Good Vacation Photos

Get Better Vacation Pictures

Getting Better National Monument Vacation Pictures

breakthehorizon

1. Break the horizon.  A body, a face, a hoo doo.  Break the line between land and sky to add drama and depth.  All too often your facebook page is filled with pages of blue sky, a dark line and the blurred and hidden shape of a human, smiling ever so faintly in the vast muddied landscape.

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2. The little things.  Each small bit of your vacation will be a reminder of that perfect sunrise, that lovely morning.  While the vistas are stunning the smaller bits are incredible as well.
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3. Don’t always face the camera. Don’t always smile.  The quiet times are just as important. 
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4. Sunrise and Sunset are the best times of day for light. And of course, these are the best times to be in the desert in August, so get up early, skip that 8 o’clock dinner and get out in the middle of nowhere.  stare at the camera
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Who doesn’t want a million likes on their facebook vacation photo album? I mean seriously, why even go on vacation if your photos don’t make Stacy Miller from high school completely jealous.  Well, if you are going to post the same sun burnt smiling faces squinting into the sun with some vague landscape behind them, Stacy Miller is just going to click through and feel smug. Just kidding, forget about facebook, just get out there, take unusual shots and enjoy one of the beauty.

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Tenkara: An Ancient Approach to Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing

Courtesy Photo/Dave Sartwell Dave Sartwell and Nate Waggoner fly fish with a tenkara rod.

Posted: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 10:00 pm

Nate slowly approached the edge of Pine Creek and peered through the branches of a big spruce tree at the downstream end of a deep pool. I slid up behind him and stared at the dark water below. In the clear mountain stream we could see three 10 inch brown trout setting in the quiet water watching as the stoneflies washed by them. Every  minute or so one of them would twitch his tail, move into the glide and gulp down a tasty treat.

“Here is a great place to start,” whispered Nate. “Remember that the art of tenkara is stealth and presentation. The fly needs to fall softly to the surface and float through the feeding zone as naturally as possible. You do not have a reel and you have a 16 foot line, so you have to find that spot where you can cast to the fish without them seeing you.”

We studied the pool and, more importantly, the stream bank. Where could I stand so that I could cast and not be seen and at an angle that the fly would land on the surface of the pool in a natural way? Backing away from the water, I curled downstream, got in the cold water, lowered my profile and started to wade slowly up to the pool.

The stream was only about eight feet wide, stone lined and was perhaps a foot deep where I was walking. The pool in front of me was about fifteen feet long and two feet deep on the left side, getting more shallow on the right. Two large overhanging trees leaned out over the water, providing shade and a root system that held the bank together. It was in this deeper part that the three fish had found a home.

I had the tiny, 11 foot tenkara rod, about twelve feet of braided flyline and four feet of 6x leader attached to the end.  The trick was to judge my distance very carefully and to adjust the position of my body so that when I cast, my fly would land in the right place.

Checking behind me to make sure I had room for my backcast, I flicked the line gently to the rear and then twisted my wrist forward. Because the rod is so long and so flexible, it is easy to overpower it. Therefore, the forward wrist action has to be slow and gentle, letting the line flow through the air in a soft arc. As I eased the line forward I kept the tip relatively high. The line came to the end of it’s forward movement. The Adams fly we were using came to a slow stop and then dropped gently to the surface.

The fly sat high on the water and drifted into the glide. We watched as the nearest brown flicked his tail and rose into the feeding zone. The fly gently rode the current as I raised the tip of the long rod to keep the line off the surface. The spotted trout opened his mouth and sucked in the artificial. I set the hook and the end of the slender rod vibrated as the small fish darted across the pool.

I led the fish downstream into the shallow water. Nate wet his hands, leaned into the pool, and gently lifted the little fighter from the creek. With practiced ease he twisted out the barbless hook and set the tiny fish free.

Tenkara the Japanese art of fly-fishing

Tenkara the Japanese art of fly-fishing

Tenkara is the ancient method of fly fishing that has really caught on in the United States. The collapsible tenkara rod can be of various lengths from about 9 feet to as long as almost fifteen feet. When collapsed, it is only about two feet long. It has a very short piece of line (called a lillian) with a knot in it attached to the very end. To that line you attached a ten foot or more braided line. And, to that you attach a leader as with a regular fly line. Then you tie on your fly.

That is all. There is no reel with extra line. No guides. It is like cane pole fishing with the lightest wand you have ever held. The tip is tiny and the action is extremely soft. A premium is placed on smoothness and softness. And, it requires an accuracy of presentation that will challenge the best of fly fisherman. This is not for long casting and power fishing. It is ideal for small creeks and rivers where short casts of twenty five feet or less are best. But, when you really get into it, you realize that most casts should only be of the that length. And, the cost for the outfit can be as low as $200.

Once the fly lands on the water, you are able to guide the flow of the fly down the pool because of the length of the rod. You keep the tip high with your casting arm and let the line dance above the water with only the fly touching the surface, or at best, a little fine leader leading the way. When it reaches the end of the glide, a simple little twist of the wrist allows a tight roll cast that will drive the fly back to the head of the pool.

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Now, I make this sound easy, but it is not. It takes practice and patience. However, once you get the idea, you will feel closer to the natural action of fly fishing in it’s original form.

I need to thank Nate Waggoner of Escalante Outfitters in Escalante, Utah (www.escalanteoutfitters.com) for introducing me to this wonderful way of fishing. He took Mary Gayle and me up onto the Aquarius Plateau where we fished tiny creeks and ponds of three acres or less that were full of cutthroat, browns and stocked rainbow. For those of us that love to fish with 2-wts. and tiny flies for small trout will really enjoy this very secluded and lightly worked area. However, I must tell you that we did take a two hour hike into one small, spring-fed pothole from which we did catch two brookies in the 20-inch range!

In Massachusetts, give Ken Elmer a call at 978-790-4320. For $90 he will supply the tenkara equipment and a 3-hour lesson or for $150 he will take you on the river all day.

For more information on tenkara fishing, go to tenkarausa.com.

Peek a boo and Spooky

Peek a Boo and Spooky Canyons

Here is a terrific guide to two of the regions popular slot canyons.

Guide

Spooky Canyon

Down Hole in the Rock Road many side canyons offer a beautiful adventure.

From Canyoneering 3 – Steve Allen, “the two elegant slots presented in this hike – Peek a boo and Spooky gulches – are of such high quality that they do live up to their enigmatic appellations.  There have  been some speculation about where their names came from. Shortly before his death in 1993, Escalante historian and schoolteacher Edson Alvey told em that they were suggested while he was exploring the two slot canyons with as group if schoolchildren on Halloween day in 1935.”

Allen recommends the topos maps Egypt & Big Hollow Wash.

Here a few different views

Peekaboo and Spooky

 

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Sun Safety & Hydration!

Summer is here! And the visitor center has asked us to remind everyone that even Superman drinks water in the desert in July.  

The top 4 tips for surviving and thriving in arid conditions

  1. Take enough water and drink it!
  2. Wear a hat, something nice and ventilated.
  3. Use the early mornings and evenings for outdoor adventuring, avoid being out in the hottest part of the day.
  4. Shade! Use it, find it, stay in it.  

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How much should be drinking? Here is a formula to help you figure it out.  A 150 pound person in arid hot conditions, who hikes for 20 minutes or changes a tire, needs about 90 ounces of water a day.

This is the desert and it is dry. Being here will make you shrivel up. On the mild side; your lips will chap, you will feel tired, you will age about 5 years as your skin pulls in like an old apple and you will find that your hangover is a bit more appalling than usual. On the harsher side, you could die and people do every year. (here is a graph)

The best way to avoid these various troubles is through the proper and consistent drinking of water.

As you plan your activities in the desert make sure you start the day hydrated. Avoid alcohol and coffee if you can and when you fail at that compensate with more water. You don’t want to start a hike already in a water deficit.

People have been known to suffer from mild to moderate dehydration with a bottle of water in their hand. The more advanced symptoms include vertigo, stumbling and poor choices, while that is all fun in college, on the edge of a slot canyon the repercussions can be more pronounced than just a blurry regret.

Even with mild dehydration, Rangers at the hot national parks know that heart attacks, fainting, and disorientation happen.  But why is dehydration such a problem?

Drink Water

Your blood thickens.   This is one of the causes of the headache – a symptom that should not be ignored.   Don’t just take a pill and ignore the underlying cause, if you’re in a hot climate.  Headache means you have waited way too long to drink your water.  Dry eyes, nose bleeds, irritation to throat tissue and lungs, muscle cramps – including in the intestines – are all symptoms.  Once you are even mildly dehydrated. your stomach and intestines are going to react differently to the inflow of the water you eventually decide to drink – you will need a couple of hours, or longer, to get over it.  If you just ignore it, as many people do, you will feel lousy the next day.  

The headache is likely caused by the dilation of blood vessels throughout your body  – which some people experience as a kind of rush – but which, in your brain, can eventually cause migraine-like ssymptoms.  Or migraines.

 

How to rehydrate if you get a little dehydrated:

If you notice you’re not peeing regularly (every two hours) or your pee is dark, you’re pretty dehydrated already. 

Drink water, not caffeinated beverages or sodas.  Some soda is fine – it has salt, you need salt.  But drink water.

Drink 4-6 ounces at a time and drink frequently – like every 15-20 minutes. 

Continue until you’re back to peeing regularly – and your urine is relatively clear.

Eat a snack containing salt and calcium at a minimum; potassium, magnesium and some sort of protein aren’t a bad idea either…a little at a time. 

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Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Photo by Trevor Anderson

Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument is one of the most known features of the Monument.

A winding, sandy hike of about 6 miles which terminates in an oasis-like cove with a soaring waterfall.  The hike is family friendly and non-technical.   And while the afternoon temperatures in summer will soar beyond comfort the morning is a wonderful time to explore this haven.  Lower Calf Creek has been providing shelter and water to people for hundreds of years and has many archaeological and geologic features to learn about and discover.

The most interesting feature, (imho) is the pictograph of the 3 figures.   There are done in the typical Fremont style, although the coloring is unusual. Their meaning is unknown.

3figures

If you can pick up a paper trail guide at the trail head, it will give you a great overview of the exciting secrets of this canyon.  The brown numbered markers denote an area of interest.  The below is a very detailed guide that you can save to your phone. (There is no service in the canyon so download it in town.)

Detailed Trail Guide

 

 

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The Grahams take a stroll with Nate

People always ask if the 3 hour tour is too hard for them.  The answer is always, “Not at all.”  Nate’s ability to tailor the tour to each individuals interest and skill level makes sure that you have an informative and enjoyable tour of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and surrounding areas.  Like the Grahams from Maryland.  20150629_123450“Nathan gave us a fabulous tour of this part of the Colorado Plateau, and told us everything we wanted to know about the paleontology, geology, botany, history, as well as some great Wild West stories.  W are Easterners and are overwhelmed. We recommend Nathan for any and all tours.”

Escalante Tours can range into the Dixie National Forest, the Grand  Staircase National Monument, the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness Area, and the Boulder Mountain.

 

Hole in the Rock Trail

Hole in the Rock Trail

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A guide to Southern Utah’s Hole-in-the-Rock Trail, by Stewart Aitchison

Now available at Escalante Outfitters

In 1879, 230 settlers in southwestern Utah heeded the call from the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) to pull up stakes and move the to distant San Juan River country of Southeastern Utah.  Their six-month long, journey became one the most extraordinary wagon trips ever undertaken in North America, their trail one of peril, difficult, and spectacular vistas.  Beginning in Cedar City, Utah, this trail crosses today’s Dixie national Forest, skirts Bryce Canyon National Park, bisects the Grand Staircase-National Monument. crosses the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and comes close to Natural Bridges National Monument on its way to Bluff, Utah.  In addition to the historical value of the story of these pioneers, this guide includes road logs, maps and hiking trails along the historic trail.  It also points out fascinating natural history along the way, making  A guide to Southern Utah’s Hole-in-the-Rock Trail a significant reference for a variety of readers.

lymanplattePlatte D. Alton Lyman

Although originally appointed as the San Juan Mission Assistant  Leader, Platte D. Lyman became the de facto Field Captain after leader Silas S. Smith returned to Salt Lake City and was unable to rejoin the mission until the spring of 1880.  Lyman still has descendants on both ends of the Hole in the Rock Trail. Most of whom make a pilgrimage at least once in their lives down the Hole in Rock Road outside of Escalante Utah to the start of this epic and historic trek.

This is a short, but excellent guide to Southern Utah’s Hole in the Rock Trail. The author has broken the trail up into a series of segments and for each segment tells the history of that part of the trail, then gives detailed directions on how to see, hike, or drive that section of the trail. It seems that most books focus on the trail from Escalante to Hole in the Rock and then ignore the rest of the trail. Here, the author does a great job of detailing the further challenges that the pioneers faced beyond Hole in the Rock.
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Escalante River Watershed Partnership

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In response to the changes and challenges unfolding in the watershed, the Escalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP), a coalition of private and public agencies, groups, and individuals
Escalante River

Mission 

To restore and maintain the natural ecological conditions of the Escalante River and its watershed and involve local communities in promoting and implementing sustainable land and water use practices. 

Background

In June 2009 a partnership formed to coordinate riparian restoration efforts in southern Utah’s Escalante River Watershed. The partnership, known as Escalante River Watershed Partnership (ERWP), is composed of agencies, local governments, organizations, businesses, non-profits, and individuals who live and work near or on the Escalante River. The ERWP operates under the principles set forth in the 2011 Partnership Agreement. 

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Science and Research

The Escalante River Watershed Partnership recognizes the important role of science as a guide to actions aimed at accomplishing its mission.  Toward this purpose, the Partnership has formed a permanent Science Committee.  Roles of the Science Committee include:

  • Assessing the science needs and opportunities of ERWP programs.
  • Identifying important data gaps and finding ways to fill them.
  • Advising other ERWP committees on science issues.
  • Helping assure the quality and effectiveness of ERWP projects.

Several specific science or research topics within the scope of the Science Committee, referenced in the current version of the Action Plan Framework, include:

  • Gaining a more comprehensive understanding of water resources, both ground water and surface water, especially in the face of anticipated greater future droughts.
  • Inventorying and assessing characteristics of springs and seeps (i.e. Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems).
  • Enhancing habitat connectivity for native coldwater fishes.
  • Determining and interpreting geomorphic and climatic influences that affect the invasion and spread of non-native Russian olive trees.
  • Understanding causes of decline in coverage or health of forests in the headwaters of the watershed.

A longer-range science/research goal is to hold an Escalante Science Symposium.  This would be a gathering of  researchers, land managers, and representatives of other pertinent organizations to assess critical science needs, research opportunities, strategies, and questions that would guide the development of the Escalante watershed as a “living laboratory” for basic and applied science.

Such a Symposium would further refine watershed research programs, allowing for a more coherent understanding of landscape dynamics, cyclical changes, and environmental responses to (current and future) ecological processes and disturbances within the Escalante watershed.

Map of the Watershed

Native Fish

The Escalante River is home to six native fish species. Flannelmouth sucker and roundtail chub are primarily restricted to the mainstem Escalante River, below Mamie Creek and Harris Wash, respectively. Bluehead sucker and speckled dace can be found farther upstream and in the lower ends of some tributaries.

Colorado River cutthroat trout and mottled sculpin are coldwater species with more restricted distributions in the watershed. After extensive restoration work, Colorado River cutthroat trout now occupy over 26 miles of stream in four of the main tributary drainages. Mottled sculpin are restricted to the Boulder Creek drainage.

Colorado River cutthroat trout, bluehead sucker, flannelmouth sucker and roundtail chub are managed under Range-wide Conservation Agreements and Strategies (CAS). CAS’s enable management agencies and other partners to work together to conserve these species and their habitat.

 

Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus)

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The most colorful of the cutthroat trout, Colorado River cutthroat trout (CRCT) have light to deep red pigmentation along the jaw and belly and black spots along their rear and tail. In the Escalante River system CRCT generally grow from 8” to 14” in length in streams, but can reach over 20” in lakes. They need habitats with cool, well-oxygenated water. CRCT occupied habitat has grown to more than 14% of its historic range because of conservation actions.

 

Flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis)

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A large-bodied sucker, flannelmouth can grow to 30”. These fish are usually purple-hued on the back, while their bellies can be cream to yellow. Flannelmouth prefer deeper, slower water, with cover such as roots and overhanging branches, and can be observed in spawning congregations numbering more than 100 fish. Recent information indicates flannelmouth sucker occupy about 45% of their historic range.

 

Speckled Dace (Rhinicthys osculus)

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Speckled dace are a minnow common throughout the western United States and are distributed widely throughout the Colorado River system. They can be found in small, high-elevation tributary streams and large, low-elevation, turbid rivers, as well as isolated spring systems. Speckled dace can grow from 4” to 6”. They are generally a mottled brown or golden in color with males developing orange to red coloration around the fins and mouth during breeding.

 

Roundtail chub (Gila robusta)

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A large member of the minnow family, roundtail chub can grow up to 17” in length and are generally light green to silver in color, but often develop an orange hue around the fins while spawning. They have large eyes and fins and are a muscular fish. Roundtail chub tend to prefer slower, deeper water. Studies in the 2000’s indicated that roundtail chub occupied 18% to 45% of their historic range.

 

Bluehead sucker (Catostomus discobulus)

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Bluehead suckers are a medium-sized sucker that can grow to 18”. Their head is typically bluish-gray with a blunt, bulbous snout. The body can be dark brown to gray, developing an orange stripe during spawning season. Bluehead sucker prefer areas of swift water and rocky river bottoms. An assessment in the early 2000’s indicated that bluehead sucker were restricted to approximately 50% of their historic range.

 

Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdi)

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Mottled sculpin have a discontinuous but wide range throughout North America. They have a broad, flat head, large fins, and grow to about 6”. Sculpin are mottled brown/black with males developing reddish brown/cream colors along their top fin during breeding. They use their broad, flat heads and large pectoral fins to aid them in maintaining their position on the stream bottom, where they can better avoid predators. Sculpin require clear, well-oxygenated water and prefer habitats with cover.

 

Native fish illustrations provided by Ben Sutter, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources 

Pink Prickly Pear Cactus Flower

Natural History Tours

Ellen Peterson and Jane Baack both of California and both educators recently went on a Natural History Tour with Nate Waggoner here at the Escalante Outfitters.  They loved it.  10/10 would recommend.

An Amazing 3 hours of Geology, Paleontology, Archaeology, Flora/Fauna & cultural history tailored to your interests and skill level.  We can range over the Boulder Mountain and through the Grand Staircase National Monument. Natural History Tours are a great way to experience the area and learn something new!

BahatiMamas

The food is local. The story is global.

One of our clothing vendors Threads for Thoughts is giving 10% of specific clothing purchases to this organization.  Shop and support.

The International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program

Each year, the IRC helps thousands of refugees who have been granted sanctuary in the United States to rebuild their lives. An essential part of our broader resettlement efforts, the New Roots program enables refugees to reestablish their ties to the land, celebrate their heritage and nourish themselves and their neighbors by planting strong roots—literally—in their new communities.

BahatiMamas

Bahati Mama’s: Seeds of Change

A decade ago, thousands of Somali Bantu refugees who had fled civil war in their home country were granted sanctuary in the United States. In San Diego, IRC staff helped arriving Somali Bantu families to find jobs, learn English and enroll their children in school. But starting new lives in a city where the language, the customs—even the grocery stores—were unfamiliar presented numerous challenges.

Somali Bantu leaders asked the IRC for help in finding land where their community could grow their own food, as they had for centuries in Somalia. With our assistance, Somali Bantu farmers won approval to transform a 2.3-acre vacant lot near the IRC’s San Diego office into an urban farm. By the end of the first summer, refugee farmers from around the world were harvesting 1,000 pounds of fresh produce a week. The IRC provided ongoing technical support, helping them to adapt their agrarian skills to the local climate.

Soon after, a group of women who had helped inspire the Somali Bantu community’s quest to farm in San Diego began marketing their produce for extra income. They called themselves the Bahati Mamas, meaning “lucky mamas” in their native language, Kizigua. They say they are lucky to live in a place where they can reestablish their ties to the land and nourish their families and neighbors with what they grow. “We want our children to eat tomatoes, not tomato ketchup,” they say.

Inspired by the leadership and vision of farmers like the Bahati Mamas, the IRC launched the New Roots program to help resettled refugees across the U.S. grow healthy food and share their knowledge and skills with their new communities.