Death Valley Whirled To Zion: Day 5 Wandering Canyons
As the day breaks in Zion it is off to the Human History Museum to first get a look at how things are looking for sunrise. The sky is flat in color with no clouds but there is an interesting mist and fog coming off the ground. Realizing this could make a unique view from above then alternatively there should be a good perspective at Canyon Overlook. On the way out to the overlook I pass a couple of morning people out for a hike to great the daybreak. Once at Canyon Overlook there is is a group of three photographers one appears to be a local guide and photography instructor doing a tour so I admittedly eavesdrop and hear him talking about how rare it is to see the canyon fill with mist and I can tell it looks like he’d rather be taking photographs instead of instructing them and take that as sign that this is the right place at the right time.
The mist is slowly starting to fill the valley floor of the canyon below, you can still see the canyon road underneath but if the mist thickens then it may cover the entire view below which will make for an interesting rare moment and image. The sun is slow to rise and there is some time to focus on the positioning of initial compositions. Here the sun comes up behind you so that when the light hits the canyon walls it will create a glow on the rocks and shadows throughout the valley. There is also some small evidence of snowfall still remaining and it makes for additional interest to the scene. After taking a few images focusing on the sunrises first impact I move around a bit to get a few different angles and make the most of the situation. Eventually the valley has become a full sheet of white fluffy cotton like mist that completely obscurers the view below and makes for an interesting photograph.
After the light becomes too harsh here and capturing enough images to be happy with its time to head back down towards the main canyon. On the drive down into the canyon the view is entirely different has the sun is beginning to break through the mist. The light creeps through at angles and it starts to illuminate different areas amongst the cliffs giving the mist/fog a glow and highlighting various areas amongst the steep red walled landscape.
After the sun warms the air enough to dissipate the fog from the environment it is time for a trip through the main canyon. In winter you have the opportunity to actually drive the main road through and not rely on the shuttle bus. It is a good time to take advantage of this opportunity to drive the main road has it is nice to scout out the area for some potential imagery for future journeys. Noticing that the light is still filling in here I take a stroll along the river and look for some possibilities for reflective light shining in the water. After a short hike of not having much luck when noticing in the distance a bare cottonwood tree is being accented by some side light against a dark canyon wall, this makes for an image I really end up enjoying.
After the sun became too harsh it is a good time to head down into town to regroup, eat and make plans for the remainder of the day. Once in town I check the weather and see that it is going to be even colder tonight and windier. Out of curiosity and knowing there is an abundance of hotels here theres a chance for some good offseason deals and sure enough there is a room for the night with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express for $30 more than the campground. In need of a shower and in the back of mind knowing I have a flight tomorrow consider myself sold and book the room.
In the afternoon once getting squared away its off to explore some of my favorite areas of the park, the east side canyons. First up is the many pools trail, in the past I’ve tired to find this trail and didn’t have any luck this time thanks to the usage of apps I was able find the trail. There is a chance of finding some cool reflective light in some of the water pools so this is where the intention lies. After hiking for about 45 minutes on this really cool trail there is not much in the way of the oil slick reflections I’m looking for but there is some really nice views and daytime compositions here that make for a few fun images.
Eventually deciding to make a move back to the car as there is one other canyon trail I’m looking to explore before the sun fades for the day. After about thirty minutes into the hike there is an eventual point where theres a pretty good sized cliff like rock to scale, with my camera gear and time constraints turning back is the wiser option and just make mental notes for my return trip here in the fall.
Once driving back down towards the main part of the park the sun is beginning to set and as it does the rocky cliffs take on a nice glow after absorbing the suns heat all day. There is no clouds in the sky so instead of focusing on a sunset photograph it is a better option to focus on the aspects of the cliffs glowing in the light. Eventually making it back to where I started the day at the Human History Museum and the last image of the day is of the rock wall of The Watchman, it was a good day in Zion National Park.