Singing Stone A Natural History of the Escalante Canyons

Ron Niebrugge Photos, Travel, Utah Leave a Comment

Throwing in a photo of the Escalante region of Utah doesn’t seem to fit with my recent Antarctica theme, but I can explain.

I first passed through the Escalante area more than 12 years ago and loved the region.  I expected to be blown away by the Moab area, Zion and Bryce, places you hear so much about, but Escalante came as a surprise.  It was immediately evident that the photo opportunities were endless.  My intentions were to return for an extended visit to really explore the area.   Lack of cell and internet access has kept us from making an extended visit – the disadvantage to being self employed, although I did spend a brief bit of time photographing the area in 2005, and more recently passed by to visit photographer friend Guy Tal, which reminded me again  how I loved the area.

Fast forward to Antarctica.  I found all the fellow staff members to be extremely knowledgeable, fascinating, and insightful.  One of the staff members was Thomas Lowe Fleischner (Tom), who is a professor of natural history at Prescott College in Arizona.  On the first day of our trip, Tom and I were paired together as part of a group hike into Tierra del Fuego National Park.  On that hike I really enjoyed Tom’s insight, and his ability to explain things in such an interesting way.  From then on I made a point of staying within earshot of Tom when I could, so that I might learn as much as possible.

Tom is also an author and it turns out that one of Tom’s books, Singing Stone, was about the natural history of the Escalante Canyon region (Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon NRA).  I love natural history books, and have many shelves of them.  But, most are guide book in style, with page after page of animal tracks, wildflowers or birds.  Tom was kind enough to share his book with me which I recently finished.

What I loved about Tom’s book is the story telling nature that covers all those things you wonder about when visiting the area.  I felt like I was hiking around the area with Tom as he explained things I asked about!  Not just birds and geology, but the history, the plant life, effects of management decisions and more.   It was fascinating – I wish there were similar books on other regions!

So what causes the dark streaks you see on the canyon walls?  Which adult hummingbird builds the nest and raises the young?  You will just have to read the book!


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