April, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Kachina Natural Bridge, April greenery.

Previously I have called the relatively bland scenery in canyon country after the deciduous leaves have fallen and before there is snow blanketing the cliffs as being “in between the colors”.

Kachina Singleaf Ash leaves and flowers in April, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Singleleaf Ash springtime leaves and flowers, White Canyon.

Oh, sure, since there are always the pinyon pines and the junipers, along with some evergreen shrubs, cacti and yucca there is always plenty of green around the high desert. But you don’t realize how much the brighter green of the cottonwood and box elder trees, the Singleaf Ash, and the shrubs and forbs add to the color mix in spring and summer.

Common Paintbrush wildflower, White Canyon, southeast Utah.

Common Paintbrush, White Canyon.

Which only makes one appreciate springtime that much more.

Silvery Lupine, White Canyon, Utah.

Silvery Lupine, White Canyon near Fry Canyon.

So last week I was able to hike down into White Canyon to visit Kachina Natural Bridge once again. I thought about how favorite trails get easier the more you hike them. Never boring; there’s always more to notice that you missed previously, or that has changed since last year.

Newberry's Twinpod wildflower, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Newberry’s Twinpod on the “beach” at Kachina Natural Bridge.

Down at the intermittent stream that drains White Canyon, Kachina Bridge was complemented by the bright springtime growth of the Fremont Cottonwood and Box-Elder trees about halfway leafed out.

Box-Elder springtime leaves and flowers, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Box-Elder tree spring growth: flowers hanging like strings.

Underneath the massive natural bridge — youngest of the three in the Monument — there is a large sandbar that we call the “beach”. It makes for a pleasant place to hang out, especially in afternoon sunshine. Though this day was overcast, allowing photos of the bridge and canyons without the usual high contrast of bright sunlit areas and deep shadows.

Petroglyphs on buttress of Kachina Natural Bridge.

Ancient inscriptions (petroglyphs) on Kachina Natural Bridge buttress.

On the beach were Newberry’s Twinpod, Mountain Pepperplant, and some others.

Wildflowers beneath Kachina Natural Bridge, White Canyon, Utah.

Spring wildflowers on the “beach” beneath Kachina Bridge.

As usual I paused to examine the numerous ancient inscriptions — both petroglyphs (pecked into the stone) and pictographs (painted on the stone, including handprints) — on the buttresses of the bridge.

Kachina Natural Bridge, White Canyon, Utah, in spring.

North Buttress of Kachina Bridge and pool of water in White Canyon.

Also another walk up to the sandy bench along the north buttress of the bridge. There is a very special area there, containing some small adobe structures (probably granaries or storage of special tools or ceremonial stuff), handprints, and many inscriptions pecked into the cliff face and adjoining boulders.

Kachina Natural Bridge Ruin, Natural Bridges National Park, Utah.

Ruin at Kachina Natural Bridge. Note the handprints on the cliff wall and the ghostly pictographs painted inside the low adobe structure.

Photo Location: Natural Bridges National Monument, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

 

 

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In Between the Colors: Out Of Winter

 

Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Sipapu Natural Bridge, early March.

Being well into my second year of living in southeastern Utah’s canyon country, I feel qualified to express a few things.

My favorite seasons of the year, as always, are autumn, spring, winter, and summer. Yes, in that order. I appreciate them all. But I sweat heavily while hiking in summer, and it can sometimes seem more like a bridge between the new life of spring and the glory of autumn colors. I love it too, even so. I am experienced enough in the high desert climate to take lots of water and salty snacks (electrolyte replacement, quite important) when I hike.

Stream pool reflection, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Pool reflection, Serenity Canyon, Natural Bridges.

This past fall, after a glorious spring and summer here in the high desert canyonlands, I suddenly felt blue. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, it just happened. Such an amazing visual ride for months…and then…suddenly the last leaves of the cottonwoods, Single Leaf ash trees, the shrubs, the brown grasses from earlier in the season…gone.

My awesome canyons seemed so drab all of a sudden. I longed for the first snows to brighten things back up. They came, and early, thankfully. Gorgeous snowstorms which I have documented on this blog a while back.

Then the winter moves on, but the green of spring has yet to arrive. The second in-between the colors time. The spring version. Early spring, late winter. However you’d like to frame it.

Serenity Canyon in early spring, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Serenity Canyon panorama.

But as always there was the ace in the hole: the trademark Utah high country blue skies.

With that in mind I once again descended the trail down to Sipapu Natural Bridge — second largest in the Americas, sixth largest in the world.

To see how things were. In a place as special (and relatively unnoticed) as this you can almost have the canyons and cliffs to yourself. Especially at this time of year.

Five hundred feet down in elevation to the bridge. Done. Appreciating it again, with my camera in addition to my soul: done.

Serenity Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Serenity Canyon, early spring.

Beneath the mighty bridge, the trail takes the casual visitor downstream. It’s a great hike. But I had a different date. I turned hard right up an unnamed side canyon that I love. Since it has no name on the map, I am naming it Serenity Canyon.

Few people go up there, despite the ease. I had walked it last year, and I felt slightly guilty that I’d procrastinated this long before returning. We all have our faults, our distractions.

I could tell nobody had been up there by the well weathered tracks in the sand of the canyon bottom. And there were few, even so. I was the first on this early spring afternoon, and I intended to make the most of it.

Serenity Canyon erosional pool in Cedar Mesa Sandstone, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Swirly-whirl pool in Cedar Mesa Sandstone, Serenity Canyon.

I was soon halted by a big pool of water. The snowmelt had filled it, and I was captivated by the reflections of the canyon walls. Tough lighting: deep shade and bright canyon walls above.

I was able to skirt the pool to the left, ducking beneath some cottonwood branches. Gradually up the canyon floor.

Eventually I was halted by a pour-0ff ledge. The remaining ice blocks were on the floor. I chastised myself for not being up there earlier.

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Last of the ice waterfall, Serenity Canyon.

Looking back downstream, I admired the bands of Cedar Mesa sandstone seemingly swirling around the pool of water. I made a number of exposures. Experimenting.

Then back down the canyon. And came upon some wildflowers that I’d walked past while going up the canyon, gawking at the stone walls above. Embarrassed that I’d missed them. But why should I be?

Parry's Biscuitroot, Lomatium parryi, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Parry’s Biscuitroot, Lomatium parryi

Back underneath Sipapu Bridge, I enjoyed some reflection shots of the mighty stone arc. While my boots slowly sunk into the mud of the stream.

Sipapu Natural Bridge, White Canyon, Natural Bridges National Mounument, Utah.

Sipapu Natural Bridge, from upstream, White Canyon.

The afternoon was late. I needed to say goodbye to the canyon bottom (for now) and hike back up out of it. Only 500 feet up to go, I reminded myself. What goes down into the canyon must go back up. I love the exercise. In my soul I like to feel that the canyon likes me, too. The appreciation. The alignment in energies.

What a beautiful, inspiring place. The relatively few visitors express amazement. They vow to come back, to spend more time here. They often do.

Meanwhile, I’ve had the extreme privilege to live here. Season after season.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

 

Moonrise over Bears Ears Buttes, Utah.

February Moonrise, Bears Ears

moonrise over bears ears buttes, from Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Moonrise over the Bears Ears Buttes, Feb. 20 at 5 PM, two days before Full Moon.

It was once again Full Moon time. Usually the best day for moonrise landscape shots is the evening before the Full Moon — the day before, rather than the day of Full Moon.

Two days before (Feb. 20), at 5 PM, an hour before sunset, the almost-full moon was rising over the Bears Ears Buttes, as seen from the Visitor Center at Natural Bridges.

Full moon rising over Bears Ears East Butte, southeast Utah.

Moon rising over Bears Ears East Butte at sunset, Feb. 21.

I once again turned to The Photographer’s Ephemeris (PhotoEphemeris.com) to help me plan my shoot for the following evening, Feb 21.

The moon would rise about 56 minutes later than the previous evening, almost at sunset. The Photographer’s Ephemeris also tell you the azimuth — the compass direction — that it will rise at. That helps immensely as far as getting in position to have the moon rise near an especially attractive landscape feature. In this case, the Bears Ears Buttes.

Full moon moonrise over Bears Ears Buttes, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Moonrise panorama, Bears Ears Buttes.

The only problem with having the time and azimuth of moonrise to work with is that it’s only exact for a flat landscape, like an ocean or the plains. If there’s a mountain in the way, the moon won’t be visible until it gets up high enough to clear it. And the moon doesn’t rise straight up, it arcs toward the south, here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Moonrise, full moon, Bears Ears East Butte, Utah.

Full Moon rising over Bears Ears East Butte.

I had been hoping to position myself so that the moon would rise directly between the two buttes. But by the time it came up that night it appeared over the right shoulder of Bears Ears East Butte from where I was standing. Oh, well, it would still make for an awesome scene.

Moonrise over Bears Ears Buttes, Utah.

Moonrise and last rays of sunset on the Bears Ears.

By the time the moon rose over the butte, it was almost sunset. The low angle of the sunlight put a somewhat golden glow on the landscape.

Then the sun was down and it was time for a twilight shot.

Moonrise over Bears Ears Buttes, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

Moonrise at dusk, Bears Ears.

I had been blessed with clear skies for this shoot. Since I had the next day off I would be free to travel. The following evening the moon would be rising at dusk, 15 minutes after sunset. By the time it cleared the mountains I had in mind, it would be very nearly dark. Still, it was worth a try. So to Canyonlands I went. Stay tuned.

Photo Location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

Norio Sasaki at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, eight months into his Americas Vertical Challenge.

Now For Some Real Inspiration: Nori Sasaki

Norio Sasaki, Americas walker, at Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Nori Sasaki at Natural Bridges Visitor Center.

A visitor came in to Natural Bridges and said, “You have a celebrity on his way in here.” What? Who? Is President Obama coming to check our area out before he declares a Bears Ears National Monument around us early next year?

No, it was a Japanese man that was pulling his “cart” across America. And he did indeed arrive at the Visitor Center not long after. Fit as a fiddle, with an irresistible smile, but only workable English, I asked him about his trip. He wasn’t, it turned out, walking across America (the U.S.). He was walking the Americas from north to south. He’d started at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, eight months ago–June. He was headed all the way to the southern tip of Argentina, a total journey of three years.

Ranger Steve Lacey and Nori Sasaki, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Park Ranger Steve Lacey was fascinated by Nori’s outfit and quest. Underneath the Alaska license plate is one from Okinawa.

His name is Norio (“Nori”) Sasaki, from Okinawa. He has worked as a lifeguard and in ski patrol, and he feels like protecting others is his duty.

Nori stayed in the park’s campground at my suggestion. He has been camping along the road–yes, even in the snow–all the way along his journey. He cooks his own meals, too. To stretch the money he has saved for his journey. He’s not soliciting donations. He’s self sufficient and happy.

Norio Sasaki leaving Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Nori Sasaki leaves Natural Bridges on his way southward through the Americas.

The “cart” (a modern day rickshaw, I think) allows him to bring along more necessities than the largest backpack could carry. But it’s human powered, no gasoline to buy.

Nori averages 25 miles per day pulling that 160 pound rickshaw! On favorable grades he trots along, he doesn’t merely walk.

Why is he doing it? He gave me a printed explanation in English (I won’t make any corrections to grammar, etc.):

Purpose of my trip

I have been in a career that protects the safety and life of others. I have worked as a ski patrol and lifeguard. To protect and care for others I need to be strong both physically and mentally. Strength gives me confidence in rescuing people. I believe strength also gives my mind room to afford caring for others. I train myself through my journey on foot in harsh conditions to be strong and to never surrender. I want to live my only life to the fullest to meet wonderful people and great nature. No scenery is as moving as one you earned upon hours and hours of hard walking. While traveling I have met lots of caring and helpful people. The geographical borders seem irrelevant when it comes to caring and helping others. I also want to do the same for others. I appreciate the encounters and will continue my journey on foot to my limit with smiles.

May peace prevail on earth.

— Norio Sasaki

I especially like that line “…strength also gives my mind room to afford caring for others.” Wow.

It’s a Quest. He could continue to stay strong by working out at the gym, and running every day! I think it’s more about the “to meet wonderful people and [experience] great nature.

After his night in our campground, Nori went around Bridge View Drive to see the three magnificent natural bridges. Then he returned to the Visitor Center with more questions. I got out detailed maps of the next part of his journey south from here, and showed him some great camping locations I’d been to.

And then it was time for him to be on his way again. I found myself almost dreading the moment, getting a little choked up. His English wasn’t good enough for us to keep in touch, but I gave him two small prints with my email address on the back, just in case.

You never know.

Norio Sasaki and the Bears Ears Buttes, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Norio Sasaki leaving Natural Bridges on Utah Highway 275, beneath the Bears Ears Buttes.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

Desert Cottontail rabbit and Rabbitbrush, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Hoarfrost Winter Morning

Moss Back Butte, from Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Moss Back Butte, from Natural Bridges Visitor Center.

After a very cold night in the single digits Fahrenheit, the morning was absolutely calm, no breeze. As the sun illuminated the snowy landscapes around Natural Bridges, the hoarfrost that had formed on everything overnight glowed in the early sunlight.

Desert Cottontail rabbit and Rabbitbrush, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Cottontail rabbit behind hoarfrost-coated Rabbitbrush.

That’s when hoarfrost forms: cold temperatures combined with high humidity and no wind.

Pinyon (pinon) pine cones and hoarfrost, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Pinyon pine cones and hoarfrost.

Which brings a gorgeous sunny morning with the sun lighting up the frost crystals.

Scrub Jay, winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Scrub Jay on a Pinyon pine twig.

The freezing cold doesn’t feel near as bad without a breeze, let alone wind. By comparison it feels quite comfortable.

Desert Cottontail Rabbit tracks and Rabbitbrush, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Cottontail rabbit tracks and Rabbitbrush: signs of mid-night feeding.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

Desert Cottontail Rabbit, winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Watching the Rabbits

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Desert Cottontail Rabbit in winter.

This counts as a “backyard wildlife” experience even though the little community at Natural Bridges National Monument is surrounded by millions of acres of wildland and wilderness. Wild animals do act differently when they’ve become conditioned to humans being around that show no intent of harming them. Like park rangers.

Because last winter I noticed how a Desert Cottontail rabbit that lives around our house has a spot where it likes to doze during many of the daytime hours in the winter.

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Cottontail in its midday napping spot.

It’s a perfect spot: it catches the midday winter sunshine, and has brush and other cover to break most of the wind, and also to protect the rabbit’s rear approach from any predator that might be sneaking up on it. But no brush facing south that would shade out the sunlight.

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Even better: the snow has melted underneath the bush, in between storms.

I was watching it again this winter. It started using its daytime napping spot again while there was still snow on the ground underneath the sagebrush bush. But as it warmed up the snow melted quickly underneath the bush, giving it an even warmer spot in which to laze the day by.

Cottontail rabbit habitat, winter snows.

Rabbit’s napping spot covered with snow, temporarily unused.

Then came our latest storm and the rabbit shifted to whatever other spots it likes better when the snow is soft and deep. Probably some other of the nearby sagebrush bushes that are even more sheltering, even though they don’t get any sunlight underneath them. A rabbit is well adapted to stay warm in the coldest of weather. Its sunny napping spot, when available, is a luxury it doesn’t need but clearly enjoys when available. Why not?

Desert Cottontail Rabbit, winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Desert Cottontail rabbit, hoarfrost morning. The shrub to the left is called Rabbitbrush, too.

Several mornings after the latest big snows, I was walking to work when a different rabbit was out near the Visitor Center. It, too, was accustomed to the rangers and staff coming and going, so I was able to get several good shots of him in the dazzling hoarfrost morning light.

Desert Cottontail Rabbit, winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Rabbit would rather linger a while longer, but I’m making him more nervous…

Desert Cottontail Rabbit, winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

See ya…rabbit decides I’m too close for comfort.

Until he finally had enough of my lingering, and moved off under the trees.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, southeast Utah.

Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

 

White Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah in winter snow.

More Snow at Natural Bridges

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The Bears Ears Buttes, above Natural Bridges.

A weekend storm blasted in about a foot of snow over two or three days, depending on how you counted when the first storm started and when the second one, which was right on the tail of the first one, ended.

Mouth of Deer Canyon at White Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Mouth of Deer Canyon at White Canyon, Natural Bridges.

Lovely! Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah is an outpost. A self sufficient community. It was the first National Park Service unit to have a solar panel array installed to provide its electricity, in 1980, back when such a project was very expensive, and so was considered a pilot project.

Owachomo Natural Bridge in winter, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Owachomo Bridge from the overlook, Natural Bridges.

Thus when a big winter storm hits Natural Bridges, the power does not go out. We enjoy it.

Sipapu Natural Bridge and White Canyon, Natural Bridges National Monument, winter.

White Canyon from the Sipapu Bridge viewpoint.

Afterward, the sunny skies show the new snow coating on the canyons and buttes in all their glory. The National Park Service crew keeps the roads and walkways to the overlooks cleared for the visitors to enjoy.

Kachina Natural Bridge in winter, from the overlook, Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

Kachina Bridge from the overlook, Natural Bridges.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2014 Stephen J. Krieg

Faith, Trust, Patience…and A Promise Amid the Ancients

 

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Kachina Natural Bridge on a late January afternoon.

It was a fairly drab day, photographically, in one of the least drab locations on Earth: Natural Bridges National Monument. Mostly overcast skies in the dead of winter. But open vistas, clean, crisp air–what more could one want?

Though spring was still a long way off, it was coming. It always does (how’s that for a bold prediction?). At this time of year the days are getting longer by two minutes per day. An hour a month!

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Muddy boot tracks across the ice.

Another winter “rove” hike down to Kachina Natural Bridge, in January. Why? Because I’m a park volunteer, and so I get to do such things in the line of duty. To check trail conditions, talk to visitors, answer questions, etc. If anybody’s about, that is. Which, at this time of year, there aren’t many. Sometimes not even any. Like that day.

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Bighorn sheep petroglyph and ancient hands pictographs on southeast buttress of Kachina Natural Bridge.

It was in between the big snows. The gorgeous plastering of the canyon walls and trees just after a snow storm was almost gone, and I was hopeful for the next one soon. Although I love spring as much as anybody, until it gets here I’d rather have snow than drab brown and gray. Even in Canyon Country, where the sandstone buttes and cliffs provide an endless source of wonder. They look even more awesome after a snow storm.

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Kachina Bridge ruin site, White Canyon.

The west buttress of Kachina Bridge forms a massive overhanging cliff, a sandy alcove free of snow on a high bank well above the creek bottom. And that alcove must have been a very sacred place to the ancient ones. They were the ancestral puebloans (sometimes called Anasazi) that migrated on to form today’s pueblo communities (Hopi, Zuni, the Rio Grande pueblos) between 700 and 800 years ago.

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Mud flow patterns, and ancient handprints, on the canyon wall above one of the little adobe ruins at Kachina Bridge.

Once again I pondered the small adobe structures. A couple of the conical ones were probably small granaries–grain storage bins for maize (corn), that precious commodity. But the circular, open flat topped one at the bottom of the cliff face mud flows? I think it had a different purpose, quite possibly ceremonial. Especially with the ghost like figures painted on the inside back wall.

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Ghostly pictographs inside the main adobe ruin at Kachina Bridge.

What’s also unique about this site is the presence of butterfly pictographs (paintings). There are several here. It must be some kind of clan or society symbol. They didn’t doodle on these rock faces–each drawing painted, or pecked into the stone (a petroglyph) took time and intent. It’s clear that they revered these places as special, even powerful.

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Butterfly pictograph, Kachina Bridge Ruin site.

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Connected spirals petroglyph, Kachina Bridge ruin area.

I checked the old wooden box nearby holding the visitor register. About a week earlier was an amazing entry by a couple from Germany. “What a stunning place we have found. Magical and spiritual at the same time. In Boulder [Colorado, or Utah?] we bought a couple rings from the Navajo tribe to give each other the promise to spend our lives together. We could have not found a better place to do this, being by ourselves, witnessed by the spirits of the ancestors.”

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“The promise to spend our lives together” entry in the register, Kachina Bridge ruin.

I closed the register box and walked back down from the ruins alcove underneath the bridge again. There in the sand by the little stream trickling by between the frozen pools someone had written: “Faith–Trust–Patience”. The same couple?

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“Faith, Trust, Patience” in the sand beneath Kachina Bridge.

Finally, it was time to head back up to the trailhead. Only 400 vertical feet to go, once again. The lungs and legs were willing, though I can’t say they were excited. Or was that just my mind? Once again I did it, looking forward to doing it many times more before I leave this place.

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Snow packed stone steps leading out of White and Armstrong Canyons up to the rim.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

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The author…

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

Armstrong Canyon Ice

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Frozen pool in lower Armstrong Canyon in January, at Natural Bridges.

I was hiking back down into White Canyon to revisit Kachina Natural Bridge in January. But first, a side trip: Up the lower reach of Armstrong Canyon, which joins White Canyon at the Bridge.

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Ice falls at the nickpoint pour-off, lower Armstrong Canyon.

One can only walk a short ways up Armstrong there before their progress upstream is halted by a pour-off, an overhang that has a waterfall when the stream is flowing.

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Ice falls and reflection, Armstrong Canyon.

This stretch of frozen stream bottom is an easy to get to, but still secluded, spot in the canyon. Usually you have it all to yourself.

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Snowy stream banks, lower Armstrong Canyon.

The frozen pools along the way were a treasure trove of frozen patterns: ice crystals, under-ice air pockets, leaves frozen in the ice, partially melted ice over stones.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg

Moss Back Butte, from Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah, in winter.

Back To Winter Utah Blue Skies

Moss Back Butte, from Natural Bridges Visitor Center parking lot.

Moss Back Butte, from Natural Bridges Visitor Center parking lot. (Click on image for larger version).

The things I like about snowstorms are: 1) the approach and anticipation, 2) watching it occur, and 3) the aftermath. So, I guess I like everything about them.

Natural Bridges National Monument Visitor Center.

Natural Bridges National Monument Visitor Center.

Mind you, I live in a place where the power can’t go out, because we have a solar array with battery storage, plus diesel generator backup to that as well. And we walk to work, just a short distance. We are off the grid and self sufficient. We stay stocked up on food and are nourished even further with some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.

The Bears Ears Buttes in snow, from the Natural Bridges parking lot.

The Bears Ears Buttes in snow, from the Natural Bridges parking lot.

Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah is way out there in the middle of nowhere. Even today visitors stop in amazed (sometimes uncomfortable) with how far things are around here. It can be a haven along the long lonely but spectacular road that is Utah Highway 95 between Blanding and Hanksville.

Juniper tree snag in the snow and sun and blue sky.

Juniper tree snag in the snow and sun and blue sky.

It’s the dead of winter here. Few visitors arrive. But those that do are amazed. I am still amazed, too, and it’s my second winter here.

Roundleaf Buffaloberry bush on a winter morning.

Roundleaf Buffaloberry bush on a winter morning.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, southeast Utah.

© 2016 Stephen J. Krieg