Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Red Rock Canyon

This morning I went for a hike in Red Rock Canyon with my friend Claudia, who is at the tail end of several weeks in town to deal for the World Series of Poker. We chose the trail to "Ice Box Canyon." We didn't get all the way to the end. We're both old farts and I, for one, am hardly in tiptop physical condition. Young whippersnappers were passing us as if we were standing still. Which, admittedly, we were quite a bit. Gotta rest a lot when you're decrepit. The roughly four miles we trekked was plenty, especially since at least a third of the distance was climbing over rocks rather than flat hiking in the usual Boy Scout sense. In fact, Claudia certified me as having done at least a week's worth of exercise, giving me permission to vegetate for the next seven days. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

There simply does not exist nicer weather in Vegas in July than we hit today, and if there is more spectacular scenery anywhere within an hour of the city, I don't know what it could possibly be. We chose well.

I'm afraid I may have annoyed her with my frequent stops to take pictures. I was captivated by both the grand vistas and the small details. But I was simultaneously frustrated in advance, knowing that nobody short of Ansel Adams could do justice to the beauty surrounding us. Well, I tried.

We saw lots of lizards. I kinda like lizards. I think they're cute. Most were smaller than this sunbather. (For all photos, click to see somewhat bigger. Right click and select "open link in new tab" for the full-size shot.)

When I saw this shrub, I thought it was one of a kind. It's hard to tell what's happening, but it looks like the dead part of the plant sort of erupted out of the skin of the living part. I had never seen anything like it. But a short distance later, there was another just like it, then another and another. We passed dozens of them, all looking like the careful branch-by-branch fusion of a living brush and its dead predecessor. If anybody understands this odd botanical phenomenon, please enlighten me.

I think this is my favorite shot of the bunch. I looked back at one point and saw this lone, dead tree standing out in contrast to the sky and mountain ridge behind, and it bowled me over with its stark beauty. I had to leave Claudia for a few minutes and backtrack to find the best vantage point to capture it. I guess you could say I experienced an aesthetic emergency that could be addressed only by pressing a shutter release a few times. I'm afraid the result isn't as grand as what my visual cortex recorded. You'll just have to go find the spot yourself to see what I mean.

I think I was even less successful here. Maybe I'm weird to think that dead trees are lovely, but I do. The charring of this one, and the strange geometry created when it fell over, made it even more so, in my view. But again I don't think I managed to convey that adequately in the final shot. I was going for a 3-D-ish effect, with the near end of the tree coming right into the viewer's face. It seemed cool at the time, but when I see it on my computer screen--eh, not so much.

Your humble scribe:

And his lovely companion for the day:

And now this blog is pleased to present to you an assortment of the pretty rocks and mountains we saw, without further comment:


Anonymous said...

the shrub with red and white bark is one of the plants known as manzanita. part of the branch dies then the bark falls off and the branch is bleached white and smooth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manzanita

Rakewell said...

Thank you. That is obviously it, all right.

Anonymous said...

Manzanita means 'little apple' in spanish after the small red seed pods they develop. The early settlers found the wood burned so hot it would melt their cast iron stoves.

Awsome pics. My buddy was raised in Vegas and remembers going to Red Rock canyon on his little motorcycle in the mid 60's.

Pete P. Peters said...

I'm gonna be out again in two weeks with a few fiends and have always wanted to hike redrock. Is it typicaly tolerable with the heat? Or did you go real, real early?

Herb said...

Beautiful shots. Were all those taken with your camera phone? I admire your eye for composition.

I would love to get out there someday and take some pictures as well.

Rakewell said...

PPP: We were hiking from roughly 9 a.m. to noon. It was around 90 degrees at the end, which is a relatively cool day for July. At least on this trail, there was virtually no shade, so it could be brutal under less favorable conditions.

Herb: Thank you. All were taken with my little Nikon point-and-shoot camera, specifically a Coolpix S630 I bought about 3 years ago.

sevencard2003 said...

claudia tried to convince me to come along, were i not so dead tired without sleep, and my fear of snakes, id have came along because most of my readers agree id needed the exercise and it wouldve been good to get away from the tables. but id only had 2 hours sleep.

Memphis MOJO said...

I enjoyed the photos - thanks for sharing.