Sunday, April 17, 2016

Horseshoe Bend Overlook of the Colorado River

The couple we were paired with to go thru Lower Antelope Canyon told us that if we haven't seen the Horseshoe Bend Overlook of the Colorado River, it was just a few miles south... and well worth the time.

And so here we are.  And we were not disappointed. You have to feel it to appreciate the grandeur of it all.

Approaching the river the sun was shining, but the clouds were rolling in. A storm was coming.

People were busy taking photos of each other in front of this magnificent viewpoint.

This is apparently the largest deposit of red sandstone in the United States. It is about 2,000 feet deep and extends from Arizona to Wyoming.

Shirley surprised me how brave she was in wanting to get the "best" possible shot of this view.

Loved this shot of a young family... little girl's eyes squeezed tightly closed.

Truly spectacular!

Zooming in on the river closest us we could see campers enjoying the day.

What a perfect camping site.

I asked Shirley to give me her best pose... what a smile!

We spent about half an hour enjoying the view and the people... and the clouds we clearly moving quickly towards us.

As were were walking out, there were still people walking in to take a look. Could they get back before the rain storm hit?

It was moving our way pretty quickly.

After getting into our truck and heading out we went thru a mini blizzard. Two cars hit the rhubarb just before we got there. One rolled over and was badly smashed... the other car in a separate event lost control and hit the ditch with minor damage. These guys are not used to driving in snow.

"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

Our Incredible Antelope Canyon Adventure

At long last we made it to Antelope Canyon.

To be able to see and shoot photos of these amazing free-formed natural sculptures sent my nature appreciation rate soaring and I could hardly contain the joy! It may have been raining outside during our tour, but in the canyon very few raindrops came thru the narrow slot.

On the edge of Antelope Canyon is this power generation plant... you can see it in the distance as you come over the hill east of town. We almost decided not to come here since the sky was so dark and threatening rain. It did in fact rain while we were walking thru the canyon... but very little rain gets to the bottom thru the narrow slot on top.

The Navajo Indian Band controls access to the canyon... and the tour is quite close to Page, Arizona. It seemed like only ten minutes or so from our hotel in town.

No one can enter the canyon without being accompanied by a guide. 

There are actually two venues... the Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular, due to the shafting sunlight beams.  and the Lower Antelope Canyon is narrower, steeper and less crowded than its upper cousin. We did the Lower Canyon and lucked out, as it was not at all crowded... and we really had a great tour guide. This canyon is considerably longer.

The Upper Antelope Canyon, with its laser-like beams of sunlight that seem shot from heaven, draws the crowds—hundreds and hundreds of tourists and photographers each day, jammed tightly into this twisting, narrow 1/8 mile corridor. On another day when the sky is blue and the sun is shining we may take a photo tour of this canyon too... it is two hours instead of one hour and costs more than twice as much, but you get a chance to do some good quality work using a tripod.

It was only a short walk with our guide to where we entered the Lower Antelope Canyon.

The only way into the canyon was to climb down several flights of stairs.

We went down 40 to 50 feet... but not all at one time.

I took this shot from the stairs.

The flights of stairs were not all at one place... so it made a comfortable descent.

On cloudy days it is dark in the canyon... only a little light comes thru the narrow slot above.

Quite amazingly the canyon has a very narrow top opening...

...with a little wider base. This is one of the wider places.

Jokingly our guide told us that the first 100 pictures we take are free... after that there is a charge of a dollar a photo. (Ha, ha.)  I took over 220 with my Nikon and edited them down to 166... of which 38 made it the blog. I only took 12 with my iPhone camera and kept 4.

I am used to working with sandstone to make rock walls, but the beauty of this natural sandstone sculpture is truly amazing... mind blowing!

Looking up!

This shows the evolution over time. First they put toe holes into the rock and had a rope so people could climb up to the next level. But now they have well constructed iron steps with handrails. Shirley said, "Much better!"

You can see how silt and debris have washed down the rock face.

Several times a year this thirty-mile long canyon floods... and it's not uncommon to see water 10 to 15 feet deep flowing thru this tourist attraction. When this happens the venue is closed and it takes several days after the flood to restore it for visitors again.

Because it was so dark in the canyon the day we hiked through, it often took a longer exposure to capture the image... hence more blurry. 

Can you see the lady, wind in her hair, on the bow of the ship?

Gene told us about how this canyon was like a sanctuary to his people... it was a sacred place.

As we were nearing the end of the tour, our guide, Gene, played a song for us on his recorder (flute). The acoustics were amazing in the canyon... and his song was truly beautiful.

Gene pointed out the indian chief head.

Having people with the Indian chief above them helps to understand the scale of this rock sculpture.

The beauty and design is so wonderful... and it just keeps going on and on!

Gene said after a flood washes thru the canyon, they have to pour fresh sand back in from above to make a level path to walk on again. The flood washes out most of the sand every time.

Gene with his recorder in his backpack is climbing up the exit stairs.

As I was climbing the stairs out I saw this tumbleweed that had blown into the canyon and lodged in the rock... or did one of the Navajos set it there?

This photo of Shirley coming out at the end of the tour shows how narrow the top of the canyon actually is... like a narrow crevice often seen in glaciers. And yet below the surface are the most magnificent natural rock sculptures and designs.

Our guide took our picture after the tour with my iPhone. It was overcast all the time we were on the tour... and it even sprinkled a little... yet we got some amazing photos.

How does that little green plant survive and find nourishment in that solid sandstone rock?

Someone asked the guide how long it took to make these rock formations. He said likely three to five million years.
"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." -Lao Tzu