Golden Throne, Navaho Towers & Cliff Edge

Golden Throne, Navaho Towers & Cliff Edge

full print size of 28.6x36.6 inches @304.8ppi, above displayed at 1/178
Copyright © David Senesac 2005   view detailed crop

geranium Capitol Reef National Park, Wayne County, Utah
mid morning Monday June 1, 2005, slide 05-L-102
Wisner 4x5 Expedition, 90mm Caltar, Gitzo G1325 Mk2
Tango Drum scanned Fuji Provia 100F 4x5 film to 300mb RGB file
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 processed for accurate image fidelity
Lightjet5000 printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
signature bottom right          

On the second day of our 22 day Utah trip in May of 2005 we slept just a few feet from where I tripoded here. From pristine signs along the difficult route, it appeared no one had been on this plateau in at least decades, much less lugging up heavy backpacks. I had analyzed topographic maps after our last trip to Utah in 1997, determined to figure out possible routes into the Golden Throne tower area. Before this year's trip, firmed up a route that we set out on the morning after arriving in Utah. A cold storm was forecast to move in, so it was the only chance we had early in our trip to take up this challenge. Well we managed to reach this locale and it was certainly challenging. However that afternoon high clouds moved in which also obscured possible photography through the next morning when we had to escape. We were determined to make an attempt later in the trip because the scenery was just too awesome not too. And now we knew the way.

During our adventures out in the Needles of Canyonlands National Park I had injured a tendon atop my right ankle that flared up with a weeklong bout of tendonitis. Because we were out in the field hiking everyday, it was difficult for me to keep off it enough to heal. So after returning back west from Moab, we worked some easier areas a few days. On the last week of the trip, lousy weather forecasts made the situation pessimistic. Then on a Sunday afternoon I saw a glimmer of hope so we prepared to make a try the next morning. Instead of another arduous backpack, which my ankle would likely not take, we planned to do the long route by starting dimmest dawn. We had seen what time in the morning earliest shadows would shrink enough to shoot, so targeted reaching the area a bit before that time.

As a photographer making efforts to be at locations in best light, I often hike in dim dawn or dusk, and have in fact also backpacked by headlamp at night several times.

So off in the morning we went without much trouble making good time. When sunrise broke, our skies still appeared to be a gamble with significant areas of high clouds. But it was now or never as we committed to the effort instead of turning back. By mid morning we had reached our amazing plateau. Skies had cleared a bit above our main shooting direction but it was uncertain how long that might last. With no time to snooze, we immediately broke out our big view cameras and went to work. This image was the third sheet I exposed.

The park's best know sandstone tower, Golden Throne at 7042 feet is a bit left of center and is the only such named tower. Geology is mainly Jurassic Period Navaho Sandstone deposited as eolian sands, that is airborne, over much of the Colorado Plateau about 170 million years ago. A harder brownish red layer of the Carmel Formation caps the Navaho, providing an erosion barrier. In fact the shattered debris at left foreground is Carmel. The right side of the throne has a checkerboard mesa crossbedding pattern one often sees on Navaho Sandstone. And in the gap between Golden Throne and the broad tower at right is a small white section of snowy Boulder Mountain above 11000 feet miles to the west. At the cliff edge note the shaded overhanging slabs. Cliffs dropping dozens to hundreds of feet are all about this area, guard its entry, and thus are certain to keep things here ever pristine. Scrubby arid trees here, mostly atop the mesas, are Utah juniper, juniperus osteosperma, and pinion pine, pinus edulis. Yes there is one wildflower in this springtime frame too. A bit off the frame's left edge mid way is an edge on petal view of a short yellow sunflower. Nice clouds too! Yes the one on the left looks a bit like a seal swimming in blue waters after her seal pup at right.

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   David Senesac

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