|Hoodoo Sunrise, New Mexico Badlands|
The last week in September and first in October are generally the best for yellow leaves there. As it happened, my trip collided with the remnants of hurricane Rosa, so for four days if it wasn’t raining it was drippy and damp. I lived in my rain pants but thank goodness for them. The Kat fire was still not quite under control and the resulting forest closures limited my options as well.
This sort of limitation can sometimes be a blessing, though, like the famous photo exercise which requires that the photographer shoot all day with just one lens. You learn to adapt, an in this case, I camped at three brand new spots, two of which I LOVE and know I’ll return to.
The cloud inversion over Marble canyon and fog in the forest were gifts as well; I’ve never had a chance to do an autumn shoot up there with these unusual conditions. Most often, we see brilliant sunshine at this time of year.
Setting up to be in Gallup for lunch the next day, I camped at lower elevation (3500 feet from 9000) near Marble Canyon. How delicious to wash my hair and hang all my wet stuff out to dry. I thought the rainy weather had passed until I woke up at 3:30AM to a thunderstorm.
I shot sunrise at Navajo Bridge, and then drove to Gallup to meet the group for the Photoscapes trip. After four days on my own, I felt I had to learn social skills again. The blue corn enchiladas at Gordo’s Cafe and some patient new friends helped a lot.
We stayed for three nights at a group site in Chaco Culture National Historical Park (is it any wonder that people mostly just call it "Chaco?"). The temps dropped to the upper 30s. I’ll admit to some guilty feelings, sleeping in my heated camper, but tried to make amends by sharing ice cream treats and beer. I think I got away with it.
The camp was outfitted by AOA Adventures, a Phoenix company. They provided all the camping gear and cooked for us. What a gift to roll into camp after a long day and have no responsibilities but to sit down to a delicious dinner. I highly recommend them!
This was my first trip to Chaco; I really just scratched the surface. Kerrick James, who I’m lucky to claim as a mentor, did a fabulous job leading the workshop.
The park’s hours are not particularly photographer-friendly (7:00AM – Sunset), but Photoscapes did arrange for early entry one morning; we were escorted by a ranger and had a chance to photograph stars a bit.
|Petrified wood, New Mexico Badlands|
We also had the pleasure of wandering around a part of the New Mexico Badlands called Ah Shi Sle Pah, similar to, but less traveled than the more famous Bisti. The shapes are otherworldly, and we enjoyed the most impressive petrified wood I’d ever seen.
Thanks for riding along on this epic triangular trip. More images are in the Autumn 2018 Gallery on the website.