Pic of the Week 2/7/20
“Gypsum Slot Canyon”
Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX
Date taken: 02/02/20
Wow! I have so many new images to share with everybody and I don’t anticipate that slowing down any time soon. While I haven’t been keeping my blog up to date as well as I can, I have been out taking photos and producing new work. In fact, this morning I was bracing the frigid temperatures and standing in shin-high show for photographing the results of the winter storm that moved through our area a few days ago. Those photos will come at a later time, but for now I’d like to talk about my first adventure of 2020.
In December, I had the honor and privilege to be the featured art for the I AM Route 66 gallery in Amarillo. I had sixteen images displayed until February. Which meant I needed to drive up to Amarillo to pick up the photos. No trip to Amarillo is complete without a trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Ashlee and I had agreed that we wouldn’t spend too much time out in the canyon, but we did get to see some great sights. Our first target was a delicate sandstone arch about a mile up South Brushy Draw in the canyon. This hike was fairly simple, though it did involve some boulder hopping and mild scrambling.
After our hike we drove to the opposite side of the park to start out next hike. This one was going to be a bit more demanding, but we would see some nice subjects along the way. We parked at the Equestrian trail head at the end of alternative park road 5, gathered our gear, and headed out on our journey. Our goal was to reach the “Indian Rock” before turning back. The Indian Rock is a protected rock art site found on a large boulder just off the trail. They’re not exactly sure at what time the art was created, but they do think at the latest it would be around the Mackenzian raids on the Red River war.
There is a fascinating history to this canyon. Not only Native American, but geologic history too. This brings us to the subject of this week’s Pic of the Week. While hiking along the trail I noticed a sharp cut in the gypsum layer next to us. We followed the cut down the arroyo and it led us to the head of a “Q slot”. Q slot refers to the Quartermaster layer in which the slot was formed. This layer is more susceptible to erosion than the Trujillo layer most of the other slot canyons are shaped in. But there it was--a beautiful gypsum slot canyon.
Gypsum Slot CanyonA sinuous passage carved through the soft Quartermaster sandstone in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
© Ben Jacobi
We followed the passageway further down the arroyo where a makeshift arch had formed a keyhole entrance to the deepest part of the photogenic slot canyon. Squeezing our way through this opening I found a nice composition showing the multiple walls and layers of the slot. The soft glow from the afternoon sun made its way into the narrow corridor and sent beams of warm reflected light on the rocky walls, bringing out the crimson tones of the slot. I shot several images, but this was my favorite. There is a great mood in the photo that coaxes the view to explore more of this special area. Though this image was made close to the end of the slot so there wouldn’t be too much more exploring. Despite its small size, this slot proved to be the highlight (at least in my opinion) of the trip.
After we conquered the slot we moved on to the Indian Rock where we got to see and photograph the rock art. Again, every time I visit Palo Duro Canyon, I am always amazed at what sites are just dying to be witnessed. If you have not checked out this park, I highly recommend you do so soon. This really is a jewel of the Texas landscape.