Friday, November 6, 2015

Hikes 2015.074A and B -- Alpine Lake Loop and Spectra Point Hikes

Hiked Friday, October 9. This is now about a month ago. Several hikes since then, still to be blogged. This was my first set on this trip, after the long drive up from southern California. This was after a brief chat with a ranger.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is above Cedar City, maybe 20 miles or so up UT-14 from I-15, then another 4 miles on a smaller road, UT-148, that passes through the monument takes you to the entrance. Another mile or so takes you to the main parking area, where several trails begin and where a ranger staffs a kiosk where either your recreation pass is shown or you pay your entry fee.
On the way up, I stopped at a view point that overlooked the Zion Canyon area. Then I continued to that parking area. The ranger there suggested that perhaps there might be some aspen in color along the Alpine Pond loop, especially from the north end of the trail, so I did that trail.
The Alpine Loop trail is about a two mile loop if you do the whole thing. It includes a loop, with access either from Chessman Ridge or from the signed Alpine Pond parking area. From the Visitor Center, Chessman Ridge is first, followed by Alpine Pond. As noted above, I parked at Alpine Pond.
Along this trail, there were a few, past-peak aspen. Peak had already moved down the mountain, as I noted on my drive up. I walked the shorter loop, heading directly around the small but picturesque pond. It was overcast, which worked fine for shooting shots of the pond. Because I took the shorter loop my walk was only about a mile. I didn't realize at the time that there was a larger loop I could have walked.
Once back at the car, I drove over to the Chessman Ridge parking area, and walked in that area, enjoying some views of the nearby meadow, with a few pockets of color, there. Maybe 1/2 - 3.4 mile or so of walking there.
Still having some time before dark, I then drove back to the main parking area. My original plan was to catch sunset from somewhere out along there, but the low clouds gave me a dull, grey view of everything. I was not optimistic Yet, shortly after starting my walk, the sun dropped below the cloud deck, and the amphitheater positively glowed under the low, warm light of a setting sun.
With the magical light, I walked quickly to the first decent view into the amphi-theater. Turns out it was already occupied by another photographer. I'm not sure if he originally planned to shoot from there or not. My impression was that he had gone out further, to Spectra Point, and was on his way back when the magic light hit.
Either way, there was obviously plenty of room to shoot. In retrospect, I should probably have moved to a longer lens and shot some detailed shots of the "canyon" structures before me. Instead, I mostly shot with either my cell phone camera or my 18-55 zoom.
In case you're wondering which were which, the slightly more elongated shots (like the one adjacent to this text) were taken with my cell phone. The first four and last five shots on this post, by contrast, were taken with my DSLR.
I've had my phone (Samsung S5) for about five months or so, now. I have to say, I'm really happy with the camera. For wide-field shots, it does great, even (or maybe even especially) in low light. Quite frequently, now, if I'm taking a short hike, or one I've done before, I'll just carry my phone and use that to document the trip.
Of course, the phone does not have inter-changeable lenses. It does have a digital zoom, but that means that the "zoom" is just a larger, lower-resolution version of the wide-field view. There's still a lot of ability to compose "better" or "worse" pictures, but the options are somewhat limited if you can't change the focal length.
Still, over the past few months, I think the phone has become my default choice on short hikes. I'm just worried I'm going to end up losing my phone on the trail, now. Take a look at my other recent hikes, and you may also see that the relative dimensions of my shots are similarly variable. You can tell which ones were cell phone shots, and which were DSLR.
The phone's great for those wide shots, but I still like having the option of changing perspec-tives that inter-changeable lenses give me, so I'll still bring the DSLR on most of my hikes, however.
From the improvised overlook, I took probably 50 pictures, of which about a half-dozen are presented here. I was just tickled pink that I managed to catch that setting sun-light at Cedar Breaks.

Probably less than a mile on this last hike. So even all combined, I'm not sure if I managed my three-mile minimum.

The next day, I did the full hike to Ramparts Overlook (four-miles, roundtrip), as well as probably 1 1/2miles on several segments along Kolob Terrace Road, in a county park in Cedar Canyon, and, both coming and going, at a couple of overlooks along UT-14. So I figure between all that, it was well over 6 miles for the two days, so I'm counting this as a hike, and the next day's events as a hike, as well.
This was a great long, Columbus Day weekend trip--just a few hours of hiking on Friday night, stayed the night in Cedar City then spent the next day tromping around the area, before heading down to Las Vegas for Saturday night. Sunday, I hiked in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (still haven't blogged this particular hike), then drop back to the L.A. area on Monday.

Made good progress towards my 100 hike goal for the year, though it'll still be a close one. Got several more hikes in last weekend, and I'm hoping to fit a few more this weekend, as well.

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