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Amber at Peek-a-boo -From the “Humanlandscapes” portfolio

“Amber at Peek-a-boo” moves us north out of Northern Arizona and into Southern Utah. The Colorado Plateau is filled with many exciting and beautiful things and often hidden from sight are some of nature’s most beautiful creations–the sensuous curves of the slot canyons. These canyons are not easy to find, and most lie in remote areas. Sometimes you could be within a few feet of a gorgeous canyon and not know it is there, as they hide below a cleft in the surface crust.

Southern Utah is simply filled with breathtaking places in a vast and austere landscape. Peek-a-boo canyon lies in the center of The Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument created by President Clinton in September 1996. There are nearly 1.9 million acres of land in this high, rugged, and remote region where multi-hued cliffs run for distances that defy human perspective, and this was the last place in the continental United States to be mapped.

Many of the secret gems of this region lie near the small town of Escalante on Route 12. Almost all the sites requite a short hike off of the main roads, so there are few people sharing your experience. Calf Creek Falls is not to be missed, and should be your first stop/hike. Peek-a-boo is at the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch 33 miles southeast of Escalante. Drive 5 miles east on Route 12 and turn right on Hole-in-the-Rock Road–a dirt road. After 12 miles, you will come to Devils Garden. 14.5 miles after Devil’s Garden, you will come to a lone forked juniper tree on the right, and take a left turn right after that. The road is rough, but bear left for 1.7 miles until you reach a parking lot. From the parking lot, you will hike a moderately strenuous downhill route through sandy washes and over slick rock for 0.5 mile to reach the Dry Fork of Coyote Gulch. At the bed of the gulch, turn right and continue downstream to reach a series of slot canyons with Peek-a-boo being the first and most unusual. You have to climb up to Peek-a-boo with some help from a series of steps cut in the rock. Peek-a-boo is well named and not for the claustrophobic. It is a series of convoluted holes and tunnel-like passages that requite some agility to get through. The back end of the narrows are the most interesting with tortuous walls that collapse until it requires squeezing to get through.

The Earth nourishes and embraces me. I wait patiently, coiled and anxious, trembling with the heat of a thousand suns. Soon I will emerge and nourish you. Peter Crane

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a national treasure, and exploring this wilderness area brings spectacular rewards.

This is a part of “the story behind the image.” The next image is also from the Coyote Gulch area, and I will discuss some camera settings and depth of field considerations that are essential to successfully photograph these narrow spaces. And, I’m off to Cuba, so the next blog will be delayed.

P. Miller

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