The first photo I'm posting here is of Waterholes Canyon, a slot canyon near Page, Arizona. A friend of mine and I had planned a trip to southern Utah and northern Arizona to see the beautiful landscapes there and to see an annular eclipse of the sun (the sun would form a ring around the disc of the moon) in May of 2012. While researching for the trip, I discovered that there were numerous slot canyons in the area. Slot canyons are very narrow gorges formed by water eroding through rock. These canyons can be very beautiful, as sunlight can strike the walls and bring out exquisite details and sublime shades of color. After seeing numerous photos of the slot canyons in the area, my friend and I made it a goal to visit one when we were there.
Additional research showed that most slot canyons in the area required a 4x4 vehicle or a long hike to reach-- usually both. Due to our time constraints and budget, we needed a slot canyon that could be reached using a standard vehicle and a fairly easy hike. One of the most popular ones in the area is Antelope Canyon. Visiting Antelope Canyon would require signing up with a tour group. Not only did we not want to spend the money for a tour group, but we were concerned that going on a tour would limit us because of time allowances and other people possibly standing in our photos. I did some further research and discovered that Waterholes Canyon would match our needs.
But the visit to the canyon almost didn't happen! We had planned to see the canyon in the afternoon of May 20, a few hours before the eclipse. But that was assuming that we had found a location suitable for viewing and photographing the eclipse by noon. By the afternoon of the eclipse, we had not found a location that matched our needs-- even though we had visited several places! So we had to skip the canyon. We eventually found a great location to view and photograph the eclipse. After the celestial show, we drove to our campground near the north rim of the Grand Canyon and got some sleep. The next day, after seeing the sunrise from the Grand Canyon, we had a decision to make: drive the 3 hours to the northwest that it would take to reach Zion National Park (where we had reservations for that night) or drive 3 hours in the opposite direction to the Page area to visit the canyon, then drive an additional 2 hours back to the west to reach Zion park. We weren't even sure that we would make it to the canyon, because it would require getting a pass from a Navajo Indian field office that we weren't certain would be open!
The photos that I had seen of slot canyons proved too tempting: we would take the gamble. We drove to Page, ate lunch, and went to obtain the passes from the field office. Fortunately, we arrived at the office to find it open! We paid the fee, got directions to the canyon, and were on our way. We drove south on the highway to the parking lot at the head of the trail for the canyon. We started walking the trail, which led over flat desert and past rock formations. After hiking for a little over a mile, we reached the mouth of the canyon. The space between the canyon walls narrowed as we explored further. At some points, I could stretch my arms out and touch both sides of the canyon! The walls reached dozens of feet into the air above us. It was a surreal location-- made for exploring. I took photos and video at several locations in the canyon.
This photo is my favorite from that series. I like how the path leads the viewer into the canyon, encouraging further exploration. I also like the striations in the rock walls- it's fascinating to imagine the power that fast-flowing water can have to be able to carve through solid Earth like that. I also like the subtle shades of color. Red and orange dominate in this photo, but there are subtle shades of blue and purple to be seen as well. I'm very glad that I took the time to step away from my camera in this fascinating place to notice the subtle beauty there.