Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lake Powell Houseboat Trip - Part 3

The final installment of my house boating trip on Lake Powell features spectacular geology with weathering pits and snow on the lake!

Near Cookie Jar Butte we hiked up on a ridge of Jurassic Entrada Sandstone. The day started overcast but the sun was soon here.

Variably colored cross-beds points the way to Dominguez Butte (with the reflection on the lake surface) and Tower Butte (right).

Beautiful cross-beds in the Entrada Sandstone. Note the differential weathering on this outcrop. Some horizons stick out a bit farther than others meaning that they are more well-cemented. These tend to be the lighter colored bands. The more orange bands are softer and less-cemented, and so weather faster than some other cross-beds. But not only that - the differences in cementation can be attributed to the specific way in which each horizon accumulated. The orange, less-cemented beds were formed as ripples on the leeward side of the dunes. The lighter, well-cemented beds were formed when the crest of a dune avalanched down-slope. These avalanche beds have grains of various sizes and so transmitted groundwater better than their windblown cousins. Thus, they obtained more cement from groundwater.
Patterns in the weathering pits formed along cross-bedding in the sandstone

Barb and Helen on the rocks

These weathering pits have likely formed where sandstone pipes are located in the Entrada Sandstone. The sandy material that once filled the pipes was less cemented than the surrounding sandstone and so the pits are formed when exposed.

Trip portrait (minus Darryl and Wayne)

Helen, Barb, and Art for scale

Ominous weather

Until the sun sneaks out

What a place this is. As it turns out, it began to rain at about 5 PM on our last evening on the lake and it rained pretty good. As we went to bed, we could hear the rain drops on the houseboat but then about midnight, the rain stopped.

It stopped because the rain turned to snow! We kept listening to the weather band and they said snow level at 4,500 ft., well above our elevation. But it got colder than anticipated and on our last morning we woke up to a surprising look for the lake.

At first the rocks were hidden by thick clouds

But as the morning wore on, the buttes began to reveal their winter splendor

Wow! It was a land transformed from the bright Kodachrome colors we had seen the first 6 days of the trip

Reflections with snow on Dominguez Butte

Barb and Helen in  farewell pose. Winter is losing its grip on us here in Arizona and on March 20th we will welcome the spring equinox! Life renews and refreshes from winters icy grip. Thanks to Gary Ladd for leading this trip and if you would like to spend a week with the Master of the Lake, please contact the Glen Canyon Natural History Association here. Gary Ladd is an instructor and has trips with openings scheduled this year!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lake Powell Houseboating Trip - Part 2

Continuing with the houseboating trip, we next explored the arm of the Escalante River where the reflections were stupendous.

Note the "bathtub ring" which is a deceiving 100 feet high

Glass-like mirror

A hint of wind

Wake pattern

With color

Inside Cathedral in the Desert

Herring-bone pattern in cross-bedded sandstone

A tad bit sensuous



The alcove in Fifty-Mile Wash

The natural footprint

The human footprint

Eerie light

More sensuosity

 And the sublime

Helen ready to hike in camp

Art preparing dinner

Fabulous Rainbow Bridge. See my previous posting during the 100th anniversary of this National Monument here.

I tried to capture some new angles of the bridge

Looking downstream

With Juniper tree



Framed. We did not see one boat nor one person outside our group for three and half days. It was wonderful to be so removed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lake Powell Houseboating Trip - Part 1

I recently got the opportunity to houseboat on Lake Powell with wife Helen, photographer Gary Ladd, and some other friends both new and old. While many people poo-poo the reservoir as devoid of anything natural, we found many places where the scenery was spectacular and the geology was interesting. I took a lot of photo's so this this is the first of three parts about this 7 day adventure!

Reflections from the marina where we started our trip

The Antelope Cut is closed due to low levels in the reservoir. The level of water for this trip was approximately 3602'. Here Art maneuvers our 53' Adventurer in the old channel of the Colorado River, now some 500 feet beneath the lkae.

Dominguez Rock is a fabulous landform with a base of Navajo Sandstone, a lower apron of the Carmel Formation, sheer walls of the Entrada Sandstone, and a cap of the Romana Sandstone

A typical landing along Lake Powell. Note the gang way that extends from the bow to allow for dry landings!

Three dinosaur footprints preserved in the Navajo Sandstone. On this trip we would see numerous and excellent trackways.

More reflections on a calm winter day

With the reservoir dropping (a normal occurrence in the winter), many pools of clear water can be found perched above the lake. The colors are fantastic.

Darryl angling for as good shot

The master at work. Be sure to see Gary Ladd's portfolio of Lake Powell photographs in the current (April) issue of Arizona Highways magazine.

This pond is about 10 feet above the lake waters below it

A view up Last Chance Bay

Glen Canyon was drowned with rhew filling of Lake Powell but an outer canyon still exists here

Barb Denney and wife Helen enjoying the deck of the houseboat. Barb made a slide show of our adventure and you can watch it here: . Thank you Barb!

See the dinosaur trackway in the shadows of the ledge? These are in the Ramona Sandstone and were made by a dinosaur called Megasauropod.

These are miner's stairs chipped into the Navajo Sandstone along the shoreline. Miners may have been descending to sand bars along the Colorado River for flour gold.

Receding lake levels leave a beautiful pattern of striations on the shore. Each line generally represents a single 24-hour period and this sequence represents almost a month of declining levels.

A drowned ghost forest of tamarisk

Photographers heading up the slickrock for a view

Here is some of what they saw

And this

And this! A snow covered Navajo Mountain in the far distance is a Colorado Plateau laccolith.

Gary brough out his 4X5 camera for the first time in a year and a half

Sunset over Lake Powell