Rock Emulsion

There are so many vastly grand places to visit in Southern Utah that sometimes an observer’s eyes and sensibilities can become surfeited with enormous reddish-orange sandstone formations towering above. Modest landscapes are the answer, though to tell the truth Utah’s less spectacular scenes would be the crown jewels of many states’ parks if they could be magically exported.

There’s a small state park in southern Utah called Kodachrome Basin. The park is surrounded by its spectacular but overcrowded Federal peers, and the place can easily be overlooked by a traveler anxious to see such famous sites such as Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.

The name “Kodachrome Basin” sounds a bit antiquated to me, a throwback to the days of film photography. Is Kodachrome film even manufactured these days? I can imagine a time far in the future, perhaps a period following a recovery from a dystopian era of lost knowledge. The park is still open but nobody remembers the source of the name. A belief has arisen that the park was named after an ancient Ute chief called Ko-Da-Krom, a mighty warrior who lived in the basin, way back in the dim mists of the past.

The park is in a small valley, perhaps just a few miles across. It is bordered on three sides by steep and jagged sandstone mountains which rise about one thousand feet from the valley floor, which is covered by sagebrush interspersed with pinon pine and juniper trees. Surreal phallic pillars of red and white sandstone tower over the valley like sentinels or watchtowers. The cliffs ringing the valley look like they were frozen while oozing from the depths. These cliffs look like
miniature alps. Weirdly fanciful shapes abound, and it is difficult to
see them without being reminded of goblin faces and mutant hybrid
animals.

The valley is sprinkled with narrow stone towers which remind people variously of sentinels, pipes, or stony generative organs. There are several theories which attempt to explain the origin of these curious structures. Erosion of surrounding soft sediments seems to be the likely culprit.

Between the valley floor and the surrounding peaks sculpted sandstone oddities brood silently over the campgrounds:

The basin contains one stone arch:

Two more scenes from a chilly morning walk:

We encountered just one other hardy camper the morning after a seventeen-degree F. night. She said, “I read about this place in a hiking guidebook; it was described as a national park in miniature, and I figured that it wouldn’t be too crowded this time of year!”

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8 Comments

Filed under Photos, Travels

8 responses to “Rock Emulsion

  1. Joan

    Kodachrome: 1935 to 2009. May she rest in piece. Well it took 54 years for Mamma to take my Kodachrome away, although it was too expensive for my real Momma to dole out much of it. When I was a kid on a Southwest trip with a church group, I was allowed only a reel of 12 pictures. Now I use that many on one subject.

    Still, think of the billions of photographs made in this valley. The colored postcards, the home movies, the myriad calendars of the Southwest. Kodachrome’s had a great run. Truth be told, Kodachrome is a lot more lyrical name for the valley than if it were to be named today. Imagine the scenario. “ Hey! Let’s take a trip to Digital Valley and see if we can get some good shots from Mega Pixel Point . Wonder if this valley was named from and Indian tribe or chief named Digi Taw.”

    Speaking of digits. That second picture looks like giant figures grasping the edge of the cliff, ready to flick a small rock (or something more odiferous) over the edge with his thumb. (well, actually it looks a bit like a small bird, but St. Francis was not pre-historic. )

    Just for fun, Here’s Paul Simon’s song, which I will not be able to out of my head for another week.

    Well, maybe the antidote will be to write my own song. . “Google Chrome” comes to mind.

    Thanks again for a great set of photos, Larry. You never disappoint

  2. Thanks for the song and comments, Joan!

  3. Joan

    You are most welcome, Larry. I Imagine you and Bev are way glad to be back where the view is still terrific but the inside plumbing is better. (grin)
    Oops! Running true to form, I misspelled something right off the bat. That first post should read ‘fingers’ and not ‘figures’. Guess my spell checker didn’t like me giving the finger(s) to a famous rock outcropping.

  4. Larry, I’m enjoying your posts of your trip – great photos! I’ve never been to Utah – it’s on my list! John and his brother did a photo trip last year, and his sisters do an annual trek.

  5. Virginia

    What an unusual and lovely basin. I missed this on a drive through Utah. Thank you for these pictures. I smiled at Joan’s reference to Paul Simon’s Kodachrome, an old favorite of mine.

    • Darrell

      Larry, thanks for the Utah pix . . .
      Maybe Kodachrome is a derivative from Conan the Barbarian’s deity, Crom?? Maybe it is some sort of invocation? Y’know: “Kohh-Dah- Crom” (as pronounced by Conan)??
      I
      think Kodachrome Basin got its name when the pioneering color film came out. I never used it much, but became a big Ektachrome user instead; I loved the blue bias in those days and shot up gobs of the stuff in Turkey in the late 60’s. Frankly Kodachrome was just too slow in the ASA realm . . . and it seemed to have a red bias that I didn’t care for. I was told that Ektachrome’s big plus was that it could be processed locally, whereas Kodachrome had to be processed only in Rochester, NY. Still, the emulsion films are great . . . a high powered video tech told me several years ago that emulsion film still had 10 times the resolution of digital in most situations, so . . . .

      Don’t feel bad Virginia. I’ve run back and forth across Utah and never knew this place existed.

  6. As I remember, Darrell, one of Conan’s exclamations was “By the great god Crom!”, Crom being one of those cruel and implacable Northern deities.

    I’ve been spoiled by digital photography. Film might have higher resolution, but it’s resolution I don’t need.

    I’m glad you liked the post, Virginia and Leslie!

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