The Waterfall at Ice Box Canyon

This week my family and I spent a few hours hiking through Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock to see the seasonal waterfall. It’s fed by melting snow and, since this winter has been especially rainy here (and snowy in the mountains), we figured it would be strong this year. In fact, it was so strong that half the trail was flooded and we had to leapfrog and wade our way in!

Totally worth it, though. Here are some shots at the end.

[I also wrote about this hike eight years ago.]

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Vegas Skies

Some more recent local sky views:

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Sunrise just started touching the mountains to the west.

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Sunset 4.11.16 part 1 of 5. Thomas Cole could have painted this.

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2 of 5

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3 of 5

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4 of 5

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5 of 5

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A sunset last week, by Aliante Station

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Heading east on Cheyenne, late afternoon sun catches one small mountain.

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Darn you, Savers sign! This was almost epic.

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Two Views of This Morning’s Sunrise

Our usual air pollution, plus some extra dust courtesy of strong winds lately, have produced some especially great celestial views around here.

I just finished Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction classic Rendezvous With Rama, and chapter one concerns an asteroid strike that destroys the Mediterranean Sea but, the story says, the whole world enjoyed the most beautiful sunrises ever for the next six months.

I really like how the rays not only leap out from behind clouds here, but clearly shoot down in front of the mountains.

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This Week at the Valley of Fire

On the pro side, our family camp out Monday and Tuesday provided lots of great scenery, sun, and exercise. We all climbed and hiked like crazy, including the baby. The temperature was perfect. The landscapes were majestic. The together time was fun.

On the con, a huge wind storm blew dirt in our faces and broke my biggest tent. The fabric ripped, half the poles snapped, and the metal hardware that connects the poles to the tent fabric was actually broken in half! Never seen anything like it. And we got orange sand all over our stuff. Guess Anakin Skywalker was right about that junk after all.

On balance, a great experience, though!

We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and Titanic features….We need to witness our own limits transgressed.” –Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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13 Pictures of Death Valley

I took these pictures with my phone’s camera during a spontaneous family vacation this last weekend.

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Sunset from Zabriskie Point, January 1, 2016

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Cloudy afternoon at Mesquite Sand Dunes, January 2, 2016

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Cloudy afternoon at Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016. Here, I love the contrasting brightness of the three triangles in the composition. I like the vertical shot for a similar reason.

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Late afternoon through the clouds from a narrow passage in Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Sunset from Golden Canyon, January 2, 2016

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Looking out over Death Valley at dusk from Artist Drive, January 2, 2016

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Light and Color in Layers at Red Rock Canyon

Took several of my children hiking at Red Rock Canyon this morning.  My favorite pictures of the landscape are these two, showing mid-morning sunbeams streaming down over a lush desert vista, rolling out in layers.  This view is facing southeast from the highest point of the Keystone Thrush Trail.

 

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Of course, the whole family’s favorite view of the hike was this little critter.  I’ve lived here my whole life, and this is actually the first tarantula I’ve seen out in the desert:

 

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Late Summer 2014 Photos

Some of my favorites as I review the contents of my tablet from the last two months:

Sunset at North Las Vegas Stake Pioneer Day, Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sunset at North Las Vegas Stake Pioneer Day, Saturday, July 26, 2014

At Zion National Park, August 2014, approaching the Narrows.  In canyons, I like the contrast between high stone walls and sky.  Here, I also like the dark tone.

At Zion National Park, August 2014, approaching the Narrows. In canyons, I like the contrast between high stone walls and sky. Here, I also like the dark tone.

And here I like the bright tone.

And here I like the bright tone.

Great shade of blue in this one.

Great shade of blue in this one.

I like this view of receding canyon walls, lapping like waves.

I like this view of receding canyon walls, lapping like waves.

It was a cloudy day, which created some nice contrasts, such as here, with darkness in the foreground and light farther off.

It was a cloudy day, which created some nice contrasts, such as here, with darkness in the foreground and light farther off.

Preparing to splash around with the kids in the Virgin River.

Preparing to splash around with the kids in the Virgin River.

Directly above the previous picture.

Directly above the previous picture.

At Spring Mountain Ranch, west of Las Vegas, August 29, 2014.  We went to see a production of Shrek, and it was a ton of fun, but I always like the wait--standing out there just before sunset creates some excellent chances to see light streaming sideways through these mountains.

At Spring Mountain Ranch, west of Las Vegas, August 29, 2014. We went to see a production of Shrek, and it was a ton of fun, but I always like the wait–standing out there just before sunset creates some excellent chances to see light streaming sideways through these mountains.

And into this nearby field.

And into this nearby field.

Going...going...

Going…going…

A small pool created by the setting sun.

A small pool created by the setting sun.

Sun's almost done for the day, and the light rays are stronger now.

Sun’s almost done for the day, and the light rays are stronger now.

My favorite view of the Salt Lake Temple: Saturday, August 30, 2014.

My favorite view of the Salt Lake Temple: Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Sunrise on my way to work, Friday, September 5, 2014.

Sunrise on my way to work, Friday, September 5, 2014.

The horizon is giving birth  to a sun.

The horizon is giving birth to a sun.

God’s Art

The word “art” is related to words like “artifice” and “artificial,” which reminds us that art refers to things people create to represent beauty and other ideas.  All human art is, by definition, artificial.

But God’s art is natural.  A great example is below.  This is the photo used for the cover of the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  It’s a shot of Yosemite, California.  On our left is El Capitan, a vertical cliff well over half a mile high.  In the central distance is Half Dome rock.  On the left is Bridalveil fall, one of the most beautiful and popular falls in the U.S.

In this photo, mist covers the forest of the valley floor as the dawning sun first touches the highest points around it.

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Hiking to the Top of Mt. Charleston

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son and I tried hiking to the top of Mt. Charleston, which is 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas and at nearly 12,000 feet is the highest peak in southern Nevada.  We only made it halfway, but a few days ago I went back and did the whole thing.

I went up the south trail, and down the north trail.  Those are about eight miles each, and with the short hike up the highway to get back to my car, the whole trip was 17 miles.  That took me ten hours (5.5 hours to get up, 4.5 hours to get back down).  I drank seven water bottles during the hike, FYI.  Here are some pictures I took along the way:

I took this picture just to capture that blue sky. The sky never gets that deep of a hue down here in the valley. This is in a meadow at about 10,000 feet.

Looking southwest over rural Nevada from 10,000 feet.

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Two Views From Hilltop Campground

Here are two photos from my family’s campout this week at Mt. Charleston’s Hilltop campground.

Looking southeast from Mt. Charleston's Hilltop campground, into the Las Vegas valley.

Las Vegas sits at around 2000 feet above sea level; this campground, 8400 feet.  To help visualize the distances here, see that little white line sticking up from the valley on the right?  That’s the Stratosphere Tower.  It’s 1149 feet tall. 

I tried to get a shot of this view at night, with a mostly full moon hanging over the city lights, but my camera isn’t strong enough.

Looking northeast from Hilltop campground across the Nevada interior