Alex Mody Photography

The Archives

November 2011




  • Utah

    Subway Hike, Left Fork of North Creek, Zion National Park, Utah, USA

    11.17.11 | Permalink | 3 Comments

    The Left Fork of North Creek is one of the most beautiful canyons, and certainly one of the most most popular day hikes within Zion National Park. The canyon carved by the Left Fork is home to many picturesque waterfalls and rapids, but the most memorable section of the canyon is called “The Subway,” an incredible, tubular, half-mile stretch of slot canyon that, well, resembles the shape of a round subway tunnel!

    The Subway is most easily accessed by a 9.5 mile round trip hike, from the Left Fork Trailhead, in the west side of the park. It is not hard to reach, by any means, but the hike is fairly time consuming due to the fact that once you descend the 400 vertical feet of switchbacks into the canyon, there is no official trail along the rest of the way. Hiking, wading, bushwhacking, and scrambling up and over gigantic boulders and river banks for four miles each way can take hours, and be downright exhausting at times – despite presenting little to no physical challenge to the average hiker. It is worth noting that the National Park Service issues a quota of 50 daily hiking permits for this area, to control erosion and other damage to natural resources. So, to complete this hike, you must pick up a permit from the park office in Springdale. They can be reserved online here.

    In the autumn, when the cottonwoods and box elders are changing colors, many trees drop their leaves into the creek upstream of the Subway. These leaves, trapped in the Subway’s many shallow pools, swirl around in eddies indefinitely until water levels rise enough to push them further downstream.

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    Subway Swirls : Prints Available

    Just a few hundred yards downstream of the Subway, the Left Fork has cut a narrow fissure into the sandstone, creating the famous and aptly titled, “Crack.” In the autumn, many leaves are blown from trees, and stick to the wet rocks that surround the Crack. I took it upon myself to re-arrange them in a slightly more photogenic manner. Some people may frown upon this, including myself at times, but in this situation, I just couldn’t resist the urge.

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    The Crack : Prints Available

    Additionally, a few hundred more yards downstream of the Subway and Crack, are the 30 foot-tall series of cascades that tumble over layers of sandstone, combining to create Archangel Falls. This waterfall, located underneath a massive sandstone enclave and surrounded on both sides by cottonwood and juniper trees, is an amazing sight to behold – especially in the autumn. I can see how a waterfall in the Utah desert could be a bit of a strange concept, but the stark contrast between the rushing water and red sandstone is a feast for the eyes!

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    Archangel Cascades : Prints Available

  • Utah

    Hidden Wonders, Kanarra Creek Canyon, Utah, USA

    11.05.11 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    In the desert of Arizona and Utah, slot canyons come in many shapes and sizes, but very few offer colorful red sandstone, brilliant reflected light, and are fed by a perennial spring – with multiple waterfalls along the way. It’s always a treat to find photogenic water features in an otherwise arid desert, but to find a mile-long slot filled with rapids and waterfalls is just incredible. If we had visited a week or two earlier, during the apex of the fall color action, we would have been able to throw striking yellow foliage into the mix as well. It’s all good, though, as I will save that for one of the many more times I plan to visit!

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    Chamber of Light : Prints Available

    On a blustery 35-degree day, my friend Chris Kayler and I set out to hike, wade, and climb our way into the slot, photographing along the way. After being abandoned by the deceivingly warm sunlight, it was far from comfortable in the dark canyon, even though we had armed ourselves with multiple layers of synthetic clothing, and chest waders to keep dry. There were a few waterfalls we were able to easily scramble over and around, but particularly memorable, was this slippery ~20-foot high log ladder (photo found on Google) toward the bottom of the canyon, that we very gingerly stepped our way up.

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    Kanarra Flow : Prints Available

    Almost like a pint-sized version of the Virgin Narrows in Zion, Kanarra Canyon’s tall, wide, openings allowed for strong, unhindered sunlight to shine in and bounce from wall to wall, naturally creating the brilliant red-orange glow seen in these photographs. When this saturated, vibrant natural glow is juxtaposed with shaded canyon walls, cool blue water, and even foliage, truly magical things can happen. The subtle beauty of this intimate canyon has had a lasting effect on me, and has easily been one of the highlights of this autumn journey I am on.

    Hidden Beauty : Prints Available