Zion Narrows III


The pronounced cross-bedding (diagonal layering) of this Navajo Sandstone wall exposed by Virgin river erosion is the effect of wind drifting sands of the largest known sand desert formed in the Jurassic era lasting for 56 million years (185 million years ago). This photograph contrasts the ever new Virgin River with this ancient rock, deepening shadows suggest the depth of time.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows II

more Narrows information and perfecting the photograph

My research for Zion Narrows I included a useful map. Perusing the the National Park Service web site I could find nothing for the Narrows. This week, while perfecting the three file merge, I kicked around in “google” and found this map hidden away in a section devoted to dedicated canyoneers planning multiple day backpacks through the entire canyon. These trips are from the “top down” and, I suppose, they do not want to expose the information to day trippers.

Anyway, I downloaded the map and present it here. You can either click on the hyperlink or click “download” to view the map. The file is a 2.5 MB pdf, if you want to download it. The trail accessible from the park proper starts from the bottom. Pam and I made it to just beyond where Ordway canyon joins, about 2 hours from the start. Note there are NO places to escape a flash flood beyond this point and, below, we learned from observation there are few places and many of these were for hikers more, lets say, nimble than Pam and myself.

The following is the result of several hours work merging the three files of Zion Narrows I. Click on the image to open a larger version in a new tab.

This is a comparison of the before and after photographs. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows I

Virgin River at work

Our first day was spent hiking up to the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, called “Wall Street,” where the gorge walls are 1,000 feet high. There, the river is 20 feet across in places and not much wider anywhere. There is NO high ground to escape flash floods, only the high, unforgiving canyon walls.

As we were planning to venture beyond the tame sidewalk of “The Riverside Walk”, our first stop was to an outdoor supply store in Springdale to rent canyoneering shoes, to wade the river comfortably and safely, a sturdy stick to improve stability and free advice on current conditions for the potential of flash floods. You can see the stick in this portrait, mid-narrows. This was July, with a danger of torrential downpours, and we were nervous about this; however, proceeded anyway.

Several miles in, I set up the Manfrotto 468Mg studio tripod with the Kodak DSC pro SLR-c (the “c” specifies compatibility with Canon lenses) and the Canon 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens. Here we look downstream, the way we came. I waited for a clear shot w/o fellow hikers coming up from behind. This was before investing in a wide-angle lens. My plan was to stitch the three shot together.

Click on each photograph for a larger view, in new tab.

The work remaining on the rough draft are to match the edges as close as possible, smooth out the differences until the joins are indiscernible.

Here are the same photographs as a slide show. I enjoy how the long exposure blurred water lead the viewer into the gorge walls.

Captured with a Kodak DCS Pro SLE/c dslr and a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 lens stabilized with the Manfrotto Studio Tripod model 475 and the 468 Hydrostatic ball head.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Summer Walk

Experience a hike around Taughannock Gorge on a summer morning with thunderstorms threatening

Constant winds from thunderstorm updrafts, I brought along an umbrella just in case.

Click photograph for slide show. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click the “Watch on YouTube” for a larger format view and more information about each video.

Taughannock Falls Gorge on a humid summer morning
Hemlock Forest on South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls Gorge from South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls from South Rim trail
View of Taughannock Falls Gorge from the North Rim trail on a humid summer (July) morning. Turkey Vultures circle overhead…they are there most summer days.
View of the first waterfall of Taughannock Gorge from the railroad bridge linking the North and South Rim trails on a humid summer (July) morning. This large waterfall empties to the gorge above the 210+ foot Taughannock Falls.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Zion Merged


The first photograph is the myriad fractures within the Zion Navajo sandstone, hidden water transits from rainfall miles away.

The second photograph, water emerging as a blessed sacrament, bestowal of life nourishing wildflowers, ferns, mosses, trees.

For this third photograph the first two were merged in photoshop for a revelation. I did not take time to smooth the transition, visible as a line. I graduated from this merge technique with the purchase of a wide angle (24 mm) lens. It is so difficult to organize all the angles and exposures, plus time to bring it together.

All photographs from the Kodak DSC Pro SLR/c, Canon Lens EF 200mm 1:2.8 L II stabilized via a Manfrotto 468MG with Hydrostatic Ball Head.

Can you spot the foot path?

Here is a gallery of the three photographs, to flip back and forth.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Three Zion Images

full of ferns, wildflowers, and mosses.

“Water seeping out of the Navajo sandstone creates tranquil springs and the unique “hanging gardens” for which Zion is famous, full of ferns, wildflowers, and mosses.”

Here are three exposures of the same scene.

Click on an image for a closer view.

Can you spot the foot path?

Here is a gallery of the three photographs, to flip back and forth. the primary difference is the exposure within the shadow under the projecting cliff face.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

In Zion Canyon

Edge of the Abyss

Wandering Zion canyon I spied three visitors seemingly trying their luck on the cliff edge, where the water drops.

Look closely and the rope barrier can be picked out. Can you see the three figures? Click on the image for a larger view.

Captured with a Kodak DCS Pro SLE/c dslr and a Canon lens EF 200 mm 1:2.8 L II stabilized with the Manfrotto Studio Tripod model 475 and the 468 Hydrostatic ball head. This series explores the possibility of the iconic “Lone Pine.”

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Father’s Day Visit to Fall Creek Gorge

McGraw Tower Bell Concert

Walking up University Avenue toward Lib Slope, listening to the noon concert from the McGraw Tower carillion (a tuned set of bells), below the Johnson Museum turn left onto a footpath, follow to the steep trail down to the Gorge Overlook along Fall Creek. Look up at the suspension bridge and water powered electric plant. Climb back, turn right and down to Stewart Avenue for the view of Fall Creek Gorge, Cayuga Lake, the former studio of Carl Sagan, built into the gorge wall. In researching this topic I learned Google Maps shows the trail and you can “walk” the trail, Google brought the camera down into the gorge.

An IPhone 7 and video editing software were used for this post.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

June Nature Walk

A perfect afternoon, June 16, 2021

Here is a repost for those who missed the video. Please click on video, below and share your responses via comments. Thank You

The Finger Lakes Trail joins Robert H. Treman New York State Park, running along the south rim along the park border.

Today, I started from the stairs next to the Mill of the upper park, walking along Fish Kill Creek, a brief visit to the CCC plaque, over the new footbridge and a steep climb up to the ridge to a marvelous view over the way we just walked. That is a millipede resting on a wooden trail stake.

A word on the creek name. The Dutch word for creek is “Kill”, the anglicisation of the original name retained the Dutch making it, in effect, “Fish Creek Creek,” not a memorization of fish massacre.

There’s one shot of the damage done to tree leaves by hoards of caterpillars…I found chewed-up leaves at my feet throughout the hike.

Then, I re-join the State Park South Rim trail, down the Cliff Staircase to wander the gorge floor below Lucifer Falls.

Up the Gorge Trail with many shots of these wonders including Lucifer Falls, Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall, and the Gallery.

Close with a shot of early Tiger Lily blooms on the south facing bank of Enfield Creek.

I used a new format with this post, with all media in one You Tube video. Enjoy!!

Finger Lakes Trail and Treman Park June 16 2021 – YouTube

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Apple Orchard in the Wilderness

Persistence of agriculture

….continued from the chapter “A Ride to Reavis Ranch”

Imagine walking across the ranch house ruin towards where I described the former pond. Looking to the east and north from the elevation you see this sight.

In the near distance a grass pasture slopes into Reavis Creek. The creek has flowing water in all but the longest dry seasons. By the way, the trail from Pine Creek is on the slopes of that conical feature in the distance, to the left.

Click any photograph for a larger version.
Looking from the former house site towards the Arizona Trail running beneath the distant red rock ridge. Not the fence rails on the left and apple trees in bloom.

From the ruin, walk down the Arizona Trail, south, for a few hundred feet and turn left into the fields to encounter the same apple tree, and a close up of pure white apple blossoms.

Portrait of a Blooming Apple Tree

At Rest and History

This tree is an outlier of a thick stand of several hundred trees to the north. The Searcher and I rode into the middle of the grove for a rest and chat. The horses were allowed to graze in the abundant new grass brought on by the winter rains.

The Searcher told me the story of the valley and that it was a man named Clemans who planted 600+ apple trees, trees in bloom all around us. The Reavis Valley was long a site of agriculture, starting in the 19th century with Elisha Reavis, who passed away in 1896 and is buried on the slopes of White Mountain, and continued with a series of ranchers and entrepreneurs in the 20th: John Fraser, William Clemans, who planted the trees, and John A. “Hoolie” Bacon, then Bacon’s son-in-law Floyd Stone who sold the land to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1967.

We talked about some earthwork I noticed, in the southern part of the valley. It was part of a water system that diverted Reavis creek flow at the head of the valley to the ranch house. We decided that strange hexogonal structure on the elevation above the house ruin was the site of water storage. At that location the structure would provide a pressure feed for the house and much else.

Abandoned Hay Rake

A mix of winter rains and fertile soil were exploited in the Reavis Valley for a handful of decades, the enterprise now is set aside. This abandoned hay rake and chassis, used to harvest grass in seasons past, is evidence of the work. The apple trees produce to this day without irrigation.

The Searcher touched upon the subject of the “Circlestone” ruin he mentioned on our morning ride. He had never been there, but mentioned some books on the subject. It is a wide circle of rough stone wall enclosing mysterious structures. At this point, I was hooked, and decided to check Circlestone on a later trip. Here are some photographs from one of those trips, in November 2006.

Reavis Ranch Apple Orchard Tree

Reavis Ranch Apples Yellow

Reavis Ranch Apples Red

In my next post The Searcher and I return to Pine Creek, Colorado gives me some trouble and we visit a stand of wild oats in the Reavis Gap.

Click me to visit Michael Stephen Wills Online Arizona Gallery.

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