Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stormy Skies Again At Last

White Canyon, Deer Flat, and the Woodenshoe Buttes on Elk Ridge, from Natural Bridges, June 28.
The June heat has arrived in southeast Utah's canyon country. Above average temperatures, too. It seems too soon. The heat and the relentless sun tend to drain me at this time of year. It's another "in-between time" of the seasons for me.

Last of the Prickly Pear cactus blossoms? June 28, 2016, Natural Bridges.
The bonanza of spring wildflowers has fizzled, save for a few stragglers and the earliest of the late summer blooms. I did see one Prickly Pear cactus still blooming in Natural Bridges yesterday. Other than that the main wildflower of the moment is called the Rock Goldenrod (Petradoria pumila), a member of the Sunflower family.

Rock Goldenrod - Petradoria pumila.
But help appears to be on the way! In fact, it arrived yesterday in the form of thunderstorm clouds. Then a shower that filled the potholes in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone terraces of the park. Some visitors that had been hiking the Sipapu Bridge trail reported small waterfalls pouring over the rim, causing them to delightedly have to take cover under an overhang for a short while.

Because Southwest's "monsoon season" appears to be building, maybe even a bit early. It's when moisture begins to flow into the region from the south and southwest. From the Pacific Ocean, Sea Of Cortez, Gulf of Mexico. We'll take it from anywhere.

White Canyon, Sipapu Natural Bridge, and Deer Flat, under stormy afternoon skies, June 28, 2016.
At the viewpoint overlooking Sipapu Natural Bridge (sixth largest in the world, you know), the afternoon clouds were beginning to look "threatening" to the southeast. Toward Navajo Mountain, where most of our storms seem to track from. Distant thunder. Bring it on.

The Bears Ears Buttes, Maverick Point, and Elk Ridge in a late June rain shower, June 28.

Then raindrops on the windshield. Then turn the wipers on fully. Loving it.

Sandstone terrace with a view: overlooking Kachina Natural Bridge's abandoned meander in White Canyon.

I got out to walk one of the sandstone terraces along Bridge View Drive, near the Kachina Bridge parking area. Potholes, newly filled with water. In one of them, the pollen of nearby Pinyon pine trees has collected on the surface.
Pothole with pine pollen, Natural Bridges.
The swirling breeze makes for ever changing patterns. A fluid pollen painting.
Pine pollen patterns on rain filled pothole, Natural Bridges.
With such variable cloudiness and unstable air, I was interested in seeing what would happen at sunset. Clouds make the sunset colors.

So I drove up Maverick Point and got into position.

Sunset colors on Maverick Point. Moss Back Butte the Tables Of The Sun, and Navajo Mountain in the distance.
 At this time of the summer, the sun is setting just to the north of the faraway Henry Mountains. There was a heavy cloud bank above them, but it did not extend all the way down to the horizon. Good: a slot for sunset, clouds above to reflect the colors. I watched the sun sink into the cloud bank, then waited until it reappeared from its lower edge.

Sun descending out of the clouds, over the north end of the Henry Mountains.
The golden sunset beams silhouetted the Henrys before sinking again out of sight for good. At which point I went home, quite satisfied.

Photo location: Maverick Point below Bears Ears Buttes, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2016 Stephen J. Krieg