Sandstone and Desert Bighorns in the Valley of Fire
Another trip into the Valley of Fire. Got a little later start than anticipated because of some heavy early morning clouds, initially thought the day was going to be washed out, but the sun broke through around 8 so off I went.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
The target this morning was the Fire Wave, a trail leading off from parking lot #3. The trail leading out to the wave is listed at .6 miles, but it seemed longer to me, probably because of all the stops for photographs in the early morning light.
Textures and colors of the sandstone are quite remarkable, I have never seen so much purple stone before, and mixed in with the reds, oranges, yellows, and whites, sometimes seems all but unbelievable.
Once at the wave, which really is just yet one more supporting piece of the overall incredible landscape here, I crossed over the wash below to gain a little elevation to shoot down on the wave and catch all the glorious colors beyond it.
Turns out, the real highlights of this hike were on the trip back, not retracing my steps on the trail, but rather following the wash most of the way back to the road, and then cutting up and across the sandstone south of the wave.
The colors in this area are simply mind boggling!
When I made it back to the road, I still had an uphill walk of 3/4 of a mile back to the parking lot. All told, probably covered no more than 3 miles, but for someone as badly out of shape as myself, this was a strenuous, but very rewarding trek, up, down, and over the sandstone and sloshing through soft sand.
Desert Bighorn Sheep
After a little bit of water and a few minutes of sitting around recuperating, I continued my drive out to the White Domes, hoping to run into some of the park’s desert bighorn sheep.
And since today seemed to be one of those days where everything just fell into place for me, sure enough, off in the distance, I spotted some sheep just a 1/2 mile from the end of the road.
I watched for a while to figure out exactly which direction they were grazing in, then grabbed the tripod and 200-400mm lens and trekked out after them, legs and back complaining all the way, but no way was I going to miss this opportunity.
The sheep, about a dozen of them, were, unfortunately grazing slowly directly into the sun, and I had to find a way to at least get in position with the sun anywhere but directly in front of me, that meant I had to somehow overtake the small herd, or at least catch up to them so the sun was at 90 degrees to us.
I ended up scrambling up rocks and putting a small valley between us so they wouldn’t be scared off by my actions, as they were watching my every move very carefully. Fortunately for me, they undoubtably are pretty familiar with people, living in a state park full of hikers as they do.
Just as I reached a point where I might get some decent shots, they all decided to stop grazing in the sunlight of the valley below and retreat up a steep sandstone slope across the way to lay in the shade and rest. After all my hard work, I now was going to have to be happy with whatever I could get in some very difficult lighting conditions. As you can see though, some of them came out fairly well, all things considered.
A good section of the park, including all the area around the two campgrounds, consists of red rock formations, and these I have not yet explored, being way too distracted by the more colorful portions of the park.
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