Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, in Utah, is stunningly beautiful; especially at sunrise and sunset. It should be on your bucket list. You can enjoy it any time of day but, I recommend being there in the morning, before the sun creeps over the distant mountains and as the sun sets in the evening. The colors saturate, the whites appear almost translucent at hose times and it will take your breath away. If you can, walk the trails that take you below the base and look at the hoodoos face on.

As I looked over the landscape, my thoughts turned to the ancient cities from fantasy and action adventures. Perhaps drawing from Petra in southern Jordan. I can imagine temples and palaces constructed from the hoodoos. I see “impregnable” walls being breached by the barbarians outside. It’s a fun connection.

For me, the process of how the land became to look as it does, enhances its beauty. In this case, water channels away the softer soil, forming the hoodoos. The freeze-thaw cycle sculpts the hoodoos by breaking off chunks. The wind helps sculpt too, but, to a lesser degree. What is left are acres of an orange and cream landscape filled with spectacular hoodoos and the erosional hills and valleys at their base.

I can’t wait to go back. Only this time, I am going to allow a day to hike and see what other treasures I uncover. I wonder what it would like in snow.

Note: Please click on caption to see higher resolution images.

These and other images are available to purchase at my website www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

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Yellowstone Wildlife

Yellowstone is known as much for its wildlife as its great geologic features. North America’s apex predators, the wolf, grizzly bear and the mountain lion all roam Yellowstone’s wild lands along side the bison, elk, moose, deer and other prey species. Sadly, many of the species we had hoped to see didn’t show and a few were too far away to get a good picture. But we did see some and what we saw was amazing.

In this post, you’ll see the pica, a relative of the rabbit that lives in higher altitude rock fields. You’ll see the pronghorn which is related to but is not an antelope and the mountain goat which is not a goat but, an antelope. Finally, the American Dipper; the only North American song bird that feeds underwater in stream beds.

The Swainson’s hawks we taken not far outside of Idaho Falls, ID on the last leg of our journey to Yellowstone.

I hope you enjoy these images.

Regards,

Larry

Note: Please click on caption to see higher resolution image.

 

Note: These and other images are available to purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us.

Geysers, Hot Springs and Mudpots

Yellowstone is full of hydro-thermal (Hot Water) features; features created when groundwater is heated by Yellowstone’s magma chamber and pushed up to the surface. The geyser, Old Faithful, is the iconic feature of Yellowstone. But that is just one of many. Near Old Faithful is the Grand Prismatic Spring and Morning Glory Pool; 2 famous hot springs. The travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs are constantly under creation as the underlying hot spring bubbles up through a deposit of limestone. The Mud Volcano area has its bubbling mudpots and hot springs. Fumaroles that vent only steam abound.

The interesting thing is that all these features work the same way. A hot spring has a crack or “pipe” that travels underground to the surface. As water is heated, it expands and gets pushed upward. If the pipe has a constriction, it slows the water’s upward movement until enough pressure builds so that the water explodes out of the ground as a geyser. If there is no constriction, the water runs continuously.  If there is a depression, the water creates a pool. If the hot spring doesn’t have a lot of water, it soaks the ground instead of forming a pool. If there is just enough water, it creates pool of bubbling mud. If the amount of water is very small, it forms a fumarole and vents only steam.

Hot springs encourage the growth of bacteria and algae that form mats on the beds of their pools and streams. These mats come in array of colors that make these springs breathtakingly beautiful. Mammoth Hot Springs, whose water flows through limestone, deposits calcium carbonate as the water evaporates forming huge terraces of travertine. In some parts, chemical impurities stain the terraces with beautiful color.

These hydro-thermal features of Yellowstone are a wonder to behold.

Note: Click on caption to see higher resolution image.

These and oter images are available at my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us.

A Day at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Commonly known as the Okefenokee Swamp, it is located near Folkston, GA – near the Georgia-Florida border. Though most people consider it a swamp, it is really a peat bog. A bog is a wetland underlain with peat, dead plant material that forms a woody, brown, fibrous blanket. Most of us know it from the peat moss we buy in garden stores. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife that live among the forest of balled cypress trees covered with Spanish Moss and the prairie, a tannin rich pond whose dark brown water is covered by water lilies and other plants.
The Okefenokee is not fed by any river or stream. It is a natural basin that is filled by rainfall on the pond and runoff from the surrounding terrain. Though it is only fed by rainwater, the pond maintains an average depth of 2 – 2 ½ feet of water. Twenty Five percent of its water drains to the Atlantic Ocean via the St Mary’s River. The remaining 75% drains to the Gulf of Mexico via the Suwanee River of “Way Down Upon the Suwanee River” fame.
During the late 1800’s it was heavily logged for its rot resistant cypress wood. The main canal through the swamp was an attempt to drain the bog to the east for purposes of transporting lumber. The canal was dug by hand but was not completed because it wasn’t deemed possible to dig through the natural berm on the east side of the basin.
Native Americans occupied the area surrounding the swamp between 500AD and 1840 when the Seminole tribe was driven off. There is record of Spanish settlement between 1625 and 1640. In 1937, the federal government purchased the Okefenokee and created the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge. The facilities were first developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1937 and 1941.

Note: Click on caption to see image at larger size and higher resolution.

 

 

Note: These and other images are available for purchase at my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us