Thursday, October 30, 2008
OK, I'm going to plug a tour business we used... Pat did some research of tour guides when she was setting up our slot canyon tour and had read some great things about her tours. We took it and it was great. Many of the slot canyon tours hit Upper Antelope canyon and call it a day, others have access to other specific canyons, but the access to the various canyons are typically controlled. Pat found Carol Bigthumb's Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. Her company has access to Upper Antelope canyon and two additional slot canyons that her family, which grew up on the property, controls.
The slot canyons we toured are fascinating. They're formed by flash floods rushing through sandstone washes. Upper Antelope is probably the most photographed slot canyon in the Page area, it's large and accessible and numerous tours came through it while we were there. It has a sandy bottom and is easy to walk through. The canyon is quite deep, and while light can get in through the entire canyon, it has wonderful effects as the bright spots and shadows play off the reddish sandstone walls. There are numerous spots where patters resemble various animals or people, in a shot below the light pattern resembles a candlestick and flame.
We did Upper Antelope canyon first, walking to the gulch at the back of the canyon, when you get outside, you'd almost not know the slot canyon existed if you're further than 50-80 feet away. We took a bit of a break to wait for the light to get more overhead to show off the color better before taking a slow trip back through to take a lot of pictures. Taking pictures in the canyons is pretty easy, despite the low light. You'll do best with a tripod, but most of the point and shoot digital cameras will do just fine if you rest it against a canyon wall as you take the photo to help keep the camera still. . I found most of my handheld shots did OK, but the ones with the tripods did slightly better. The shots in this post with solid looking walls and blurry people were probably running about a 1-6 second exposure using a tripod. People moving can almost look ghostly at a slow exposure.
After we finished we all moved on to a canyon Carol calls "Mountain Sheep Canyon". Her son Woody lead this trip. Mountain Sheep canyon is a long canyon, quite different than Upper Antelope in spots, and quite similar in others. Overall it is narrower, I've got a photo that shows one of the narrowest spots. It's definitely a bit more challenging than Upper Antelope, requiring a bit of high stepping with 30-40 inch climbs at times and one ladder climb of about 8 feet or so, but for the most part it's not very difficult. Upper Antelope is easy enough for nearly anyone to walk, this on may not be for some but overall wasn't difficult for anyone in average health or condition.
After Montain Sheep Canyon, we moved on to "Rattlesnake Canyon", another canyon that only Carol's company offers at this point. This one was more like a mini-Upper Antelope canyon. It was definitely narrower and required two short ladder climbs and some more sliding and climbing than the previous canyon. Here's a shot of a spot where Pat had to hand up her tripod and pick a climbing spot... it looks more difficult than it really is... the climb was only a few feet. There are some gorgeous spots in this canyon. There was a small room where the canyon ends that has a "hole" up about 7 feet above the floor. Woody had a couple of the people on the tour climb up there for pictures. Pat thought she'd never be able to get there, but you don't climb straight up, it's more like climbing around the inside of a huge round toilet bowl... starting on one side and climbing around the bowl at a slight angle to reach the hole on the other side above the floor.... makes for a nice shot.
This adventure has been the highlight of the trip so far... almost as good as scuba diving! I'm starting to get antsy to get diving again. We get home in a couple days and I've got charters starting up again on Tuesday after a day or two break to get back to "Hawaiian Time" and catch up with some things. I'm hoping my e-mail is getting through, Pat and I hav been trying to keep up with mail but there's some issues when using hotel's wireless systems and trying to send mail through both it and our mailing hosts can involve jumping though some hoops... darned technology.