Category Archives: Colorado

Photography in the National Parks 2013 Tips and Tricks – A Compilation

Becky In The Canyon

Hi everybody!  This morning, I woke up to find that the website to which I contribute articles and photos published a compilation of all of the 2013 articles written by myself and the other contributing photographer.  There are photos and links to our complete articles for various photo tips, if you want to add to your existing knowledge base of photographic know-how.

Just click on the photo and you will be taken to the article.

And stay tuned for my Year in Review post with photos that I will publish this weekend.

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Filed under Acadia National Park, aerial photography, Alaska, Arches National Park, Big Bend, Colorado, Equipment, Glacier National Park MT, Grand Canyon National Park, Katmai National Park, Lake Clark National Park, Lessons, Maine, Mesa Verde National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, nature, Photography, Travel, Utah, Washington State

Mug House

C2C6808_Mug House

“The most important thing we humans can do is to respect all life. The Hopi believe that to not do this is something akin to a mental illness”.

I think things happen for a reason, no matter how incomprehensible they may be at first glance. I think I was steered away from the Square Tower House tour toward the Mug House tour so I could hear the words of the Adopted Daughter of the Bear Clan and experience the kindness of the people around me.

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Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, offers ranger-led, backcountry hikes to Square Tower House and Mug House during certain times of the year, with a limited number of reservations. I really wanted to reserve a spot for the Square Tower House hike because I think it’s a beautiful dwelling (as seen from the overlook), but the tour was offered aftermy stay in Colorado ended. So, I opted for the Mug House tour instead, having not a clue as to that particular cliff dwelling since there is no view area to these ruins.

The Mug House tour begins at the Wetherill Mesa ranger kiosk and lasts from 10AM to about noon for a 3-mile roundtrip hike on a “goat trail” over uneven terrain with some scrambles up and down rocks and boulders.

Our guide was Ranger Denice, an adopted daughter of the Hopi Bear Clan (which I thought was totally cool). Her (and her adopted families’) perspective on this hike offered thoughtful views that I actually remember (as opposed to other things which tended to go in one ear, swish around gray matter in my skull, and then exit by way of the other ear).

Along the route, Ranger Denice pointed out various plants that the Ancestral Puebloans would have used for food, building materials, medicine, basketwork, and ceremonies.

C2C6758_Talking About The Yucca Plant

She also stopped and pointed in the distance to the cliff dwelling Lancaster House, which survived a fire that had swept across the Wetherill Mesa area during the not-so-distant past.

B5A6174_Lancaster House

As you readers know by now, if you’ve been following my blogs, I’m not a huge people person; I prefer being as far away from crowds as I possibly can. I have discovered, though, when I am away from work and back out in the West (which doesn’t happen often enough for me), I am relaxed, happy, and more open to people. With that in mind, I write that the people who were on the Mug House Tour with me were friendly and so very helpful when it came to making sure a backpack-laden, slightly overweight, definitely out-of-shape (but eager and energetic) middle-aged lady didn’t fall and hurt herself during those scrambles up and down the boulders (I’m not the most sure-footed of creatures) and I definitely learned a lesson: my subsequent day hikes consisted of NO backpack – whatever I needed (snacks, water, memory cards, spare batteries) was stuffed into the pockets of my Domke photographer’s vest.

C2C6781_On the Hike

C2C6772_Looking Across The Valley

Our backcountry hike was a “three fer one”: in addition to visiting the main attraction, we also visited two other interesting little sites.

At first glance, all we really noticed were the soot marks on the rock and this red squiggly line we all assumed were mountains….until our eyes grew accustomed to the shade and we noticed one end of the squiggly line had a sort of face/eye. Ranger Denice also pointed out another, fainter red squiggly line facing the larger red squiggly line: two snakes. Water symbols.

C2C6798_Looking At The Snakes

B5A6186_The Snake

The next small site visited remains essentially unrestored. They know a kiva is beneath the soil, and portions of some rooms have been excavated. For the most part, this site is left as is.

C2C6804_Second Site

Mug House, itself, is a quiet place with a beautiful view (actually, all cliff dwellings have magnificent views). One feels the spirits of the past dwellers swirling around them. It’s also the place where three beautifully-decorated pottery mugs were discovered, tied together at the handles. Hence the cliff dwelling name.

C2C6780-2_Mug House Overview

C2C6764_Valley View

Valley view from the cliff dwelling

C2C6806_Adopted Daughter of Bear Clan

Adopted Daughter of The Bear Clan

C2C6811_Mug House Ruins

Part of the cliff dwelling

C2C6837_Keyhole Kiva

A “Mesa Verde”-style keyhole kiva

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If you visit the park and have the opportunity to take this tour, by all means do so.  And hopefully you will be led to this silent place by the Adopted Daughter of the Bear Clan.

B5A6183_Rangers Hat

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Filed under Colorado, History, Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

A Taste of Things To Come–Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

C2C5560_Becky At Mesa Verde NP

I once wrote that I would try to post every weekend (or closely thereafter); I’d read that to keep and increase readership, one needs to blog and blog (relatively) often.

I’m on vacation right now (Aug 24 – Sep 2, 2012).  I packed up one of my Canon 5D Mk II bodies, two rented Canon 5D Mark III bodies, my 70-200mm + 1.4x teleconverter, my 16-35mm lens, 40mm pancake lens, and 24-105mm lens (in addition to the circular polarizers and Lee 4×6 .9  soft  graduated ND filters) for this trip.  I arrived in Denver, then flew to Durango, Colorado and am now staying at the Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park.  Now you know which cameras and lenses I used to take all of the photos you will see in my future posts.  FYI, I’ve used my 16-35mm more than any of the other lenses so far, with the 24-105mm coming in second.

Since I’m saving my photos (so far I’ve taken over 2000 which I need to cull through and edit) and commentary for the numerous travelogues I will post upon my return to Texas, I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here, except to talk about a few things.

As a fellow blogger put it, water is the most important thing to mankind.  It’s one of those required staples, without which one cannot live for maybe more than 3 days.  Water creates the landscape, nourishes plant- and animal-life, and in many cultures living in arid lands, is worshipped.  The longer I stay in Mesa Verde NP, and the more cliff dwelling tours I take in the hot sun and dry air, the more I understand the importance of water. Yes, I’ve heard others go on about the importance of water, but when I get my water from a faucet with a few twists of the tap, I guess I’ve just taken it’s availability for granted.  Out here, I don’t.

Something else that I am trying to accomplish is to become more observant during my hikes.  Oh, I look around a lot in search of a grand photo op, but there are times when I’m just putting one foot in front of the other to get from Point A to Point B.  With this trip, I’m actually looking, observing, listening, and smelling.  I’m taking my eye away from the viewfinder to just soak in the atmosphere around me.

I can smell the Utah  juniper and pinyon pine.  I can smell (and see) the brilliant yellow rabbitbrush that covers the land here.  I can hear the songbirds hidden in the Utah serviceberry, I can hear the night wind whipping around my lodge room balcony.  I stand on said balcony (with a Buffalo Gold Ale in my hand) and watch the clouds rolling across the mesas, casting blobby shadows hither and yonder.

I did not observe the little grass snake crossing my path as I tiredly trudged back to my car, until I looked down, saw it, and jumped sky high, scaring myself and the poor little snake.  I did observe the black widow spider crawling up my lodge room’s bathroom wall (no, I did not take a photo of it – I hate those things – snakes and tarantulas I can deal with, but not black widow spiders).

I am also reflecting more on each thing I learn from the rangers guiding the tours I have taken (Ranger Pete, Ranger Pamela, “Willa Cather” – aka Ranger Paula, Ranger Denice.  My backcountry tour to Mug House was lead by a ranger who is an adopted daughter of the Hopi Bear Clan.  Of the many interesting and thoughtful things she said, the one that really stands out is that people must respect the land, and respect all life, for everything has a spirit.  To disrespect life is akin to a mental illness.

An interesting thing to reflect upon, since I don’t much care for people, although I notice that I am much  more loquacious during this trip, because I am happy.  When I am in my element, then I am happy and I actually like people more (most of the time, anyway, until some moron tries to tailgate me because he wants to drive faster than the posted speed limit within the park).

So, stay tuned for more thoughts, travel tidbits, and of course, lots of photos.  I’ve got 2 more days here in Mesa Verde NP before heading up to Arches NP in Utah.

C2C5747_The Road To Cliff Palace

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Filed under Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography

Lizard Head…

….Peak and Pass.

I’ve been uploading more Colorado photos to my Rebecca Latson Photography website (which I’ve re-vamped, by the way), and I realized it’s been a week since I last posted a photo to my blog site.  Been too busy working on the website, I guess.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos taken during my 2011 trip to Colorado.

This is the vista seen along Lizard Head Pass.  After seeing these red-tinged mountains on various Flickr images, I decided I wanted to see and photograph these mountains myself.  If you are traveling the area, you too can see this exact spot by taking Hwy 145 south from Telluride.  You’ll pass Trout Lake on your left.   Further up is a turnout to a historical placard/sign on your right.  Across the highway is another, much larger gravel turnout where I parked to set up the tripod for this image.

0749_Lizard Head Pass Vista

Lizard Head Peak (I don’t see any semblance of a lizard in this mountain at all, I’m afraid).

0774-2_Lizard Head Peak

My mind fails me (no big news there), and I can’t remember if the stop for Lizard Head Peak is before or after the Lizard Head Pass turnout described above.  To get to this particular view, you must turn to the right and drive a very short gravel road to a gravel parking lot which is the starting point for a number of trail heads.

I’ll be returning to Colorado in about 3 weeks for a 5-day stay in Mesa Verde National Park, then driving on to Utah to spend a few days in Arches National Park.  These 2011 photos are whetting my photographic appetite!

Open-mouthed smile

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Filed under Colorado, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Sunrise

0571_Maroon Bells Alpen Glow_REV 7-21-12

I think I am pretty good with the written word, but sometimes, words fail me.  Especially when it comes to expressing sympathy and condolences.  Don’t know why that is, except that I feel sometimes anything I say would sound trite, clichéd, or fake.

I’m still trying to get my head around the Aurora, Colorado shooting of July 20, 2012.  It’s beyond my comprehension why somebody would want to do something like that to other people.  I don’t get it.

Because I don’t have the right words for something like this, I thought I would express my sympathy to the people of Aurora, Colorado in the best way I can, and that’s to post a photographic homage.

I’ve chosen to post some Colorado sunrise images because – to me – that represents the beauty of a new day,  a fresh start and sunlight shining to illuminate the darkness of the night.

1731_Crested Butte Sunrise

0723-2_Sunrise Beginning Dallas Divide REV

9886_Many Curves Sunrise ORIG

9900_Estes Park Sunrise

0639_Maroon Bells Morning REV 7-21-12

My thoughts and sympathies are with you, Aurora.

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Filed under Colorado, Landscape, Life, Photography, sunrise

Looking Out Over Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

Looking Out Over Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

I’ve made all my reservations and my plane ticket is purchased. I fell in love with this park when I visited for a day in 2011, so during the last week of August, I’ll be spending several days within the park again, hiking, taking guided tours, and staying in the park’s lodge. Then, I’ll make a trip up to Arches National Park next to Moab UT for a few days.

You may wonder at the new look of the photos in my galleries. A post about all of this will be following shortly.

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Filed under Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park, National Parks, Photography