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Upcoming Escalante Canyons Workshop - April 2023 - Part 1

Our annual Escalante Canyons photography workshop for 2023 will take place the last week in April. From a comfortable base camp in Horse Canyon, we'll be exploring the colorful sandstone canyons of Little Death, Horse, and Wolverine. Here's an introduction to the workshop and the first canyon we will visit. For a more complete description and to enroll, click here.

The first day of the workshop starts in Boulder, Utah with a morning of introductions, orientation, and discussion of objectives. That afternoon, we will have a field session in a scenic location for some photography and to ensure everyone has all essential items before heading into the canyons for five days.

The following morning (Monday) the group will be transported to the Little Death Hollow (LDH) trailhead. From there, we will hike to our base camp near the junction of Horse and Little Death Hollow Canyons. The hiking trail is not complicated—we'll simply follow the canyon until it ends. Little Death Hollow starts out in the Circle Cliffs as a wide, dry canyon in the soft pastel clays of the Chinle formation, bordered by distant walls of Wingate sandstone.

SALT PATTERNS. In the area of the Circle Cliffs, intermittent flowing water quickly evaporates from the canyon floor, leaving behind interesting patterns made by the residual salt. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

Salt deposits make interesting patterns on the rocks of the canyon floor. As we walk down the wash, the canyon walls get closer and closer. Eventually, they are only 10-20 feet apart, In places, you can touch both walls simultaneously with outstretched arms. Indirect bounce light from the high canyon walls creates a glow that enhances the lovely forms of water-sculpted sandstone.

MUD PUDLE AND BOUNCE LIGHT. Water reflects the colors of a canyon wall in sunlight, while the back sides of mud ripples reflect the blue desert sky. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

LDH NARROWS. After about 3 miles of easy walking, the narrows commence in earnest. The canyon will vary in width from here on out, but remains quite narrow until near its junction with Horse. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

Short cell phone video made while walking a portion of the narrows of Little Death Hollow (LDH). This section is tight enough to be exciting, but the walking is easy and (although you don't know it at the time) the canyon won't get more narrow. In fact, it will open up before long. The forms of the water-sculpted walls are amazing, and while it is a challenge to set up a steady tripod, the effort is worth it. Video: © Donald J. Rommes

BEND IN LDH. Despite the narrowness of the canyon, walking is usually pretty easy on the gravel or sandstone floor. Colorful, water-sculpted walls create endless opportunities for photography. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

CHOCKSTONES. Not far from the junction with Horse Canyon, large boulders have fallen into the narrows from a different rock layer above. This is the sort of obstacle one can encounter in the narrows—challenging, but not too challenging. Photo: © Donald J. Rommes

The narrows persist for a long while, providing many aspects and opportunities for interesting photographs. And while forward progress does require care in places, it is never seriously impeded. By afternoon, we arrive at camp where comfortable chairs await and dinner will be prepared for us.

Tomorrow, we can re-visit the lower portion of Little Death Hollow or we can explore Horse Canyon. Part 2 of this Blog will offer a brief introduction to Horse Canyon. Part 3 will do the same with Wolverine Canyon.


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