My oldest son took me hiking a couple of weeks ago during his leave after graduating from Marine boot camp. I can’t believe this awesome hike existed around here and I never even knew it was there!
It’s a narrow trail that winds down a desert canyon outside of Boulder City, not far from Hoover Dam. There are frequent big drops along boulders that must be carefully scaled–many have ropes in place to help hikers safely navigate the rocky dips that are too far to jump.
But it’s absolutely worth it. The hike itself is a worthy challenge for experienced and agile hikers, the hot springs along the way are impressive, and the end of the trail–at the edge of the Colorado river–is flat out gorgeous.
We began in the early morning darkness, and the trail was empty–we didn’t see anybody until we started back to the start. It was a fantastic way to spend a morning.
On the way to take my wife to see a movie tonight, we waited at a red light and I had to get a quick shot of this impending sunset. It’s not a great picture, and it’s far from a gorgeous sunset, for that matter, but this is actually a good example of my favorite kind of light: the kind that streaks across the sky and creates sharp silhouettes.
There are lots of small mountains to the west of Las Vegas, but they usually appear to be just a drab, uniform row of jagged rocks. But, at the right time of day, at the right time of the year, the sun sets at an angle just right for sending its rays through the gaps between them, reminding us that they’re actually layered silently and dozens of miles apart.
In the picture above, starting in the middle and looking left, there are four distinct mountains visible, each highlighted by a unique brilliance of sideways light; a different quality of sunlight slides down diagonally through the spaces separating them.
Light shows us the size of the empty space that was invisible before, while giving each of the pieces of mountain stacked side by side over there its own personality.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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.
Great shade of blue in this one.
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.
Preparing to splash around with the kids in the Virgin River.
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.
And into this nearby field.
A small pool created by the setting sun.
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.
Sunrise on my way to work, Friday, September 5, 2014.
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.