The Subway–Zion N.P.

I’ve been wanting to hike to the Subway in Zion’s since I found out about it back in 06 while canyoneering down there with a friend.  We weren’t able to get permits for the Subway but we did do two other amazing slot canyons, Pine Creek and Keyhole.

My Mom and I lucked out and were able to get two walk up permits for the Subway!!.  We headed out to the Left Fork Trailhead in the morning after picking up some caffeine and pop tarts.  Packed up our stuff and headed off on the 6 mile round trip hike.

Now I’m not sure if you know what the subway is, but it’s probably one of the most photographed places in Zion N.P.  I have seen the pics more than I can remember and they always look soo damn cool.  So I was pretty damn excited for this trip.


We had decided to do the Bottom up hike since for one we don’t have any of the gear for the upper technical sections of the canyon.  Plus Mom isn’t too keen on heights so I was not sure about the rappels that it requires.  So we left the trailhead and headed down to the creek bed.  You follow the creek bed for about 2.6 miles up to the Subway itself.  It was a gorgeous hike up the creek bed but takes some time since you have to do a considerable amount of boulder hopping, crossing the creek, and hiking up the hillside around boulders too big to climb.  Along the way we encountered hundreds of little tiny frogs that would scatter every which way from the trail as you almost stepped on them (I’m sure we had to kill at least one or two of them even though we tried very hard not to)



After stopping to take quite a few pictures of beautiful waterfalls along the way, and playing leapfrog with a couple going up there to photograph as well we reached the Subway.  The couple we were playing leapfrog with had 8×10 camera gear, a 35mm film camera, a digital camera, and a big heavy tripod that made me thankful for my Micro 4/3 camera but at the same time made me envious of the quality of photos they would get compared to mine.


On First Impression of the Subway I thought …. This is all?  For some reason I was expecting it to be a long tunnel.  But Most the pictures you see of the subway is all of the subway.  It’s probably under a hundred feet long.  It’s still pretty damn cool and quite the sight to see … but even cooler is the pools in there.  I swam up the slot canyon as far as I could (To the waterfall) which wasn’t too far back.


We had to fight over space to photograph (not really any fighting …. more just waiting your turn)  But I got the pictures I want.  I learned a few things from this trip and hopefully I’ll make it back and not only get the photographs I want, but next time I want to do the top down so I can explore the slot canyons leading up to the subway.


Backpacking the West Rim Trail in Zion N.P

I had 8 days of Vacation time built up so I decided I should start taking some of it before I lose it at the end of the year (New GEO company policy).  I took off three days not knowing where I was going to go.  I knew I would figure something out.  It turns out my mom was in the same boat and had a big stretch  coming up so we decided to go somewhere together.

At first I was planning on heading up to Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons since I haven’t spent much time up there and haven’t done any real hiking around.  But after looking at the weather and how cold it was going to get we looked south.  High of 87 and low of 50 in Zion NP  … GREAT!! So very early Friday morning we headed south.

We got to Zion around Noon after stopping to visit with Grandma in Salem.  It was HOT as Hell there!! (Turned out to be 97 that day).  Ouch!  We got a campsite and went and got our permit to do the West Rim hike and got a campsite up on the rim.  We asked about permits for the subway but of course there weren’t any available.  After that we were going to go for a hike but it was too damn hot out and I was feeling sick from the heat .. so what did we do … went and got some food and beer Smile

Later that evening once there was some shade and it started to cool down we did go hike up to the upper emerald pools.  I was thinking I hadn’t been there before .. but alas I had.

Early Saturday morning we headed up to the Lava Point trailhead (We took a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company)  We started on the trail around 8 AM.  Well going downhill most the way and only having to hike 7 or so miles .. it didn’t take us long to get to camp.  That was even taking our time to take pictures.  I think we arrived camp around noon that day.  Only 7 or 8 hours to kill till bed time (when the sun goes down).  What to do to entertain ourselves?  Wait … I broke my kindle last trip so didn’t bring it, forgot to bring a book or magazine, and those cards I had in my pack … they were thrown out since I thought Mom would have brought some (She didn’t).  I guess all there is to do is take a 3 hour nap.

I woke up from my long nap drenched in sweat.  Yuk.  We decided to hike around the rim and see if we could find the springs and fill up on water.  While we didn’t get any water we did get to see some pretty damn amazing views.


Up along the rim of Zion Canyon you get a whole new perspective on the park.  The land looks surreal and alien like.  The tall sloping sandstone cliffs, domes, and cones.  Then there are the plateaus.  From the ground it looks like there are just the sandstone cliffs with nothing on top of them.  But from the top you can see they have a forest of their own.  It makes you want to get on top of them and explore them.  Also, it makes you wonder if there are any wildlife on top.  If there are any squirrels up there.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out early.  The trail takes you down to Boy Scout lookout (the lookout on the way up Angels Landing) then down to the Grotto’s trailhead.  We made it down just after noon on Sunday and headed straight for the back country office.  We wanted a second chance of getting permits to the Subway .. low and behold they actually had some left.  Looks like we were going to stay in Zion for another night …

Camping @ Maroon Bells

Last night I drove from Boulder up to aspen after a mostly full day of work.  I ended up going the back route that takes you up to Leadville and on some smaller back roads and drops you down into Aspen.  I beelined straight for the Maroon Bells campground.  I ended up getting the last campsite available.  Thank Goodness …. I didn’t want to spend all night searching for a place to sleep.

I woke up at 4 AM to start hiking around and finding a suitable place to take some sunrise pictures of the Maroon Bells.  I settled on the north edge of Crater Lake.  I didn’t pay enough attention and don’t quite like the distracting foreground on my shots.  I need to wake up and look at my screen a little more when setting up shots.  Oh well .. ya live and learn.

Here is my bad attempt at HDR.  Maybe when I get home I’ll give it more time.  I don’t like the unrealistic look to it.


After hanging out there for a while I made my way back down to Maroon lake and wandered around there taking a few pictures.

Now I’m sitting at the Ink Coffee shop in Aspen letting my camera batteries recharge before I head into the wilderness tomorrow.


Trip to Florida to watch Atlantis’s last departure

This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to go to Florida with my Dad and watch the last NASA Shuttle launch.  What an amazing trip it was.

We Left Denver Thursday afternoon and made it to Titusville around 10 or so.  We went out and found a place to where we could see the shuttle at night time to try and get a decent picture of it before it launched.  But, it turned out to be too hard to get a good picture at night.  So, we headed back to our motel room to catch a whopping 2 hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 2 AM to head to the Kennedy Space Center.

We arrived at the KSCVC around 3 am and started the processes of waiting in line after line after line.  We finally boarded our bus at 7:30 AM and then proceeded to head out to the Causeway where my dad had gotten tickets to through the lottery system.  The causeway is the closest you can get as a civilian to watching the shuttle launch.  We sure lucked out.

After waiting in the humid heat for 4 hours while setting up the cameras, chatting about cameras, listening to the latest news of whether it was going to launch or not (a 30% chance) we finally got the word that the launch was a GO.  We all waited anxiously in anticipation for the countdown.  We made it to T-2 minutes .. and then were delayed.  But only for a few minutes…. Then they started the clock again at T-5 minutes and counting…  3…  And you could see the engines light up and the smoke billowing out…  2… 1… and we had liftoff.  For a moment all you could see was the smoke .. and then you saw the nose of the shuttle peaking out and moving up quickly … then it all happened so fast yet was sort of slow motion… watching the shuttle arc up into the clouds.  Then eventually the booming sound of the shuttle hit us (about 30 seconds later).

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And a few from the Pro Photographer Dad ….

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After the shuttle launch we made our way back to the Hotel for some very much needed rest.  That pretty much took up the rest of Friday.


Saturday we headed out to the northern part of Merritt Island to the wildlife refuge to see what birds and other critters we could see.  At the visitor center we went on a short walk and ran into some interesting spiders, dung beetles (at least beetles that liked dung), turtles, and a small croc.   After that we headed out on the Peacock Pocket Rd loop (one that we would repeat two more times) to check out the birds.



I would like to come back to Merritt island sometime (Maybe in the spring when it’s cooler) and take a kayaking trip around the canals and lagoons.  It was a very pretty area and very enjoyable except all the mosquitos that for some reason really love my blood (I’m still itching all over from the trip).

The last part of our major adventure was sitting on the tarmac for over an hour in Orlando, running through Atlanta’s airport from the end of one terminal to the end of another, and then not getting back home till 2 AM.  Just in time for a few hours sleep before I had to be to work Monday morning.

Thanks Dad for the GREAT time !!!!

Snow Sculptures and Snowshoeing

This past weekend My dad and step mom came up to Breckenridge Friday night to take a look at the snow sculpture contest they were having here.  We went out Friday afternoon and looked at the statues.  The people were still working on them but some of them were looking pretty cool.  The next day we came back around 10:30 or so.  And boy, were things different.  It’s amazing how much they transformed in just a day or so.  Some of the sculptures I didn’t really look twice at turned out to be quite amazing.

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After they left to head back to Rifle I took Zip and Makers up for a snowshoe hike in Mayflower Gulch.  It is quite the beautiful hike and has some reminisces of a mine at the base of the mountain.  If you look at the full size pic of the mountains you can barely see two tents in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.  That will give you some scale on the photo.  Crazy people sleeping out there in the middle of the winter…. Makes me want to go make a winter trip myself 😉


Caving adventures with Grandma

I know I have taken a hiatus from posting about my adventures.  But after this last time I decided I should get back to posting them.  This starts off by my latest adventure that involved my grandma.  She came down to Arizona to visit her brother and sister and suggested we take the weekend and drive over to Carlsbad Caverns.  It was a bit more of a drive than I expected but it was well worth it.

Here are some of the pictures I took from inside the cave.  I’ll also post some links.

Carlsbad Caverns

We also signed up for a guided tour and I would definitely recommend this (Plus there are cute rangers that go with you)

Kings Palace

View Carlsbad Caverns

Trip to the Beach

After a stressful, god awful monday, I decided to go out to the Beach by Stansbury Island and join them on their camping excursions.  It was an awsome sunset and after the sun set we enjoyed fireworks then stayed up till around 3 AM drinking a little.  I was a great time up there and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Here are some of the pics I took up there.

Bikers and Rollerbladers

I went out to the parks for for a few hours sunday to kill some time and get used to my camera some more.  I went to Liberty park and took a few pictures of the Drum Circle and some of the kids playing in the water.  After that I made my way over to fairmont to take some pictures of the skaters.  I had a good time watching them and getting a little used to my Camera and lenses.  I have found that I don’t really like the cheaper lenses that I bought when I first got my camera.  My large telephoto takes forever to focus on subjects.  I ended up using my telephoto lense to take most the pictures even though I did not get up as close as I would have liked to.  anyways I will post a few of the pictures I took from it.