Trees, Bottom of Bryce Canyon Hike

trees bryce canyon
Just how dry is a Bryce Canyon hike? This should give you an idea.

On our second day at Bryce Canyon National Park, after getting up before dawn to photograph the sunrise over the canyon, we hiked down to the base of the canyon on the Queens Garden and Navajo Trail loops. The Queens Garden path is classified as “easy” and it is, especially if you're only going down, as we were. I guess it would also be “easy” if you took the same path back up, which we didn't. We took the Navajo Trail back up. There are choices on the Navajo Trail, the more inclined Wall Street and the still steep but not as bad Two Bridges side. The Two Bridges side was still plenty steep and gives you a good workout climbing out.

For some reason the Park Service brochure recommends doing the loop by starting down the Queens Garden loop then going back up either on the Wall Street or Two Bridges path. If we had it to do over again, we'd probably do it in the opposite direction, as Queens Garden is much less steep, albeit longer than either of the Navajo Loop paths. Suit yourself.

At any rate, while descending into the canyon on the Queens Garden path I deviated off the foot path onto a path marked as a horse path. Indeed the path sported many hoof prints and led off into a steeper descent into another branch of the canyon. I went this way because just off the path was a ridge of loose rock on which just a few of these pinyon trees struggled to make a living in the sere and windy landscape.

It was treacherous footing as I backed down the ridge to frame the shot. At all times while I was composing, I was about one step from sliding down the hill, which steepened precipitously as I got further from the ridge top. Not the most dangerous shot I've ever attempted, but it was just enough so that my nerves added just a bit of edge to the high contrast shot I was making. At least I think so.

I bracketed the shot by a stop up and down because it was indeed a high contrast situation. If I were doing it again, and had all the time I wanted, and stable ground under me, I'd use a tripod and HDR this shot to get maximum exposure latitude. But, that wasn't practical, and the high contrast of shooting into the sun and getting the very black shadows to compliment the shape of the trees worked out nicely, I think.

Shot with my Nikon D800E at ISO 100, f/5.6 at 1/1600 sec exposure. I used by 24mm prime lens, which I'm becoming more and more fond of for hiking about, mostly because it weighs about half a kilo less than the 24-70 zoom I often carry. In Lightroom, I increased the exposure just a little to preserve some detail in the trees, but pulled the black slider way back to make the shadows more dramatic.

For more info about the equipment and software I use, see this page.

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