Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

We woke up early Monday morning...and when I say early I mean EARLY!  We were up by 4:00 A.M.  This was so we could shower and then hike to the Lighthouse, probably the best known landmark in Palo Duro State Park.  We wanted to get there for sunrise and it is nearly a 3 mile hike just to get to it.

We began hiking about 5:00 a.m. using our headlamps and packing in all our "photo gear".  I made a MAJOR error - when I got done showering and pulled on my socks I realized I had pulled out an older pair...nothing wrong with that except they were a little thin.  Well, there isn't anything wrong with it until you start rubbing a blister on your foot because the sock is so thin!  I did OK after we stopped and I put on a blister band-aid, but it was going to be a lot more painful than it should have been!  Won't make THAT mistake again (I hope!)

Anyway, we trudged along in the dark (it was actually pretty fun!) until we reached a picnic table just below the last climb up to the lighthouse.  There we realized it was simply too much for us to attempt.  20 years ago it wasn't quite so strewn with boulders and rocks - don't get me wrong, it was a tough climb then, but with the erosion and changes we just couldn't make the climb (certainly not in the gray twilight of early dawn!) We took our first pictures of sunrise close to this rest area.

Disappointed we headed back down the trail to see if we could find a place to set up and get some more early light photos.  As we walked back toward the trail head I turned around and got this shot of The Lighthouse and Castle Peak.

We found a wash and walked along the dry area managing to get a few nice shots.

 We headed back down the trail and as we rounded a bend we saw this horseshoe shaped cut-out with these lovely yellow trees blazing against the red rocks behind. I carefully worked my way around the rim to get this shot of the wash below.

 Back to the trail again.  I saw this great formation, but the clouds were right behind it so it wouldn't show up clearly in the picture - I was bound and determined to capture the formation against that beautiful blue of the sky - so we moved off trail, following some stream beds until I worked my way around where I could manage these shots.

 We finally made it back to the trail head and decided to take a little break before we went back for our afternoon "photo walk".

After a short break we wandered down to the Sunflower Rest area. There was a valley area here, nice and flat!  We wandered around this area enjoying the peace, quiet, and beauty of the trees.

It was getting later in the day and we knew we needed to find another spot for our evening shoot - so we headed "off trail" again.  Close to the Fortress Cliff camp area Pepaw had spotted a small trail that lead around a bluff so off we went.  We were so happy we went exploring!  Just the other side of the bluff, after a short and fairly easy climb we saw some amazing formations - and what a view!!!

Did you notice the moon high above the formation?

 So with the sun quickly setting we headed back to camp to heat up dinner, upload pictures and get ready for bed.  We both agreed we wanted to come back to this same spot early in the morning for some sunrise pictures as well!  Tune in tomorrow to see how THAT went!

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