Photo of the Week - September 25, 2012

Seattle Street Scene

September 25, 2012

Photo of the Week - September 12, 2012

Water Stained Canyon Wall
Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail
Escalante National Monument, Utah

September 12, 2012

Photo of the Week - September 11, 2012

Slickrock Landscape
Dixie National Forest
Near Escalante, Utah

September 11, 2012

Photo of the Week - September 9, 2012

Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Trees
Pinus longaeva
Spectra Point Trail
Cedar Breaks National Monument

September 9, 2012

Bristlecone Pine trees found in the high elevations of the dry intermountain West are among the oldest living organisms found on Earth. On Cedar Break's Spectra Point Trail, there is one tree which is over 1,600 years old. The trees are found between 8,000 and 10,500 feet elevation at Cedar Breaks.

According to the National Park Service:
"Bristlecone pine is also known as "Wind Timber", "Hickory Pine", "Krummholz" and "Foxtail Pine." It is a member of the group of pines known as foxtail pines, because of the shape of the branches and the way the needles stay attached all the way up the limb. The limbs look like small foxtails."

"The tree is used heavily in the science of dendrochronology, where tree rings of known ages are compared against environmental conditions and a history of previous environmental conditions is recorded. Because the trees are thousands of years old, we can understand what the environment was like thousands of years ago, just by comparing the tree rings.

The tree is also noteworthy because the needles stay on the limb for over 40 years, unlike most other pines, which shed their needles every few years. This is important, because the tree can go through periods when it does not grow at all. At such high elevations (8,000-11,000 ft), there are years when the environment does not thaw. This prevents the tree from putting on a new year's growth (both foliage and cambium rings.) By keeping its needles longer, the tree doesn't lose all of its foliage without having the opportunity to grow new needles. It also means that a tree with 900 obvious rings may be significantly older.

Great longevity is also insured by highly resinous wood which helps prevent the trees from desiccating in the hot, dry temperatures. This resin also helps shield the bristlecones from insects and harmful bacteria that prey upon many other, more fragile trees."

Photo of the Week - September 9, 2012

Sunset from the Spectra Point Trail
Cedar Breaks National Monument

September 9, 2012

Cedar Breaks National Monument is about 15 miles as the crow flies from Cedar City, Utah. The upper rim of the monument sits at 10,350 feet. Cedar City sits 4,550 feet lower at the intersection of the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin.

The geologic history of Cedar Breaks began about 60 million years ago when sediments were deposited into ancient Lake Claron. As algae living in the lake died, it cemented the particles together, creating limestone.

About 10 million years ago, the Hurricane Fault became active just east of today's Cedar City. It uplifted the eastern side of the fault, creating the Markagunt Plateau.

The uplifted plateau became susceptible to the forces of wind, water and chemical erosion.

Today, we see an ever evolving amphitheatre of limestone towers and magnificently colored cliffs.

The Spectra Trail follows about 2 miles of the amphitheatre's rim, giving you many amazing vistas of the 6 mile wide bowl.

Photo of the Week - September 7, 2012

Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness Trail
Red Cliffs Recreation Area
Near St. George, Utah

September 7, 2012

Southern Utah is known for all its beautiful parks and monuments. Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches and other famous parks get the bulk of the publicity. For every major park, there are two or three state parks, Bureau of Land Management sites and other public spaces to enjoy.

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is located near St. George, Utah and it is well worth a visit the next time you find yourself in Southwestern Utah. Red Cliffs marks the space where the Mojave Desert, great Basin and the Colorado Plateau meet. It was set aside to protect the habitat of the Desert Tortoise.

Much of the Red Cliffs is remote wilderness. However, several easy access points are also available. The photos on this post were taken on the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness trail, which is leaves from the Red Cliffs Campground, just off I-15, north of St.George. The trail follows the river bottom as it winds through the narrowing canyon. After two miles or so, the trail narrows and should be attempted by skilled hikers only. There are several other trails in and around the campground which can be enjoyed by all levels of hikers.

Snow Canyon State Park is another excellent spot to enjoy the Red Cliffs. Located northwest of St. George, the state park offers scenic viewpoints and a wide variety of trails.
The Nature Conservancy is one of the partners in the preservation of Red Cliffs. Visit their web page here.

Photo of the Week - September 5, 2012

Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area
Bureau of Land Management

September 5, 2012

One of the surprising delights of traveling northwest on Interstate 15 from Las Vegas towards St. George, Utah is the Virgin River Gorge, which straddles the upper northwestern corner of Arizona. The Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, just off exit 18, is the only developed access to some of the most wild and remote land in the Southwest. If you are traveling through, take a few minutes to get off the highway and explore the river bottom adjacent to the picnic area.

Deseret News article on the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area

Photo of the Week - September 5, 2012

Preparing to Board a Flight
McCarran International Airport
Las Vegas, Nevada

September 5, 2012 

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