The Trophic Cascade from the Gray Wolf

The Canyon Wolf Pack alpha pair lead their pups along a ridge near Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.

I won’t waste your time in discussing political agendas and biases for and against the gray wolf. We all know that it is a controversial species that many feel is not at all welcome in nature, despite the fact that it has been an integral part of that very nature for tens of thousands of years. Virtually all of the biases against these mystical creatures comes from a simple misunderstanding of their very nature. In previous posts, I have discussed at length why more wolves are needed across the country and dissected the bias from both standpoints. One key factor I have never laid out in full detail, however, is the trophic cascade of events that happens once wolves reestablish a healthy presence in their chosen environment. – Continue reading

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Court of the Patriarchs in Zion Canyon

The Virgin River flows past the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion Canyon of Zion National Park, Utah.

Zion Canyon in Zion National Park can be a tricky place for sunrise or sunset. Locations for capturing direct light on any of the surrounding peaks or canyon walls is pretty minimal, so as a result, I began scouting out some potential shots, and eventually settled on the Court of the Patriarchs with the Virgin River as the foreground. While it wasn’t a spectacular sunset, there were a few clouds in the sky that made it worth it and provided a good amount of interest to round out the whole scene.

Zion National Park was the first national park I ever visited back in 2004, so it holds a good amount of sentimentality for me, and seeing the towering sandstone peaks is always a welcome sight. – Continue reading

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Appreciating the Weather in Zion National Park

A waterfall from a recent storm pours over a cliff in Zion Canyon in Zion National Park, Utah.

On the first leg of my trip, I hit an unexpected cold front. Since I was only a couple of hours away from Zion National Park, I decided that that would be the best place to wait it out for a couple of nights since it was much lower in elevation than where I was, and thus, warmer. The next day I made the best of it and spent the entire day hiking around Zion Canyon, warming up at Weeping Rock, where this photo was taken, then moving on to Hidden Canyon, The Emerald Pools and finally, after a nice lunch and break, heading up Angel’s Landing.

To put it simply, don’t let the weather ruin your day, or especially your entire trip. – Continue reading

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Overcoming Fear at Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

Hikers pause before ascending Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, Utah

First off, if you don’t see the hikers in the photo, they’re at the very bottom-right. I was glad I got them in there since they provide such a great sense of scale. The trail itself to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, Utah starts off not too different from any other moderate-to-strenuous hike. You’re climbing up the western wall of Zion Canyon before reaching a narrow canyon that will take you up to Scout’s Lookout where you get a good view of the last half-mile: an ascent straight up Angel’s Landing. The rock formation known as Angel’s Landing, which is what the hike is named for, shoots out of the canyon walls and goes seemingly straight up into Zion Canyon. The trail narrows in some places to no wider than about ten feet (with a chain to hold on to) and on either side is roughly a 1,000 foot drop. – Continue reading

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Waterfall in Zion National Park

Rain and Snow-Melt Waterfall in Zion National Park, Utah

Another site on my trip I was anxious to get back to and get some new, updated shots was Zion National Park in southern Utah. I was trying to get there before a big cold front was coming there and upon driving south on Highway 89 to get there, I discovered I didn’t quite beat the cold front. From out of nowhere it began snowing just as hard as anything I’ve seen here in Jackson Hole. Given that it was snowing all the way in, I was excited to get into the park and get some shots of it covered in snow, something I had yet to see and had always wanted to see. By the time I reached the entrance station however, the biggest part of the storm had passed and the snow was melting fast! – Continue reading

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Waterfall in Zion Canyon

A waterfall from recent rain pours over a cliff in Zion National Park, Utah.

Another from the archive (don’t worry, new pics are on the way). This was from a road trip back in the fall 2006. The original plan was to go kayaking down the Colorado River just downstream from the Hoover Dam. A massive storm came in that weekend and completely washed out the road that we were going to be picked up on, leaving the entire weekend up in the air. We were already in Boulder City, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas, so I opted to make a road trip out of it. Only one other friend was willing to come along and so he and my girlfriend at the time wound up hitting Bryce Canyon National Park, the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and of course Zion National Park before heading back home to Phoenix, Arizona. – Continue reading

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