Thursday, May 19, 2011

A trip to Canyonlands NP in pastel and photos

Curves Ahead
9x12 inches
pastel on black Strathmore
-from snapshot taken in the car on the road leading to CNP

Well, our planned three-day car camping trip to Canyonlands was cut short by a day and a half due to this intense pacific storm that is currently hitting the entire region.  We planned the trip last week starting with a perfect weather forecast, and as it got closer and closer to the date, the forecast continued to worsen to a "20% chance of rain on Tues night".  That ended up turning to a "100% chance of rain on early Tuesday morning" as we discovered waking up to the light patter of drizzling rain hitting our tent.  

I also got skunked for the 3rd month in a row with plans to shoot moonrise photos due to cloud cover.  A bummer, because watching the moonrise up over Canyonlands would have been almost magical.

However, we did get in a good solid day of hiking on Monday, having left Durango at 6:45 a.m. for the trip.  The primary reason for this was to procure a camping site within the park (sites go fast at this time of the year, and it's first-come, first-served).  We lucked out there, and it allowed us extra time to do our one and only hike on the trip.  

Destination hike:  Chesler Park, and center of the Needles District of the park.  Should you ever venture to Canyonlands and are an avid hiker, put this on your "to do" list.  The hike was incredibly scenic - one of our favorites.  The weather ranged from sunny and warm to overcast and chilly to downright windy.  

Wildflowers were in abundance, and small lizards of various species darted across the trail and rocks, occasionally posing long enough for a photo.  With regards to photography on these hikes, I've begun bringing both my general purpose zoom (18-70mm) and my telephoto (55-200mm) along allows the best range of photos.  I usually start with the telephoto and switch to the general zoom on the way back to get wide-angle landscape shots.  

Here are a handful of photos from the hike; I'll share some wildlife and floral photos in subsequent posts.

Along the Trail

Sandstone formations pano in black and white
4-part vertical oriented pano @55mm created with Double Take stitching software

Trail leading through a joint in the rock

Chesler Park panorama
5-part horizontally oriented pano @38mm
click on photo to see larger version with more detail

Wayne on the trail leading through Chesler Park with The Needles behind him

Trail leading to Devil's Kitchen, Cyclone Canyon and The Grabens
Colorized photo of a long fin of layered sandstone as the trail gets ready to drop off slickrock and into a canyon

Sandstone, pinyon and juniper against a cloud-filled sky along Elephant Hill Canyon 


  1. I think you had a great trip in spite of the weather foibles. The pastel is in the same great palette a s the riverside one, and you are on to something, here. I look forward to watching it develop in each new pastel.

    These are really fantastic photos, Sonya. I am going to show them to Lorie, who is the photographer in the family. Wow. I think the weather was a boon for the photos, really.

  2. Hi Casey - yes, we did have a great trip; it's hard to go wrong in a place like CNP :). I could easily spend a week there - half painting, half hiking.

    Thank you for the thoughtful comments about the painting and photos. I had planned for the painting to be a quick jaunt, but it turned out better than I anticipated. I'm glad you like the photos - for being hand-held and taken during what is generally considered the least favorable lighting conditions, they turned out well. The b&w pano and second from bottom will probably become prints at some point.

  3. These pictures are really making me want to take another trip out west!

    Sorry your trip got cut short, Sonya - but at least you got a good hike in! And some gorgeous photos. Really wonderful work - can't wait to see more ;-)

  4. Thanks, Debbie!

    I'm glad we got in the main hike we'd wanted - it was about 10 miles, so a good solid day. As is always the case, I can't wait to go back: southern Utah is magical country!

  5. Nice.

    I thought, when I read it at first, that you meant you literally got skunked. Miss Lemon and Mojito got skunked (simultaneously) last summer or the year before, I forget which.

  6. Jala - I think I remember you posting about the skunk incident. Ick. The smell is so oily and penetrating and nauseating. I've never had the misfortune of having an animal get sprayed and then come running inside the house like my sister and many other people have.


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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