Desert Storm

It was looking very ominous but we made it to our destination

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Don’t let a little rain stop you

This is one of my favorite memories of Arches National Park in Utah.  We took that “short” walk to see the famous Delicate Arch on an evening where we were being chased by a storm.  It was one of those, probably won’t get another chance type of moments.  How could we pass up this opportunity?  When I look back, it was a bit of a miracle that we got there at all.

Bad Information and Determination

It all started out with bad information.  I swear that I read somewhere that the hike to Delicate Arch was an easy half-mile walk.  Anybody that has been here can tell you it is a difficult, steep climb of about 1.5 miles (each way).  Joyce was sure it was going to start raining at any moment but I was convinced that we could make it there and back easily.  I kept walking and walking till I got to a narrow curve that looked like it was going nowhere.

I turned back thinking that Joyce had stayed put back down the slope only to find that she wasn’t far behind.  We convinced each other that we had come this far so, may as well keep going.  It was worth the effort to see this most famous spot in the park.

Unfortunately, quite a few others had the same idea and it was pretty crowded by the arch.

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Delicate Arch is surrounded by tourists even on stormy evenings

Rewards in spite of it all

In spite of the ugly-looking weather that was trailing us, we got to one of the must-see places in the state of Utah and ended up with a beautiful sunset on the way back down.  Well, that and aching legs!  Still, it was worth the risk and we ended up not getting rained on during our trek.

Sometimes, I guess you just have to go for it and hope for the best.

Daily Prompt: Storm

Dry Mesa Wash at the approach to Delicate Arch
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
62mm at f/5.3 – 1/13 second – ISO 400

#landscape #photography #nature #travel #ArchesNationalPark #clouds #desert #Moab #Utah #NationalPark #NationalParksService #USNPS

Surprise!

Rainy days generally depress me.  In this case, not so much!  It’s the dark gloomy gray of the rain that gets me down but when the clouds start to clear and the sun peeks out, the light is glorious.  And every once in a while, you get a treat like this – a double rainbow.

I was out here at Panorama Point in Arches National Park just looking at the wildflowers and wishing the clouds would be gone so I had a better view of the La Sal mountains in the distance when I turned to my right and was amazed.  God really knows how to pull you out of a slump.

Well, I couldn’t have planned it better.  Even had a polarizing filter on my lens.  Scenes like this come and go in a flash so, I count myself very luck to have not only seen it but to have been able to capture this with the camera.

Sometimes, things just come together when you least expect it.

 

Life is a journey, not a destination

Why is it that even though we have heard this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote so often, what we always seem to see is only the destination in photographs?  The image above was taken on the trail that leads to Delicate Arch, the most iconic and probably most photographed site in Arches National Park.  Everybody has likely seen that arch if you’ve seen any images of Utah.  But, how often do you see what the trail looks like to get there?

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I am trying to learn to always be present to what is right in front of me.  I mean, getting to the destination is often difficult. You need to watch your step and not drop your camera equipment off the side of a cliff or anything but, what are we missing on the way there and the way back?  If I had put my camera away as soon as I got the “special” shot I was going for, would I have even seen the beauty of everything nearby if I hadn’t kept my eyes open?

I think maybe, life is both a journey and a destination.  The destination is where ever you are right now and the journey is everything that has led to this point as well as the path right in front of you.

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It’s just a little bit further…

I don’t know how many times I heard this phrase when on the way up the trail to see Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.  Honestly, it was Much More than a little bit further!  I guess I mis-read the information on this trail.  I swear it said easy hike, about 1/2 a mile.  Well, it is more like a mile and a half and it’s a steep incline with a few spots where the trail gets very narrow and close to the edge.

I was determined to get up there and see this icon of Utah.  I mean, this thing is on the state license plates.  Unfortunately, this was another one of those days when it was threatening to rain and my very practical wife was questioning the wisdom of hiking out to the middle of nowhere with those dark clouds moving closer and closer.  I pushed on by myself, sure that this natural delight was just around the corner but, as the trail got steeper, I still couldn’t see anything.

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This is the view about half-way down the trail – I’m not kidding about steep

I actually turned around at one point where I was sure I either lost the trail or it was just going to take too long.  After walking back down for a few minutes, I saw Joyce walking up to meet me.  We decided we had come this far so, why not keep going and finally made it to our destination.  Of course, there were a bunch of people scattered all over the place and even on this stormy evening, photographers were set up everywhere.

I understand there is an observation point below the arch where you can just drive up and see it from the parking area.  If you’re not up for a substantial hike, you might want to try that.  I can only say that if you go to Arches National Park, make sure you see this.  It is worth the effort.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your eyes open at all times.  While the arch we were going to see is amazing, I think I got my best images on the trail when coming back down.  You might think that a rocky, desert trail is kind of boring but it is really amazing and at sunset on a stormy evening.  Wow!!

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Easy walking where the trail levels out and look at that sunset

 

Open the Windows

OK, so yesterday I showed the Parade of Elephants and said how much less attention it got as compared to The Windows.  To be fair, I should show you what the windows look like and you can judge for yourself.  The image above shows the two main arches which make up the windows formation.  Jointly, these are refered to as “The Spectacles” because they look like a pair of glasses resting on a nose.

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Turret Arch on a Rainy Day

Just to the east of the spectacles stands Turret Arch, the third of the trio that are considered part of the windows.  These arches are magnificent each on their own and as a group, it is pretty impressive to see three so close together.  There is a nice trail which goes right up to the arches themselves and connects turret arch to the spectacles.

I still think the Parade of Elephants are more impressive because of the mass and size but it could be that since the windows stand out as individual arches more, that is why they get all the glory.  Also, the way the windows are positioned, it is much easier to see sunrise and sunset over them.

My friend, David Akoubian got some great shots here the week after we visited.  You should check out his blog to see what this looks like at night.

Turret Arch Milky Way

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Don’t Rain on my Elephant Parade

It is kind of strange that this amazing formation in Arches National Park known as the Parade of Elephants, is somehow second-sister to the Windows arches just south of it.  This image was taken at the head of the trail leading from the parking area at Windows and leading down to see the parade up close.  Use your imagination a little and you can see how the great bulk and graceful curves within this formation make you think of elephants.

On top of this being an impressive group, there are many unique and interesting individual formations within the parade.  My favorite was the Double Arch.  This formation is the result of two different forms of erosion.  Part of the double arch was formed like most or the other arches you see in the park, from below.  The second arch was formed from above, by what is known as a pot-hole arch.

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Double Arch on a Rainy Day

We almost skipped going into the Windows section since (as you can see) it was raining and overcast. I actually was planning to go to the end of the road to see the Devils Garden section but, something convinced us to make this stop.  I am so glad we did!  If I had gotten nothing other than the double arch picture shown above, I would have considered this a successful photographic trip.  It’s strange how things work out if you have a little trust and patience.

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More detail from the Parade of Elephants

 

How does your garden grow?

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It was Silver Bells and Cockle Shells for the Mary of nursery rhyme fame but the Devil apparently, prefers huge limestone fins and columns and arches!  The Devil’s Canyon section of Arches National Park is quite a sight to see.  Yes, there are some lovely wildflowers scattered around but, the real attraction are the profusion of fins (like those shown above) that jut up out of the landscape and a whole series of arches that can be seen from the trail which winds for over 7 miles through the northern-most portion of the park.

I probably should have planned this out better because this was the last place we visited at Arches and it might have been better if we had gone here first.

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Walking through the canyon that leads into Devils Garden (there are 2 hikers at the far end)

Taking the foolish tourist approach of course, I started at the Visitor’s Center and bounced around, pulling off at every formation that we went past.  We got to see alot but there were also many places that we didn’t have time to explore fully.  Since Devils Garden is at the very end of the road that winds through the park, we didn’t get here until our last day.  I had thought we were making one last swing through the park and since it was rainy, I didn’t expect to get anything good.

So, on this dark dreary day that was obviously a wash-out, we spent 4 hours re-visiting the Windows Section of the park and going to Fiery Furnace and Devils Garden and getting some of my favorite images of the trip.

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As soon as we left, I was planning another visit to Arches so that I could actually walk the many miles of the Devils Garden trail that we didn’t see as well as so many other places that we only touched on.  Anybody up for a field trip?

Broken Arch
Broken Arch