Return to Goblin Valley

As I left the Great Gallery, the winds that had been present all day began to increase in intensity. Sustained winds of up to 50 miles per hour were blasting me with sand as I made my way along the dry wash in the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon. Thankfully, my photographic equipment was well protected from the elements by my Lowepro Slingshot Photo Backpack (www.lowepro.com). I tilted my head downward, using the brim of my Tilly Endurable hat (www.tilley.com) to block my eyes from the flying sand. Certainly not the most pleasant conditions for the long walk ahead of me, but I excepted the circumstances and traveled on, still somewhat high from the experience of viewing the ancient artwork I was leaving behind.

After a while, I reached the beginning of the trail that climbed up and out of the canyon. As the trail brought me higher and higher, the exposure to the wind increased. Visibility was limited to only a few yards in front of me, and I wondered if a person of less weight could possibly be blown right off of the edge of trail. When I finally reached the trailhead parking lot, I devoured a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my truck while the howling winds rocked it back and forth.

It was getting late in the day and I was probably about an hour away from Goblin Valley State Park. I wondered if the sand storm was hitting that area and if it would be worth rushing there to capture the warm light on the hoodoos. Well, I didn’t drive this far to sit and eat PBJs in my truck! 30 – 40 miles of rolling single lane dirt roads lie between Horseshoe Canyon and Goblin Valley, and the Nissan Pathfinder traversed them with ease, occasionally bouncing over the sand drifts that had accumulated because of the storm.

When I reached Goblin Valley, I only had about 15 minutes of sunlight left to shoot, so I quickly grabbed my gear and ran down into the valley. I was happy to see that the winds had chased away any tourists that might otherwise be present, so I had the park to myself. Down among the hoodoos, I was fairly well protected from the blowing sand. I managed to capture a few shots before the sun sank below the horizon. The sand storm created a haze in the sky that is apparent in this shot.

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