So, its been a while since I've made a blog post. I've been working furiously to get my website done so I can (hopefully) start making a little money doing real estate photography. Go check my website out, neildjohnson.com. It's a work in progress, but I'm starting to feel pretty good about it. Here are a few new images as well. I've got quite a few projects going with Zach and Kyle right now, so you will probably see more of them on here. One of these projects is a time lapse for one of Zach's paintings, go check out his work at http://zachcrane.wordpress.com it's super rad.
Katie and I visited the Stoddard Slough last night. The tumultuous weather made for some really cool shots of the sky. We also saw a little Spotted Sandpiper (bird), but I didn't have my long lens, so no picture.
On the way home from work I saw these Geese flying into a rainstorm.
One more photo from the state capital. Such a pretty building. I think I'm going to play around with vertical panoramas some more.
Until last Friday I hadn't been to the state capital since I was a kid. If you haven't been lately, I recommend you make a trip up there. I had a great time wandering around the property admiring the architecture and history.
The inside of the capital is amazing.
Katie thinks I need more practice, that's why she convinced me to take her out to take pictures.
Katie really wanted to jump in puddles. It was her idea to take pictures of it. I'm really glad she thought of it, because I got some of the best pictures I have taken in a long time.
I haven't posted much lately, but I will be shooting a lot in the upcoming couple of months to get ready to shoot at my cousin Shelby's wedding. I've got a few bits of technique to perfect before June 29th.
One month after our experience getting an injured group member out of Granary Canyon in Moab, we returned to the canyon to finish what we had started. After a little confusion with rides, and an unfortunate mechanical problem with Bryan's car we made it to Moab at around 8:30 p.m. on Friday night to find that our campground from the previous trip was occupied. This particular campground was one we had chosen to go back to because when your driving through this kind of terrain at night, you can't see anything but the road, so when you wake up on this outcrop with 400' cliffs on 3 sides of you and the sun rising over the La Sal Mountains, It's pretty cool. We retreated back up the road to a sandy little nook and set up camp. We got on the road the next morning bound for Jug Handle Arch where would leave the shuttle car, at about 9 a.m. Jug Handle Arch is located about 14 miles down Potash Road in Moab, along the climbing mecca 'Wall street'.
I led the group on a bit of a misadventure when I realized my gps wouldn't recognize the format of the coordinates I had, and was therefore trying to just use a map. We were hiking back towards the head of the canyon, which we passed (my fault), when we noticed another group of canyoneers down inside the canyon. I asked them what route they were doing and they told us they were doing the route with the 'onion' rappel, which turned out to not be true (no thanks to ajroadtrips.... again), but I think everyone was getting eager to get in the canyon, so we dropped in off a little tree right behind the other group. From the little tree where we dropped in, we could see the scree pile and the spot where Steve broke his ankles, Katie and I got a kick out of how far we made it into the canyon before we had to turn back (about 100 yards). The canyon was enjoyable, a few big rappels, and a few good obstacles requiring some climbing moves, but no real downclimbing or stemming.
There were some of the nastiest looking pools of water in the canyon on this trip.
At the top of a 70' rappel Dakota had his phone on his lap and forgot about it, when he stood up it went flying over the edge, bouncing off the walls and slamming into the wet sand at the bottom. A member of the other group picked it up and, to our amazement, informed it was still working. Down from this a little ways the canyon widened out quite a bit and the other group exited and headed back to their car. We soon came around a corner to find the canyon deepening dramatically.
After this rappel there wasn't any vertical obstacles until the exit rappel. It was just a lot of boulders for a little ways and then a very sandy hike. We came around another corner to see we were on the top of these HUGE 500' wingate cliffs overlooking the Colorado River. We searched a little bit for an area where we could rappel with a 200' rope. We found a place that had a 60' rappel and then another 120' rappel to the bottom. My phone was dead by this point, so I dont have any pictures, I will add them when I get some from other members of the group. After the final rappel we navigated around huge boulders for what seemed like close to an hour and then Cody, who sprinted from the bottom of the rappel to the car, met us to shuttle the group back to the Subaru at the top. We piled into the back of his Mazda with 4 people in the back seats and backpacks and gear on our laps reaching the ceiling of the car. We made it to the junction of US 191 and US 313 and Cody's car was having some serious problems. We pulled over with the hood up for a few minutes when an extremely nice couple from Bountiful pulled over and offered me and Bryan a ride back to the Subaru. We had parked the Forester at the end of a fairly aggressive 4WD trail and I did all but beg the couple to turn around and let us walk to the car in fear that they would damage their Subaru Outback being such good Samaritans. They however, took us right to the end of the trail with no problems. We made it back to Moab, met with Cody and Daina at Jax and enjoyed a burger. Because we didn't really want to drive back to our campground and we wanted a shower, we took a little advice from my cousin Kyle and booked a room at the Lazy Lizard Hostel.
All I have to say about the Lazy Lizard is that it was awesome! One of the best nights sleep I have ever had.
Friday night Katie, Kyle, Steve and myself packed up and headed down to Moab do do some canyoneering in Granary Canyon. We got to where we thought we were supposed to be, set up camp and settled in for a pretty cold night. Just before bed Katie and I tried for a few shots of the stars. It was too cold to really take the time to get a good shot. But here are the two I thought looked the best.
Notice the cool star trails and the airplane trail in this one.
Saturday morning we woke up early to hit the canyon. We were a little bit lost and found that we had camped on this little peninsula with 400' cliffs 30' in 3 directions from the car. Kind of a surprise to wake up to. But we found our way to the head of the canyon with some help from a GPS app.
We came to the head of the canyon and decided not to rappel in at the 50ish foot drop. Instead we hiked about 100 yards down canyon to a 200' scree pile and just scrambled down into the canyon. After a few easy downclimbs and a frozen solid pot hole, we came to the first rappel (pictured above), about 25-30 feet from the floor, but it had a little landing about 6' off the ground. We got down with no problem and continued down canyon a little ways.
We then came to a little drop of about 6 or 7 foot overhang with another frozen pool at the bottom. In order to avoid this pool Kyle jumped to the left onto a small mound of sand. Steve shortly followed suit. But right after Steve landed we could tell he had done something to his ankle. He then told us he had heard two pops in his right ankle when he landed and his left ankle was feeling only a little better than his right. After seeing the swelling it was apparent we needed to get out of the canyon, but getting out the bottom wasn't going to be an option. Luckily me and Katie were still on top of the little drop, so I ran back about 20 feet to a big tree and rigged a fixed line we could use to get back up. I went down and rigged Steve up for ascent and then climbed back up the drop using Prussik loops and a little help from Kyle. Then i rigged a 3 to 1 haul system just in case. Steve was able to ascend using his left foot with no problem. I then left Katie and Kyle to climb up on their own and I went to scout out the 25-30 footer for a way back up. The rest of the group showed up soon after I had looked around a bit. Kyle spotted a route up a dome and onto a little sandy shelf with a tree growing on it. The first handhold was well above my head, but with a good partner assist from Kyle I was able to get to it. Using as much friction I could generate on the sandstone with my body I climbed up to the tree. The shelf was about a foot wide and consisted of dried clay and sand, so it was very flaky and soft. But after brushing some off and climbing through the tree and sliding down a little chute under another tree I was at the top of the first rappel. Steve was able to ascend this one on his own as well.
Here is Kyle at the top of the rappel.
Katie and I at the top of the rappel coiling up some accessory cord we used to hold kneepads to Steves knees. The next obstacle was the 200' scree pile. To climb this safely I atteched a 30' piece of webbing to my harness and the other side to Steves. I would go up ahead and scout out the easiest route and then anchor myself in so I could provide a belay for Steve as he crawled out. Kyle was climbing out right behind Steve to provide support as well. After we got to the top Kyle piggy backed Steve back to the car with incredible speed and we were at the Moab hospital within 30 minutes of arriving at the car.
Hanging out in the waiting room, we met a lot of interesting people. Turns out Steve's right ankle was broken in two places and his left ankle was sprained. I cannot believe he did as much crawling and climbing as he did with two bum ankles. It was pretty impressive.
We then enjoyed an incredible burger at Milt's and then headed home.
Here is a map showing exactly where we went.