Saturday, November 22, 2014

GRAND CANYON 2014


Grand Canyon 2014
Travel Journal by John Gilbert

Day 1-10/23/14: Flew from St. Louis to Phoenix, AZ. Left Saint Louis at 8:00am arrived at 9:00am.  Three hour flight with a two hour time change.  Desert like area.  Lot of cactus. By the time we got the car and got on our way it was around 3:07 Central Time and 5:07pm Pacific. Traveled Highway 17 north and then took scenic route 179 through Sedona. (Click on images to see a larger view)



 
Day 2-10/24/14:  Took the day to scope out the Grand Canyon.  Took cameras but did not plan any photo shoots other than what I could capture hand held.  We rented a couple of bicycles for the day and road to Yaki Point which is the eastern section of the south rim of the Canyon.  On our return we rode to the Grand Canyon Village.  This section of the rim bridges the east “Kaibab Rim Route” with the west “Hermit Road Route”.  The Grand Canyon Village houses the mule barns and is the location for Bright Angel Trailhead, the mule trail to the bottom and the Colorado River.  The scenery is beautiful and truly is a wonder to behold.





Day 3-10/25/14:   Today we set out to drive the east rim of the Canyon also known as Desert View Drive.  Another beautiful morning.  Our first stop was at an over look on Desert View Drive.   It was early morning and the sun was just beginning to rise.  I wish we had some cloud cover but it was a clear sky with shades of yellow, blue, purple, and pink hues as part of the sunrise.  After capturing a few images we continued on and stopped at Grandview Point then it was on to Moran Point. We took a break to tour the Tusayan Museum and Ruin. Next was Lipan Point, then Navajo Point and finally Desert View.  This drive is not heavily traveled but one that yields awesome panoramic views of the Grand Canyon (




Day 4-10/26/14: Today was the day to hike Hermits Rest Road Rim. There are three section to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, The Village Route, Kaibab Rim Route, and the Hermit Rest Road.   A system of shuttle buses travel a restricted paved road that runs parallel to the rim hiking corridor. Although vehicles are restricted there are bus links at every viewing point.  This allows hikers to get off the trail at designated points and be shuttled back to their starting locations.  The Hermits Rest Road Rim section is approximately 8 miles long one way.  (



We parked at the Village section and took the shuttle to the beginning of the Hermits Rest Road.  Our first overlook, Trail View Point was .7 mile from our starting location.  Here we took a series of stairs down the Canyon to the observation area.   For some reason climbing back up those stairs was a workout but remember the higher altitude puts more pressure on the old lungs. (
We got back on the rim trail and proceeded another .7 mile to Maricopa Point.  Every point is a photo opportunity.  Now the pros would scope out the area for a day or two and pick that one spot for a dynamite picture.  Remember this was my first trip to the Grand Canyon so I want pictures of it all for my travel gallery.  On my return trip I will pick out that magic spot and concentrate on getting a magic capture.  I must admit that I am well please with my first pictures which can be seen on my gallery at www.jmgilbertphoto.com in the “New Photo” folder.  From here we hiked .5 mile to Powell Point.  I switched to a Nikon 16mm wide angle lens.  Using a tripod I set up and took a series of shots.  My aperture was set at f/13 to give some depth-of-field with my ISO at 200.  I varied my shutter speeds to create my bracketed composures.  This lens can have a bowed or distorted appearance, which can be corrected in the RAW Converter.  However by positioning the lens to align with the horizon I was able to compensate for most of the lens distortion.  This was a moderately easy image to blend due the clean separation of the sky form the canyon.  It was at this location that we came upon a young couple getting married, naturally I fired off a few shots of the wedding party and sent them the copies.


The next overlook was Hopi Point and only .3 mile along the rim. Between Hopi Point and Mohave Point the rim trail has places that are 3 to f feet wide and a straight drop over the edge to the canyon below.  (Insert _JMG5975)  Continuing our rim hike we arrived at Mohave Point after .8 mile.  Each of these points represented a photo opportunity and a water break.  From Mohave it was 1.1 mile to the Abyss and from Abyss to Monument Creek Vista was another .9 mile.  There was a bench on the rim trail overlooking a panoramic view of the canyon so took a 30 minute break to eat our pre-packed lunch.  Time to go and our next leg of our journey was a 1.7 mile stretch to Pima Point.  From here we headed toward the last leg of our hike which was 1.1 mile and uphill to Hermits Rest.  If I do this again I will start my hike at Hermit’s Rest so that the last few legs of the trail are shorter between observation points.


Day 5-10/27/14: We went to Page, AZ to photograph the Lower Antelope Canyon. (AC) and Horse Shoe Bend. (HB). Antelope Canyon required us to hike 1/4 mile to entrance, then descend three stories into the Canyon.  There is a lot of fine sand in this area which can be very slippery on the rocks.  Used Ken's Tours as recommended by Trip Advisors.  The Photo Pass was $48 and good for two hours. You are on your own but Watch you watch because it is $20 for each twenty minutes of overtime.  The competitor has group photo tours but I would not recommend it because in the canyon there is limited space to set up.  The regular tour groups are not allowed to have tripods.  They allowed me to follow the group tour in and I had no problem setting up my tripod to get a specific shot. Because this was late in the season and probably the last group for the day, the group I as following took their time and I was able to follow behind without losing contact with them.   Awesome experience and the Navaho guides were excellent and knew all the right spots to get a great shot.

Next it was on to Horse Shoe Bend.  It was a short drive from Antelope Canyon.  This was a ¾ mile hike.  The first leg of this hike has a moderately steep elevation probably made moderate by the deep fine sand.  The approach to the actual bend is open and panoramic.  After cresting the first hill it is all downhill thereafter and yes lots of sand.  On the final approach to the bend I became cognizant of my surroundings and the drop off that I was approaching.  Having a height phobia I had problems with this but was not leaving without a picture to show that I had been there.  So I did the only sane thing I could do.  I crawled on me belly to get to the edge.  No tripod for me, no way was I going to stand on the edge of that cliff looking down 1,000 feet.  This was going to strictly be a hand held capture in a prone position.   Well I have been there!  I have capture the scene! And I absolutely am NOT going back!  Well at least I don’t think so anyway. 
That night it was back to the rim for some star photography.  This was a first for me and a learning experience. 

Day 5-10/28/14: Breakfast in Williams at Pine Country Restaurant.  Took scenic route 89A through Sedona.  Stopped at overlook to shop with Navaho venders.  Took pictures of cactus plants just outside of Phoenix.  Check in at a motel and rested up for the return flight back to St. Louis and the drive home.  I definitely want to go back and I want to drive all the way even though it will be a 24 hour drive.  Next on my bucket list is Zion, Bryce, and Archer’s National Parks.  Please visit my galleries at www.jmgilbertphoto.com and www.jmgilbertphoto.net.  Thanks!

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