Capitol Reef’s Navajo Knobs trail

The Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef National Park is a 9.5 mile out-and-back hike that starts from the main canyon floor and climbs to the eponymous “knobs” – small rocky outcrops on the canyon rim that offer panoramic views over the desert. Chris and I tackled this hike on our Spring trip to Utah and it made for an excellent, not too demanding, day out.

I continue to think that Capitol Reef is the most under-rated of Utah’s National Parks (all of which, of course, are objectively fabulous!). It’s not too crowded, and offers hikes that cater to whatever mood you’re in. My recommendations for hikes are:

  • Upper Muley Twist – if you’re up for a long day hike, this is my favorite route (not really a trail) in Capitol Reef.
  • Sulphur Creek – a non-technical route down a narrow canyon that makes for a fun adventure.
  • Sheets Gulch – one of three narrow canyons, with decent slot sections, that can be explored on the eastern side of Capitol Reef.
  • Navajo Knobs – a maintained trail that unlike most of the hikes in this region follows a canyon rim with excellent views.
  • Spring Canyon – a quiet backcountry canyon that makes for a good out-and-back day hike from Chimney Rock, a one-way shuttle trip that ends with a ford of the Fremont River, or longer backpacking trips that include the upper part of the canyon.
  • Grand Gulch – Frying Pan loop – a sampler of the scenery in the core region of the park.
  • Gateway Arch

    Stopped by the Gateway Arch in St Louis the other day, just for half an hour or so with no special light or weather. It’s really an amazingly beautiful monument. We took a bunch of pictures before, walking away down to the river, my wife spotted the second image, which is my favorite.

    Gateway to the West

    Gateway Arch, St Louis

    Shot with the Sony RX100 Mk 2.

    Hiking Sheets Gulch

    A short video showing the hike Chris and I did into Sheets Gulch, in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park. It’s an unmaintained route, but at least in good conditions (such as we had) it’s not difficult. In fact, among the small number of parties we met there was one with fairly young children. Of course it might be tougher if there had been recent rain leaving pools of water to contend with in the canyon! Continuing my flirtation with mirrorless the footage was shot with a rented Panasonic GH5 and a 24-70mm (equivalent) lens. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t quite nail all the shots as I would have liked, but my feeling is that the footage overall is still better than from my Canon 5D3.

    Mdina, Malta

    A couple of images from a weekend trip to Malta. These were taken with the Sony RX100 II that remains my go-to choice for non-photographic vacations and work trips.

    Stumbling across a Maltese wedding in Mdina

    The Old City of Mdina, Malta

    Snake on slickrock

    You don’t always get what you expect. For a weekend hiking in Capitol Reef national park I went with an almost entirely video-oriented setup – a rented Panasonic GH5 and the m4/3 equivalent of a 24-70mm lens. I haven’t had time to look at the footage, but there is one image that I think worked… a small snake hiding (not very successfully) behind a couple of rocks in Sheets Gulch.

    Small snake in Sheets Gulch, Capitol Reef

    Snowy Flatirons

    A highlight of my winter drive into work is the sight of the Flatirons plastered in fresh snow after a storm has passed through. It’s not a sight that usually lasts very long; the Flatirons are steep and a day of sun is normally enough to slough the snow off. Seeing that the skies were meant to clear overnight after fresh snow yesterday, I headed out in the pre-dawn hours to see if there was an image to be made, either from the office or from Chautauqua. A crescent moon provided some illumination.

    Flatirons at night in winter

    Boulder Flatirons after fresh snow

    The snow was still quite fresh, and it wasn’t really all that cold, so I set up with two cameras and ultrawide lenses just past the Chautauqua parking lot. The final image is a stitch of the two composites, each of which is a stack of about 80 30s exposures (ISO 800, f/5.6).

    Eclipse no show

    For the lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 I staked out locations in the Indian Peaks and at the overlook south of Boulder en route to Golden. On both occasions I shot wide angle through the eclipse, ending up with both time lapse footage and a composite image. Those efforts worked out pretty well. For the January 2018 edition I decided to try something different. The moon was going to set over the mountains while still in total eclipse, minutes before dawn. A long telephoto shot from the Lost Gulch Overlook on Flagstaff Mountain looked like it had potential.

    My plan, it turned out, was not entirely original. Leaving home at 6am, a line of vehicles snaked up the hairpin bends to the overlook, where cars were parked for a hundred yards along the road! Maybe 50 people were out in the pre-dawn gloom, a fair number of whom sported hefty tripods and serious glass. Of the guest of honor, alas, there was no sign. A bank of low cloud in Boulder Canyon was potentially a scenic addition, but higher clouds completely blocked any view of the moon toward the western horizon. Sunrise didn’t happen either.

    In lieu of the eclipse I shot a handful of frames of the peaks peeking through breaks in the clouds, along with some images of the view east to the plains with some low angle light below the clouds.

    Peaks from the Lost Gulch Overlook

    US 36 heading into Boulder