Friday, June 22, 2018

Utah Photo Expedition - Day 1


This is the first of five posts about a 5-day photo expedition to central Utah that I took March 31 – April 4 with a photo buddy, Bruce Shah.  The primary objective was to explore the more remote areas of Capitol Reef National Park (to which I’ll devote posts 3 and 4), but getting there and back we visited and photographed a lot of other cool places.

Accordingly, here’s the plan for my next few posts in this blog:

Day 1 (this post):  Shiprock, Wilson Arch, Fisher Towers, Cisco (ghost town)

Day 2:  Goblin Valley, Factory Butte, en route to Capitol Reef NP

Day 3:  Capitol Reef NP– Cathedral Valley

Day 4:  Capitol Reef NP – Waterpocket Fold

Day 5:  Factory Butte, Natural Bridges National Monument

So here we go . . .

Day 1

We left Albuquerque in the dark morning of March 31 ultimately headed for our first overnight in Green River, UT, via Shiprock, NM; Cortez, CO; and Moab, UT.

Shiprock figures in many Navajo origin stories, and is considered a sacred place to the Navajo people.  Geologically, it's what remains of the throat of a volcano formed 27-30 million years ago whose overlying material eroded away over time, leaving the harder igneous rock in the shape it had when it was underground.

The formation stands nearly 1,600 feet above the surrounding plain, and has three wall-like sheets of igneous rock known as dikes radiating out from the main area.  Here’s a satellite view (north at the top):

Courtesy Google Maps

Here are two views of the north-south dike wall from ground level, looking north toward Shiprock:

From Shiprock we drove north through southwestern Colorado and then west into southeastern Utah.  South of Moab we stopped at Wilson Arch, named for two brothers who lived in the vicinity during the 1800s.

The arch spans 96 feet and its height is 46 feet.

From Moab we took the highway that follows the Colorado River north through Castle Valley to Fisher Towers, a series of sandstone towers that are being created (on a geological time scale) from the erosion of a mesa.

With some towers up to 1,000 feet tall, the Fisher Towers are a favorite place for rock climbers.  We did not see any climbers on this trip, but here's a photo from a visit two years ago:

After our stop at Fisher Towers, we continued north to the abandoned town of Cisco -- a scattering of collapsed buildings, burned out campers and trailers, and graffiti-tagged junk cars near Interstate 70.  

Cisco started in the 1880s as a water re-filling station for locomotives of the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad.  It grew with the railroad and became a provisioning center for cattle ranchers and sheep herders, where livestock could be shipped to market.  Discovery of oil and gas in the area increased Cisco's population dramatically, but the town collapsed with decline of the steam engine and the construction of I-70, which bypassed the town.

There's not much left now, but it didn't appear to be completely deserted, either -- maybe a meth lab or a rendezvous for drug deals in there somewhere.

In any case, it was a depressing and challenging place to photograph.  I had to work to capture the feel of utter desolation, and to that end I think black-and-white is more effective.

If you would like to see these images in a larger format, please visit my photography website, Todos Juntos Photography, by clicking here.


1 comment:

  1. Lance, these photos are amazing and some of the best you have done. all I can say is Wow!!