Hi! If you’ve landed here, you should know that there is a lot more where this came from if you just follow the link to my new website, scott-davis-photo.com.
So, this summer and fall has been chock-full of fun and trips and plenty of to-do lists. I have some photos that I’ll post eventually, maybe this weekend. One thing that I should mention is that I was asked to come photograph at General Conference again this year and even got a few in the Ensign. Our contracts changed a little this year, so once I get permission to reproduce the photos here, I’ll post them for you, along with some that weren’t published, hopefully. You can find my photos on the following pages of the Ensign: 2, 4 (the 1st Pres.), 10, 23, 25, 36, 70, 87, 113.
Here’s a taste of one of our extreme parenting adventures to Southern Utah this fall. We even gathered almost the entire Davis clan for part of the trip and no one had to go to the emergency room. Don’t worry, there were still plenty of death-defying stunts, just no one got hurt, this time. This photo is taken in the canyon that is a short hike from the Red Cliffs campground outside of St. George.
For the extended Memorial Day weekend we headed down to the Historic Land of Four Seasons (aka Beaver, UT) to visit the in-laws. It was pretty much raining all weekend in Salt Lake, so it was nice to get away from that. The weather has been crazy this year and all the mountains are still snowed in and the rivers are all overflowing, so we decided to head out to a place that would normally be too hot and dry this time of year. The Rock Corral area of the Mineral Mountains west of Beaver is one of my favorite places to visit in the area. I’ve been itching to go explore some of the cliffs and formations above Rock Corral. The rock is a soft type of granite that erodes in to these awesome formations.
The picnic area is pretty remote. There aren’t very many official recreation areas in the state that you can visit on Memorial day and not be fighting for a parking spot. While we were there, one other person pulled in to the parking lot and turned around and left. In fact, there isn’t really even a trail out of the picnic area in to the cliffs. There are a few little unofficial paths, but within 100 yards of the picnic tables, you are pretty much bushwacking your way to wherever you want to go.
Before the manventure could begin, we spent some time picnicking and riding horses and hanging out with the grandparents and grandkids. After everyone had had enough and went home, Uncle Kurt and I took to the hills to see if we could reach Granite Peak, the high point of the range. I’ve spent so much time on kid friendly-ish hikes the last few years, that I was excited to have uncle Kurt along for some serious exploring and hiking. Since there are no real trails, I just had to go off of what I could remember from a few accounts of others who had attempted the summit from Rock Corral. It was pretty late in the day and neither one of us was committed to get to the top, so we just decided to play it by ear and get as far as we could. First thing, we ran in to a wild turkey herding her chicks along, which was kind of cool, but then we had to decide which way to go.
The ridges tend to blend together in this range and everything is so steep, you really can’t see whatever is behind what is directly in front of you. Our summit attempt took us up the base of the cliffs on the left side of this photo, in to the little saddle in the middle, and halfway up the peak on the right side before we couldn’t go any further. We climbed over 1000 vertical feet, but that was still 1500 vertical feet and another mile or more to go to Granite Peak. So yeah, we didn’t come close.
Here is a view from the saddle, looking in to the next drainage over that we should have probably taken if we wanted to get further than we did. It doesn’t look like much in the photo, but the cliff drops of there about 100 feet. We couldn’t have even descended in to that drainage from here if we wanted to.
This is the little crack in the dome that we took from the saddle, halfway up the peak. It was a long shot, but at least we gave it a try. From here we decided to head downhill but up the canyon in to the drainage above Rock Corral to explore. The only bad thing about that plan was that the closer we got to the water, the thicker the brush got.
We did make it down to the river and it was pretty obvious that there was plenty of manventure left on this trip. We had to turn around and go back up canyon when we reached a waterfall and couldn’t climb down. Everywhere is super steep and covered in brush, so that was a challenge. We could see that the water went through a short gap in the rocks that you can see in this photo. It was downhill from where we were and looked like a cool place to visit, so we were pretty sure that there wouldn’t be another impassable waterfall.
That’s where we were wrong. Here’s the vantage point from the cliff where we are just above the 40 foot tall trees in the bottom of the canyon. If we would have had some rope, we could have rappelled, but who wants to be prepared and haul that around?
There was this 30 foot chute that was like the overflow for the waterfall that we scoped out as a possible way down, but it was about 5 feet to span at the top and then it belled out for the bottom 15 feet, so there would have been a pretty good drop to that sandy spot. It was a nice thought, but we decided to hike back out and around.
Here’s Kurt taking the easy way out and around the waterfall. This was actually nice because there wasn’t 8 foot tall brush to fight through for this short section.
We got on top of the ridge and spotted some cow pies and knew that we should be able to make it down from here. This giant boulder was pretty cool, especially for how undercut it is on the one side and still balances there.
Here’s some more views of the awesome formations and wispy clouds.
We got back down to the river and came through this spectacular place that is only about 100 yards from the picnic area. There is a tight canyon that the water cuts through, and giant boulders have fallen down and made this series of tunnels. The water is shallow enough that you can climb right down through the tunnels.
Here Kurt comes down around a little waterfall, underneath a massive boulder.
This is looking downstream under the same boulder. The ceiling is high enough that you can pretty much walk through here if you hunch over a little. This spot is actually pretty accessible from the picnic area and kids love climbing around in here.
I think this area is just as spectacular as the national parks of Southern Utah. Unlike the national parks, I wish a few more people would visit and help establish some trails into these awesome mountains. Then again, maybe that is what I like best about places like this. You can really enter a place like this and feel like you are traveling uncharted territory. At least until you step in a cow pie that is.
The second day of our trip was spent at Goblin Valley. We rolled in at 10 am and the place was packed for Easter weekend. There were even law enforcement officers directing traffic in the parking lot. This is probably one of the best places for kids. There is no end to the climbing opportunities here, and there is something for every age and ability. I even discovered whole canyons that I hadn’t visited before or even realized that they were there. I’m definitely going to schedule a little more time to explore on our next visit.
Most of the time we were there it was overcast and even raining a little, so I didn’t spend so much time on the photographing and spent more time hiking with the kids. Kristin took Swasey in the backpack, so I got to chase the others up and down every rock.
Just because I wasn’t focused on taking photos, didn’t mean that the kids didn’t want their picture taken every single time they climbed a rock. This little rock was pretty cool, kind of like an alligator head. Unfortunately the tip broke off while Parker was sitting there and killed him. Okay, just kidding.
Even Swasey enjoyed herself I think. She loves being outside.
More talking photos of the kids. Jaxon even loves to grab my camera and take photos of me. Maybe I can convince him to start apprenticing as my assistant.
If you hike back far enough you find these little side canyons. They are practically hidden from the parking lot viewpoint. Jaxon and I hiked up this one quite a ways and could have gone further. Next time I guess.
I love these drip patterns down the sides of the walls.
I can’t wait to go back and explore some more!
For Spring Break this year we decided to pack it up and head down to the southern edge of the San Rafael Swell in central Utah. This is one of my absolute favorite places to visit. You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged much for the past few months. That has more to do with how busy I’ve been rather than how little is going on. My son Keaton had an intense surgery (selective dorsal rhizotomy) that kept him in the hospital for about 2 weeks. I spent pretty much every day and night with him, which was fun. We’ve been working on the annual catalogs for the US, Australia and European markets at work, and so that has meant long hours and days and days of photo shoots. We were gifted 3 chickens from some neighbors of ours, so that has been fun. And, to top it off, I replaced the radiator and water pump in our mazda the week before this trip. One thing that I didn’t do this spring was shoot the LDS general conference like I have for the past few years. The Church audiovisual department has made a lot of changes and one of those was to cut back on the amount of photography produced for the Ensign. I was all set up to go, contracts signed, planning meetings done, and then bam, change of plans. Anyway, if you are waiting for me to post the photos from General Conference that I took, you won’t be seeing that this time around. Maybe next time? Who knows. I can honestly say it was so nice to spend the weekend home with the fam, relax and watch the conference from the comfort of my pajamas.
Anyway, back to the trip. Our baby is only 8 months old, so we decided to only stay 2 nights. After pulling in at sundown on Thursday and setting up camp, we decided to spend Friday in Little Wild Horse Canyon. I knew that it was possible that it could rain on Saturday, so we went to the slot canyon on Friday when it was clear.
This was the view from our campsite Friday morning. I love waking up to these kinds of sunrises. The desert is beautiful this time of year, and except for the wind on the day we arrived, the weather was great. There isn’t any water around for miles, so visiting when the weather is mild is a good idea.
Here is our camp set up behind this little hoodoo outcropping, just west of Little Wild Horse Canyon. We finally broke down and bought a spacious 2 room, 6 man tent with 2 rooms for our outings. I loved it and I think the kids liked having their own space. It was Easter weekend, as well as our spring break, so there were tons of people in the area. We were lucky to find this semi-secluded spot.
Our kids scaled this hill just west of our camp no less than 400 times while we were there. The 16 mm lens diminishes it’s size, but it’s probably 200 feet to the top, and a 45+ degree pitch. None of them made it all the way up since it was pretty crumbly vertical rock at the top, but that didn’t stop them from trying. Even after our all day hike in Little Wild Horse, the first thing they did when we got back to camp was head up this hill.
Even with all that energy, the kids were no match for the death march I had planned for them. Okay, I didn’t plan on it being a death march, but I just have a way of turning every hike in to a death march. I think I get that from my dad. Here we are at the beginning of the slot. Keaton had just undergone a major surgery where nerves in his spinal cord were killed to help with the effects of his cerebral palsy. That was only 2 and a half months before this trip and now he was hiking like a champ. He is still building up muscle in his leg, but the biggest problem he had was with his stretchy velcro closure shoes that kept popping off. You can see the shoe on his left foot has slipped off of his heel as his is climbing. I got that jerry rigged so that it would be a little tighter, and he didn’t have too much of a problem after that. If I could design a playground, it would be something like this. The kids loved this place.
This canyon is popular for a couple of reasons. The slots are long and deep, and there aren’t very many major obstacles to scramble over. This is a good one for kids, and as much as I would have liked to explore some of the more rugged slots around this one, I’ll have to wait until the kids are a little older. This was their first time in the area, so it was a good introduction.
Did I say this canyon was great for kids? That was before we got to the water filled section. I have never seen standing water like in the main canyon on this hike, but then again this has been a wet spring. Now, most parents with 5 kids age 8 and under would say, “Well, that was fun, let’s head back now.” We aren’t most parents. We are extreme parents, and when I say “we”, I mean “I” am an extreme parent. My wife Kristin would fall in to the category of “most parents.” The canyon itself was only 65 degrees at this point, so the water must have been in the 40’s. The extreme parent portion of our expedition convinced the rest of us that we should go for it, mostly because it looked like the water was only 2 feet deep at the most and ended in about 100 feet. I carried the kids through one at a time with Swasey in the backpack. Luckily, I was in chacos, so I didn’t have to go barefoot.
Here are Kristin and Keaton coming out of the water. I wish I have more photos of this section, but there were so many people hiking that day, we had to keep moving to avoid causing a major traffic jam. Anyway, the water wasn’t bad. That is until we found the next pool. And then the next, with obstacles. There was a nice family from Salt Lake hiking in front of us, and they actually were great to help us get through the next little bit. Just past this traffic jam was a 3 foot deep pool immediately followed by a 3 foot tall boulder. Normally I would have skirted around this in about 30 seconds, but hauling the kids over it was a chore. We finally made it past the water and in to an opening with sunshine. We spent probably 1.5 hours there, eating lunch and playing. The plan was to go back the way we came, instead of completing the 8 mile loop. It was probably 1:30 or 2 pm at this point. Kristin hated the water section so bad, that she decided we should go for the loop. I like hiking, so it wasn’t hard to convince me. Kristin and I had even backpacked the whole loop before together when we were first married, so it wasn’t like we were heading in to uncharted territory. We simply forgot that kids have a mind of their own and when they are done, they are done. Luckily they lasted until past halfway before they were done.
The next few miles were still awesome. The canyon is a little more shallow and starts to open up. The kids were still scrambling up every rock face they could.
I love this little section. The boulder looks massive compared to Berkley. He was my hiking buddy as we brought up the rear. He does great for a 3 year old kid. If you look hard, you can see Berkley standing below the boulder.
Then the canyon widens, the sun comes out, we entered the business end of the canyon. The river bed is sandy and tough going. The playground is behind you and there is a solid 3-4 miles of hiking before you get back to the fun stuff. You basically hike through the reef (or edge of the upheaval dome if you are a geologist), and then hike to the next canyon over. Bell canyon happens to flow in to Little Wild Horse, so you end up right back at your car. That is if your kids don’t die on you.
This is the “Behind the Reef” road. The canyon in the distance is Little Wild Horse. There is about 2 miles of hiking on this road to get to Bell Canyon and at this point we were less than halfway. This also happens to be where the kids hit their wall, and Berkley and Keaton pretty much were done. Kristin and I started to carry them, which meant she had Keaton, and I had Berkley in my arms and Swasey on my back. At least it was a good workout, because we definitely weren’t moving fast.
That’s when the reinforcements arrived. This mom and her two adult sons from Salt Lake, were hiking through at the same time and caught up to us just as we started to carry the kids. We must have looked pretty pathetic, because they jumped right in and started packing Berkley, Keaton and Parker. Even though the kids were unsure about being carried by strangers, it wasn’t long before they were riding like they were on their favorite horse. These guys were awesome, just the kind of people I hope to be like someday. I can’t thank them enough.
They made it so we got back to camp before dark and actually got to have a decent dinner. They carried the kids to about 1-2 miles from the trailhead before they left us, and by then the kids were ready to start climbing all over the place again. In fact, right after they set the kids down, they were already scrambling up the slick rock. You can kind of see them 25 feet up the slope in the photo on the right. A little know fact is that kids always have a reserve of energy for something they think will be fun.
Bell Canyon isn’t quite as impressive as Little Wild Horse, but it’s still worth the visit. I love converging lines of the sandstone here. Even though it was a Davis death march of epic proportion, I’m ready to go back for more. Now that the kids have done 8 miles, they should be good to go 10 on the next hike, right Kristin?