Improbable Rock, Coyote Buttes North, Utah

Improbable Rock, Coyote Buttes North, Utah

It's difficult knowing where to begin when describing the Cayote Buttes region in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. It's becoming relatively well known and a highly-sought hike, mostly due to the notoriety of The Wave - indeed that was the reason why we made the effort to visit there. But we weren't really prepared for what else the area had to offer which made for some very pleasant surprises - the entire landscape is unlike anywhere else I've seen, and an endless supply of photographic interest.

It was a little difficult to pull ourselves off the main 'trail' to the wave itself but about half way there we did a little side hike to see what one photographic guide refers to as the Lace Rocks. (For those looking for the area we went to all I can really say is 'turn west after the big twin buttes and head up and to the left'). While a couple of us made the long uphill climb all the wave up the 'lace rocks' what was probably more remarkable was the landscape that we encountered on the way there. The hillside we eventually climbed had no path and was quite a steep climb up slickrock - the relative difficulty of reaching the place has probably saved it and kept it interesting, as this is an incredibly fragile landscape where wind has shaped rocks into the most incongruous and delicate shapes. Thin shards of fragile sandstone stick out of the rock everywhere and rocks look like they've been chewed apart by termites, 'brain rocks' cap the hillside, and wave-like sweeps in red and white are everywhere..

At one time I think 'the Wave' had similarly fragile detail, but being the main attraction of the region has been somewhat trampled and lost its finer detail. (And this despite the restriction of not more than 20 visitors per day being granted access). I almost hesitate to even mention this area, but judging by how intact the fine details in this region of the hike were I expect that nobody visits it for days and weeks at a time - it was a wonderful place to see the kind of detail now lost in the wave itself.

This particular shot was taken fairly high up the steep slickrock. The hillside had wave-like ribbons of differently-colored sandstone, but running partially across this broader grain of the hillside there was another vein of rock that had eroded so differently - it immediately captured my attention, though admittedly I quickly moved on to the next bizarre bit of landscape. Only reviewing my photos after the trip did this shot really catch my eye.

Nikon D90 | Nikon 18-200VR@20mm | f/11 | 1/100s | ISO200 | Handheld

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