Utah 2010-08






 Two Weeks in Utah


August 2010

High Uintas Wilderness Area

and the Wasatch Mountains



 Click here for past trip essays.

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Pass Lake Sunset,

Uinta Mountains



I'd like to tell you that this scene can only be gained via an intense three day backpack up thousands of feet along a treacherous trail in a hostile environment teeming with mountain alligators (yes, there is such a thing... look it up) but that would be stretching the truth just a wee bit.  Truthfully, 15 feet behind where I am standing is a guardrail.   And 100 feet beyond that is my car.  On a paved road.


Across the valley is the main Hayden Peak - Mt Agassiz ridgeline that marks the beginning of the High Uintas Wilderness Area, 600+ square miles of officially-designated wilderness.









A Glowing Mt Timpanogos,

Wasatch Mountains



In the summer there are only two times of the day that can yield quality landscape photographs - morning and evening.  That's it.  The rest of the day is literally craps-ville (this is a real word, look it up).  Let me stress that by morning I mean early morning, more like what-in-the-heck-am-I-doing-out-here-I-really-should-still-be-in-bed-with-the-rest-of-the-sane-people early.  But then again, if I acted sane, I'd only have yet another picture of the dog doing something cute on a carpet that clearly shows it desperately needs a vacuuming... with a laundry basket in the background.


This was taken before 7am from a little turn-out on the Cascade Springs Road, a place the kids and I had scoped out the previous day.  Notice the faint rainbow at the far left.  I did not even see it there in person.









Hayden Peak Reflection,

Uinta Mountains



The flipside of early morning photography is... you guessed it... late evening photography.  In the summer there is perhaps an hour at most of decent light each in the morning and evening and if you miss it, well, there is always the next day.  Which means ya gotta get up early and stay late.


This image of Hayden Peak was taken on Ruth Lake, a short 20-25 minute hike off of the Mirror Lake Highway.  This lake offers up perhaps the best "exhaustion-to-beauty" quotient in the range... it is almost zero*.


The whole family went on this hiking trip... even my wife Kim who braved the mountain roads to bond with the kids and me.  Kim left the lake before the rest of us so she had a well lit trail to get back to the car.  The kids and I got back to the car in the dark but it was worth  it.


* ETB = f(exhaustion, beauty),

where the unit is Kcal burned / the "oh my" factor

ETB = exhaustion / beauty, where exhaustion is minimal and beauty is massive

ETB = 15.332 / 1,000,000,000

therefore, ETB is very low... like I said.









Mt Timpanogos in the Morning,

Wasatch Mountains



Most times where you need to be for the shot is not necessarily right out the front door.  Sometimes it is 1,300 miles away.  Other times it is exactly 68 minutes away.  Which means, yep, gettin' up early.


Let's see... sunrise at ~6:50am, must be setup for pre-sunrise about 45 minutes before sunrise, over an hour drive, carry the two... yeah, up before 5am.  I tried to tell myself it was no big deal because I had gained an hour from the time zone change.  I tried to be gullible but it didn't work which is why I slept for three hours when I got home.









Hayden Peak and Wildflowers,

Uinta Mountains



I really thought I could  airbrush my son Wade out of this picture.  Which was incorrect.  But now I am glad I did not choose to do so even though this image did not make it onto my main website.  Why?  Because I just re-affirmed my pledge to keep my images unaltered - to not remove or add anything that was not there to begin with.  Now, if I could just figure out how to remove Wade from the Xbox...









Alpenglow on Mt Agassiz,

Pass Lake, Uinta Mountains



If you have been paying attention, you'll have noticed that this image was taken just before the first image on this page.  And if you are really paying attention you'll notice a problem with it that caused me not to add it to my Mountain Gallery.


Hint --> it may or may not have something to do with combining multiple images to compress the dynamic range.  And no, I am not telling you!









Eastern Slopes of Box Elder Peak,

Wasatch Mountains



At least half of our trip was humid (yes, humidity in Utah does occur but only when we visit), with many clouds and even rain occasionally.  Here, in American Fork Canyon though, the heavy air departed for a day to yield the clearest and crispest light of our vacation.


Looking northwest, here are two sub peaks of Box Elder Peak.  These sub-peaks rise about 3,200 feet from the bottom of the picture but the main peak, off-frame to the right, is another 1,000 higher.









Provo and Cascade Peaks,

Wasatch Mountains



Yep... another one of those don't-wake-the-family-when-leaving-so-!!#@%#-early sessions.  Actually, the nice thing about this is that I can do what I love doing (mountain photography... duh) and not interrupt "family time".  This of course is easily possible when I get back to my parent's house at 9am and no one is even up yet.









Star Trails over Notch Pass,

Uinta Mountains



And I leave you with an example of a mistake, a glaring problem after hours of planning... essentially, of what not to do although I have no idea how it happened.  Truthfully, I was hoping for fame and fortune (well, fortune mostly) for finding the missing link or at best a phenomena that could explain disco but alas, this was not to be the case.


Star trails are supposed to be smooth but mine are kinked.  Apparently, according my astrophysicist friend in Boulder, CO (yes, I have a friend and yes he is in the astrophysics field) , the kink is most likely the result of the tripod moving or being bumped in some way during the 75 minute exposure... which could be referred to as "user error"... which is a kind way of saying "I $#%@'ed up".  I am still hoping that an earthquake caused it.


But remember, there is always next time.









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