After visiting Gulfoss we drove west back towards Reykjavik and stopped for a quick walk to Öxarárfoss, a waterfall in Þingvellir National Park. The falls cascade over basalt cliffs into the fault line/ravine along the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that separates the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. As a geoscientist and a photographer, this location was particularly exciting to visit for me. I clearly wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the falls- I ‘had to’ sit and just enjoy the view while waiting for a group of photographers to move on to their next stop before I could shoot panoramas of the falls from a variety of angles without interruption.
Öxarárfoss and Rocks, Þingvellir National Park, Iceland (18″x44″)
After photographing Gulfoss from below, I walked up the stairs and out onto the plateau above the canyon to photograph the river as it enters the falls.
Gulfoss Plateau, southwest Iceland (18″x58″)
We scrambled and boulder-hopped onto a small ridge above camp to watch the sun set over the Rincon Mountains. Rock Prow at Sunset, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
A texture-focused photograph of the exfoliating bedrock and clouds east of Rincon Peak in southeastern Arizona.
Exfoliations and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
Just east of the Rincon Mountains and Mescal Road (Forest Road 35), a second, shorter series of hills pokes up from the desert floor. From a satellite view, I could see waves of rock with nearly parallel fissures running NW-SE through the hills. Sediment is draped over parts of the exposed bedrock like a blanket. This spring, we camped near a stream bed and spent the day exploring the landscape of shattered rock and high desert grass and cacti. I took a series of photographs of the exfoliating bedrock that appears as if it is shedding its old skin.
Exfoliating Rock Slab, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x50″)
Exfoliating Rock and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x37″)
The rain stopped and many of the clouds started to clear off by sunset, so I climbed out of my tent, grabbed my camera and tripod, and rest stepped my way up the hill above camp to photograph the landscape as the sun descended over the ridge the west. I think the panorama with the rock in the foreground was one of my most successful photographs on the trip (first panorama). Although I don’t usually include my own image in my photographs, I also liked the way my shadow falls across the hillside opposite the setting sun (second panorama).
Rock Shadow at Sunset over the Lake, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x44″)
Rising Shadows and Retreating Clouds at Sunset, near Jumla, Nepal (16″x60″)
More panoramas of our campsite from our two days coring lakes in the cloud forest in the Himalayan foothills. After dinner, I liked to sit and watch the clouds lift and lower over the cliffs in the distance (second panorama).
Ponds and Trees in the Cloud Forest Camp, far western Nepal (16″x72″)
Thornbush Wall and Cloud-Draped Cliffs in the Distance, far western Nepal (16″x50″)
I frequently drive between Tucson, AZ and Albuquerque, NM to visit family. While driving to Hatch from I-10, I always notice a lone water tower standing over the railroad tracks along Highway 26. Last summer I finally stopped to photograph the structure and the railroad tracks. An approaching monsoon storm had also kicked up a dust storm over the wind farm across the road.
Wind Farm and Haboob, near Hatch, NM (16″x52″)
Water Tower along Highway 26, near Hatch, NM (16″x32″)
Here are a few more panoramas taken around sunrise at 14,000+ feet in Colorado.
Ridge Line from Mt Lincoln, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x50″)
Ridge Shadows to Mt Democrat, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x70″)
Rising Sun over Mt Lincoln, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x64″)
After hiking up the flank of Mt Democrat, we turned to the east and headed towards Mt Lincoln to avoid the large crowds on the first peak. We followed the ridge to Mt Licoln, ate breakfast, then walked up the side of Mt Bross and down to Kite Lake. The mining equipment, pits, and trails are quite the spectacle at 14,000+ feet .
Mining Equipment, Trails, and Mount Democrat, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x67″)
Scree and Talus Field on Mt Bross, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x60″)
While working Boulder this July, I drove up to Kite Lake near Fairplay and Alma, CO. The camping areas near the lake were packed, so I hiked up a cirque along Buckskin Creek and set up camp near 12,500 feet in an isolated meadow. The cirque was relatively close to the parking area, but the steep hill blocked the view of the road and trails, so the area felt like the middle of the wilderness. The next morning, I slid out of my sleeping bag before sunrise to hike up a few peaks in the area- see future posts for peak panoramas.
Snow Field and Stream, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x54″)
Unnamed Crescent Lake, near Kite Lake, CO (16″x60″)
A few weeks ago, I hiked past Bluebird Lake (along the Wild Basin trail in Rocky Mountain National Park), scrambled up a scree field, and made my way along an old cirque above tree line just below Isolation Peak. The towering cliffs and exposed rocks are stunning when viewed up close. Looking down valley, I seemed to be standing above the clouds.
Unnamed Ridge, Cliffs, and Clouds, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (16″x42″)
Routes on the north and west faces of the rock promontory above the Prison Camp area make for great spring climbing along the Catalina Highway on Mt Lemmon. I especially liked the shadows of the passing clouds on the hills in the background.
Boot Hill Cliffs and Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x39″)
Here is a second series of photographs from my Milagrosa to Agua Caliente Canyon loop hike. I was amazed to see water flowing near the top of Agua Caliente (second photograph) even though we had received so little moisture for most of the winter.
Looking down Milagrosa Canyon, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (16″x33″)
Falls in Agua Caliente, Agua Caliente Canyon, AZ (12″x18″)
In March, I hiked up Milagrosa Canyon (I have posted climbing photographs from this canyon in the past). I exited the top of Milagrosa by scrambling up a series of stepped dry waterfalls. I then picked my way across a hill through the Sonoran Desert until I hit a trail that dropped back down into the head of Agua Caliente Canyon. After a brief swim at a lunch time pool, I boulder-hopped down Agua Caliente to where the two canyons join near the road. As I was sliding from boulder to boulder, countless thumb-sized, camouflaged desert toads hopped out of the way of my feet. Overall, the day was at least an 8/10 stars for fun- it felt rugged without ever being more than three hours from a trailhead.
Saguaro Cacti Marching into Milagrosa, Milagrosa Canyon, AZ (14″x16″)
Agua Caliente Pools, Agua Caliente Canyon, AZ (16″x42″)
Two hours north of Tucson along Arizona State Route 77, a small turnoff dumps you out onto a dirt road that winds up into the hilly desert. The southern Arizona climbing community has created a series of trails and low-impact camping sites so climbers can unobtrusively set up a tent and climb in the limestone canyon known as ‘The Homestead’. The limestone cracks and overhangs in this area are a fun alternative to climbing the granite and schist of Mt Lemmon.
Homestead Canyon Cliffs, Gila County, AZ (16″x54″)
Far off the Ground at Homestead Canyon, Gila County, AZ (16″x44″)
After hiking to Ventana Arch, we scrambled up the rock towers of Window Peak. The approach to the summit took a few hours; we had to ascend at least 4,500 feet from the trailhead to the peak, but the views were worth the walk. The hike down to Sabino Canyon was also gorgeous- a few rainclouds blew over and spat a few drops of water on us as we passed the last ridge near sunset.
Looking Down from Window Peak, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x57″)
Saguaro and Evening Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x36″)
Early in March, I hiked up the Ventana Canyon trail to Ventana Arch and back down through Sabino Canyon. Here are a few panoramas I took on the way up to the Arch.
Ventana Arch, Cliff, Hills, and Sky, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x53″)
Maiden Pools Rocks and Cacti, Ventana Canyon, AZ (16″x50″)
The vertical panorama can help give a sense of scale from the base of a cliff, but the perspective inherent in this type of panorama can also distort the image. As I’ve been working on my climbing photography, I have tried a few techniques that I would normally never employ in my landscape work; here I wanted to emphasize the artificial, human aspect that we bring to a traditional (‘trad’) climbing route even if we remove all the gear when we’re finished.
On Lead up Turret Rock, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x42″)
Some 2,000 climbing routes line the Catalina Highway (the 2-lane road leading to the top of Mt Lemmon outside Tucson, AZ). This year, my goal has been to try a new climbing area every weekend; back in February, I hiked up the steep wash around Milepost 10 to the Chessman cliffs. Circling birds of prey, ravens, and canyon wrens surrounded us all day. I took this vertical panorama of the spectacular 5.11-, Two Kings and a Pawn, as one of my friends was leading it.
Sending Two Kings and a Pawn, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x36″)
After reaching the top of Elephant Head, I stepped over to the west face of the rock and took a panorama of the fingers of eroded ridges and washes fading into the distance. On the hike down the backbone, I stopped to take a vertical panorama of the ridge leading up to Mount Wrightson, the tallest peak in southern Arizona.
Grass, Rocks, Clouds, and Erosion, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x45″)
Ridge to Wrightson from Elephant Head, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x30″)
Elephant Head is a promontory of rock that juts out to the west of the Santa Rita Mountain Range in southern Arizona. Late this winter, I finally decided to hike up the back of the ridge to the top of the fin of rock. Although this is the least technical of the approaches, it was still a fourth class scramble for the last bit of the walk. The views of the high desert foothills and cliffs along the way are spectacular.
Yucca and Trail to Elephant Head, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x53″)
Eroded Cliffs and Fins from Elephant Head, Coronado National Forest, AZ (12″x18″)
The southwest-facing cliff at The Ruins crag provides a great location for a pleasant day of winter climbing in southern Arizona. I wanted to capture the full size of the rock face, a little foreground at the base, and the mountains fading into the distance off to the south (right), so I ended up stitching together a series of stacked photographs for this double-tall panorama.
The Ruins Cliff, Coronado National Forest, AZ (20″x40″)
Winter rain and snow on Mt Lemmon brought enough moisture to the Sonoran Desert to make this usually dry stream bed in Hairpin Canyon fill with water. On this particular day, I didn’t expect to take many photographs (I was out to climb), so I didn’t have my tripod in my backpack. I used a rock instead (bottom photograph) and managed to take a long(er) exposure set of photographs for the panorama using image stabilization (basically a gyroscope in the lens)- it’s amazing how well this relatively new technology works in a pinch (but I still wish I had my tripod!).
Falls and Cliffs at Hairpin Canyon, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x47″)
Falls, Log, and Sky at Hairpin, Coronado National Forest, AZ (12″x18″)