Moab on my Mind
Click on a picture to enlarge it.
The first day of this trek is spent mostly on the road traveling
to Moab. The trip was uneventful with a little bit of snow in the
Fish Lake National Forest. I did not see anymore snow until
I got closer to Moab. It looked liked powdered sugar on the hillsides.
I checked into the motel and then went back out of Moab and towards Canyonlands
National Park on highway 313. Knowing that there was not much time
until sunset so I came up to a couple of scenic outlooks that overlook
the Monitor and Merrimac. These two buttes were named after the Civil
war era iron clad ships. The shape of the buttes does remind one
of some sort of ships. I fired off a couple of rolls looking
for the right shot. I found that as sunset grew closer the
Monitor and Merrimac grew more brilliant. I think I captured the
essence of the moment, but I will let you be the judge. The coming
day will be a long one with a plan to show up at the Mesa Arch before sunrise
and then hike up to Delicate Arch to assess the damage caused some
The day began early today. I needed to be inside Canyonlands National
Park prior to dawn. The goal this morning was to photograph Mesa
arc h. I had seen pictures of it, but never had a chance to do it
until now. The road was somewhat icy. I made it to the parking
lot for Mesa arch at the right time. A short trail led to the
arch . The snow was a few inches deep, but those who had preceded
me had already packed down the trail. It was kind of an eerie experience
going on the trail since I was the only one on the trail and the only one
in the park save a ranger having his morning brew in his residence.
When I came to the arch I was surprised how small it was. It looked
to be about five or six feet high by about 20 or 25 feet wide. Seeing
the sun coming up quickly I didn't waste any time in setting up the tripod
and securing the camera. In a few minutes I was running to
and fro trying to get a good angle on the arch . Since there was
no one else there I could afford to choose several angles. I went
through five rolls of film in about half an hour. To be sure of a
proper exposure I always bracketed my shots. It was all over before
I could realize it and so I packed everything up and went on the return
I got in the car and returned to Moab for breakfast.
After breakfast I went down Scenic Byway, highway 128 just north of
Moab. This is a fantastic road. It lies between the Colorado
River on the north and red rock to the south. I drove for a few miles
and took a right where the La Sal mountains loop begins. I went a
couple of miles and was not impressed with the view since it was kind of
hazy. I turned around and found a hill of red rock with a bit
of snow on it. I liked the contrast and so I pulled over and got
ready to hike up closer to it since some power lines spoiled the view.
As I was getting ready someone stopped and asked, "Anything wrong?
Need some help? " I replied that everything was fine and I went towards
the hill. I took out the wide angle lens and took a few pictures.
I then returned back to route 128.
I headed down again the road looking
for something to photograph. I found an interesting rock in the Colorado
River and pulled over to get a closer look. I made my way to the
bank and took some pictures, but I found looking up the river a more interesting
view. I took advantage of the reflection in the river for a great
effect. After that I headed towards Arches National Park.
The goal for the afternoon was to inspect the damage done to Delicate
Arch and maybe take some pictures of the arch itself. Some
months ago some uncaring folks had set four fires underneath the arch for
a photographic effect, but it ended badly when the remnants of the fires
were spilled upon the arch itself causing some permanent damage.
I got an early start on hiking up to the arch by starting around 1 PM.
It was quite warm being in the mid 40s. As I climbed the slick rock
on the trail it was 'Sweating to Oldies' time. I eventually made
it to the arch having had only insult to injury when I slipped on the ice
only a few feet from the end of the trail. I made a beeline for beneath
the arch with all my gear and I found two spots where the fires were.
They are right beneath the middle of the arch and so I took a couple of
pictures to document the damage. The total area was just a few feet
square, but the problem is that the damage is visible from a distance.
Most people I talked to did not even notice it or hear about what happened,
but then again this is not something that would be publicized. I
took a couple of pictures from the usual places to see how it shows up.
Later in the day the shadow hid the damage from the camera. There
was some snow around the arch, which might cover some of the other
damage done by the fires. I can't be sure. Below is a picture
showing the extent of the damage.
I had to wait some
hours before the sun was setting, so I just sat around and talked to some
folks nearby and saw a double wedding take place underneath the arch.
That's right--a double wedding. A judge in a tie, white pants and
black shoes brought the wedding party together underneath the arch and
married two couples. Apparently this is not the first time for the
judge underneath the arch. A couple of years ago a German couple
had asked that he marry them under the arch. Now that's going the
extra mile. I had a little fun with the moment by telling all those
who arrived during the ceremony--"You're just in time for the wedding."
The surprise on the faces of those people was priceless. Perhaps
the funniest or rather tragic moment of the day was the arrival of some
just as sun had finally had gone below the horizon. They missed it
all, but apparently there were some who were even later. Half way
down in the near darkness a party of three was grunting their way up the
hill. They would not see much except a silhouette of the Delicate
All in all a very successful day in that I met my objectives.
Having met all my goals for this trip tomorrow will be an ad hoc type of
a day. I am thinking that some pictures taken near and after dusk
at Arches National Park may prove to be very interesting. The
dark outlines of the rocks and the sliver of the moon would be cool
on film if I can just find my cable release so I can do a multi-second
exposure, which is required to capture the image I want.
I began today like I did yesterday---at Mesa Arch. The light was
slightly better with the assistance of some clouds on the horizon that
softened the light considerably. I thought I would be alone
again, but a woman from Colorado brought her camera and tripod as well.
We shared some stories. She told me that about a year previous
she had come to Mesa Arch only to find that about ten photographers were
all lined up and one from Japan was shooing everyone away. I got off
three or four rolls before the sun came too high.
I ventured elsewhere
in the park. I took a few pictures from the Grand View trail showing
some of the cliffs. I would have liked to have gone to the end of
the trail for the actual "view", but the haziness in the air would
only provide marginal shots. After fiddling around some
more in Canyonlands National Park I went back to Moab for breakfast.
After breakfast I returned to Arches to take in some more scenery.
The most interesting statement of the day had to be the tourist who came
into the visitor center asking for directions or maps down into the canyon.
The ranger realized after some more talking what the visitor was looking for and
told him that he was at Arches National Park and that
the Grand Canyon was some 300+ miles to the southwest in Arizona! I chuckled softly as I thumbed through
one of the books in the gift shop.
The tourist was from Germany and so maybe he got his geography a bit wrong.
I rode back and forth the road just below Balanced Rock trying to find
a spot I could set up my tripod for the shot I wanted to do at dusk.
I think I had found it in the shoulder of the road that was made special
for pulling out and taking pictures.
The evening pictures never really materialized like I had hoped for, so I tried to catch
a glimpse of the dusk and the light coming off the clouds. I finished
off the roll and headed back into town. I had dinner at Smitty's, which is a local diner. It is small, however this is where all
the locals show up and the food is yummy. I highly recommend it if
you ever visit Moab. It is just south of 300 South on Main street
on the west side.
I still have Moab on my mind.