Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 2013 Remembered – Magic Of A Winter Morning

In these closing days of 2013 we have finally (!) arrived at post number twelve in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – to post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, rocks, birds, trains, bench marks and early morning skies I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

December morning magic

Monday, December 30, 2013

November 2013 Remembered – Road Running Close To Home

In these closing days of 2013 we have arrived at post number eleven in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – to post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013.

Not everything posted in these “Twelve months in thirteen days” has been written about previously on Watching For Rocks or even has that much to do with rocks. In fact, some of it has flown below the blog radar altogether – that is, if it has even flown at all. 

First spotted this guy cresting a hill behind my house


Sunday, December 29, 2013

October 2013 Remembered – Swinging A Cat In Zion And Bryce

In these last days of 2013 we have arrived at post number ten in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – to post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

You can swing a cat from my backyard in southern Utah and it will hit the ground running in some pretty spectacular landscape. This past October I drove over to Zion and Bryce National Parks for some hiking and some sightseeing.  I live here.  This is what I do for fun.

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Grotto Picnic area

Saturday, December 28, 2013

September 2013 Remembered – The Bristlecone Pines of Cedar Breaks

In these final days of 2013 we have come to post number nine in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – to post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013.

If I had to vote for one tree to be considered a symbol of Cedar Breaks National Monument, it would be the Great Basin bristlecone pine. In the crumbling limestone and dolomite cliffs at the edge of an eroding natural amphitheater, these trees not only survive but thrive in their barren windswept environment.

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Bristlecone pines at Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah


Friday, December 27, 2013

August 2013 Remembered – Pelican Valley

In the waning days of 2013 we have come to post number eight in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

Among the many trails in Yellowstone, Pelican Valley has a reputation as major grizzly bear territory. 

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Pelican Valley trail head and its many postings


Thursday, December 26, 2013

July 2013 Remembered – Life And Death In Yellowstone

We have come to post number seven in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I have always wanted to do this – post a remembrance once each day at the end of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013.

As a seasonal interpretive ranger in Yellowstone I get asked a lot of questions by visitors.

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A female elk grazes in West Thumb Geyser Basin


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

June 2013 Remembered – Birds On A Mission

We have come to post number six in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I’ve always wanted to do this. The time is now! This means a post each day for the rest of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

And birds. Don’t forget the birds.
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A white pelican feeds at Little Thumb Creek on Yellowstone Lake

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

May 2013 Remembered – Back To Yellowstone

We have come to post number five in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” I’ve always wanted to do this. The time is now! This means a post each day for the rest of the year, for each month of this year, remembering people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

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An abandoned homestead stands silently in the refuge


Monday, December 23, 2013

April 2013 Remembered – Another Roadside Attraction

We have come to post number four in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.”

I’ve always wanted to do this. The time is now! This means one post each day for the rest of the year of people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

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Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona

Sunday, December 22, 2013

March 2013 Remembered – Surveying Broken Mesa

Here is post number three in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” 

I have always wanted to do this. The time is now! This means posting at least one image each day for the rest of the year of people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in each month of 2013. 

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These happy hikers sure asked a lot of questions!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

February 2013 Remembered – Beaver Dam Mountains

We have come to post number two in my series “Twelve months in thirteen days.” 

I’ve always wanted to do this. The time is now! This means posting at least one image each day for the rest of the year of people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. 

View west into Nevada and the Great Basin


Friday, December 20, 2013

January 2013 Remembered – Chinle Trail, Zion National Park

I’ve always wanted to do this. The time is now! 

This means posting at least one image each day for the rest of the year of people, places, and rocks I have gotten to know better in 2013. Twelve months in thirteen days – there is no telling what will post on that thirteenth day!

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The Chinle Trail can be found in the southwest corner of Zion National Park

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Still Pondering The Virgin River Gorge

Lately I’ve been poking around the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, pondering the rocks and trying to figure things out in the Virgin River Gorge. 

Sedimentary rocks of the Virgin River Gorge


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Virgin River Gorge

To many people the phrase “interstate highway” conjures up all sorts of negative images and descriptions, mostly having to do with getting from Point A to Point B in as little time as possible. To these folks I have only one thing to say. You might want to consider spending some time along interstate 15 through the Virgin River Gorge. 

Sedimentary rocks of the Virgin River Gorge in NW Arizona


Friday, November 22, 2013

What’s The Deal With Columnar Jointing?

Rocks certainly come in a lot of unique shapes and sizes, and one of the most intriguing rocks of all is basalt that displays “columnar jointing.” And one of the most common questions asked about these distinctively–shaped edifices is “How in the heck did this happen?” 

Columnar jointing in basalt, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Sediments Exactly – Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks

Amid all the rocks eroding off the top of the Paunsagunt and Markagunt Plateaus in southern Utah you will find those of colorful Lake Claron. It is not just any old lake, however. This one happens to be around 50 million years old. 

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Brilliantly hued lake bed sediments of Bryce Canyon National Park
 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Late October Zion

Offered today is a photo journal, images taken during a moment of blissful quiet in Zion National Park late last month. I often volunteer with the park’s educational outreach program during the school year, and I was waiting for my next group of seventh graders to explode down the trail to the habitat station. 

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bad Video And An American Dipper

I try, I really do try. But it seems that, right now, some things are just beyond my feeble attempts at perfection. In my last post I wrote about Cedar Breaks. I had every intention (and still do – really!) to follow up with a post about its sedimentary cousin Bryce Canyon. But in the meantime I toodled off to Zion for a bit of bird watching along the Virgin River with my birding and biking buddy LucyO. 

LucyO looks for anything avian along the Virgin River

Friday, October 18, 2013

Standing At The Edge – Cedar Breaks National Monument

High on the tilted western edge of the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah lays a hidden gem of the National Park system. A tiny park as western parks go, Cedar Breaks National Monument is often overshadowed by the more famous Bryce Canyon to the east. Both parks can be found in what is called the High Plateaus transition zone between the Basin & Range province to the west and the Colorado Plateau province to the east. Both parks share a similar geologic history with dramatic exposures of 50–million–year–old lake bed and river sediments. Both parks are eroding into natural amphitheaters that display fantastically shaped chimneys, hoodoos, pinnacles, turrets, towers, cliffs, and fins in every brilliant rainbow shade of red, pink, purple, orange, gray, tan, and white. 

Cedar Breaks National Monument


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Geyser Gazing – Riverside Geyser Rainbow

I’m back in southern Utah now, and my third Yellowstone summer is a rapidly fading memory. The high elevation hot springs of one of the world’s largest active volcanoes have been replaced by a delicately sculpted red rock desert landscape. I can’t help but think back, though, on that last weekend in the Park. 

Sawmill Geyser


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Geyser Gazing – Daisy Does Its Thing

Well – Castle certainly was an impressive 20 minutes, and we didn’t even know it was going to erupt!
 
Fellow geysergazers CW and I were on a mission (check it out here and here) to see as many predictable geysers as we could during my last weekend in Yellowstone. Daisy! Riverside! Grand! Here we come!
 
Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Geyser Gazing – Castle Geyser Erupting

During my last weekend in Yellowstone I stumbled upon one of less than a dozen geysers in the Park that erupts predictably. As fellow geyser–gazers CW and I were on our way to somewhere else we were lucky to glimpse Castle Geyser in all its boiling, steaming action (you can read all about that fortuitous event here).




Sunday, September 1, 2013

Geyser Gazing – Castle Geyser Unexpectedly

As a final finale to my third summer spent living and working in Yellowstone I decided to spend one day doing a bit of serious geyser gazing.

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We unexpectedly happened upon Castle Geyser as it was erupting

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Steamboat Geyser Erupts!

One day last week the most amazing thing occurred in Yellowstone. A geyser erupted. This wasn’t just any old geyser, even though these things are blowing off water and steam all the time around here. It’s what Yellowstone is famous for. Only about a half dozen are predictable, and of these only Old Faithful reaches heights of up to 120 feet. Rain or shine, night and day, predictable Old Faithful goes off about every 90 minutes. 

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Steamboat Geyser in steam phase, August 2, 2013


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cruising Yellowstone Lake

Here are several facts you might be interested in knowing about Yellowstone Lake:
It has the largest surface area of any lake in North America above 7000 feet.
It has 141 miles of shoreline.
It has leeches living in it. 

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Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Psychotic Lewis River

About ten miles south of Grant Village in Yellowstone you can find the Lewis River, in my opinion one of the more psychotic rivers in the park. 

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Lewis River below the falls

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Trail Of The Unknown Destination

I went out last week to celebrate my birthday, thinking I would be enjoying a hike along a canyon that promised a whopping 40 feet of elevation gain. 

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Trail to Flagg Canyon and...well, wherever we went.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Faithful Lone Star Geyser Friends

I really enjoy having friends visit me up here in the Yellowstone wilds of northwest Wyoming. Some folks tell me months in advance of their plans to come to the Park during the summer. Others contact me out of the blue and announce “Hey! We’re here! When are your days off?” 

Hey!  We're here!

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Tale Of A Bobbling Badger

That’s not a baby goose – that’s a badger!
 
Get out the binoculars! Get out the binoculars!
 
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Drama unfolds on the Yellowstone River!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stay On The Boardwalk!

I don’t know about you, but I am totally astounded whenever I see anyone step off the boardwalk at Yellowstone’s hot springs. As a summer seasonal park ranger I see this behavior all the time and can’t help but wonder. What are these folks thinking? 

Last week I came across a perfect example of why it is best not to consider doing anything so foolish. 

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Good Godfrey!  Collapsed travertine at Mammoth Hot Springs

Friday, May 17, 2013

Taking My Time

Whenever I travel I want to allow myself the gift of time. What might take three hours takes me six. What might take two days takes me five. There is so much to see along the way, so much scenery and history to absorb in this beautiful country of ours, that it would be a shame to pass it all by with the unrelenting goal of merely getting from point A to point B. 

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Bear Lake Valley

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Little Park With Big Views

If you blink, you might miss it, it’s that little. In fact, even if you don’t blink you could easily drive right past it. 

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Beaver buddies on the quartz monzonite boulder indicate the path to big views

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tracking The Desert Tortoise

Living in southern Utah and hiking a lot of landscape over the past 20 years, you would think that I’d have seen at least one desert tortoise stroll past my boots. Sadly this has not been the case. The Mojave desert tortoise spends 95% of its life underground. It all comes down to chance, and whether you are looking in the right place at the right time. 

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It did not appear that anyone was home


Monday, April 8, 2013

Sequestering The Seasonals

I love my job as a summer seasonal ranger in Yellowstone, our nation’s first national park, the undisputed Mother Ship of the US park system. I’m ready to go back to work with my summer friends, ready to drive through some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth from my winter desert home in southwestern Utah to my summer high–country home in northwestern Wyoming.

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Absaroka Range from Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone National Park

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Old Is This Rock?

Whenever I go hiking with a group of friends everyone expects me to know everything about every rock we see. “Hey, you’re the geologist!” they all say. “Well, yeah, but…” I hedge, diffidently twirling my booted toe in the sand. 

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These folks can sure ask a lot of questions!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zooming Into Springtime

It’s been a quiet winter here in southern Utah, which is not at all a bad thing. Much as I would have liked to, I didn’t jet off to Iceland to view the northern lights. I didn’t hop a plane to South America to visit the ruins of Machu Picchu. For that matter I haven’t even (yet!) driven up to Salt Lake City to visit my nephew and see the mummy exhibit at the Leonardo. 

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desert marigold


Saturday, February 23, 2013

What’s Flyin’ In Zion?

It’s barely nine o’clock on this mid–February morning in Zion National Park. Not much wildlife is out and about yet at this chilly hour (although we did pass the resident wild turkey inhabitants as they busily pecked for their breakfast in a clearing).

Weeping Rock trailhead with river access


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Loving Life In The Beaver Dam Mountains

It’s never too late to catch up, is it? And if there is anyone who should know this, that anyone would be me. It’s been a month since my last post! It would be no surprise if people thought I’d fallen off the edge of some cliff. 

Hiking my favorite mountains


Monday, January 14, 2013

Answering A Geologic Doorbell

Southern Utah displays some of the world’s most spectacularly in–your–face geology. It is so in your face and on display that it could practically ring your doorbell, invite itself in, pour itself something to drink, and stand in your kitchen with the refrigerator door open while looking for a snack. 

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View eastward across Harrisburg Dome


Monday, January 7, 2013

A Day In The Life

The Chinle trail in Zion National Park is a fine place to while away an early January Sunday afternoon. 

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Mt Kinesava towers above the Chinle trail