Soo... Something strange happened when we left Lake Las Vegas and tried to go to the Grand Canyon. Siri didn't know how to get there. Really. I had no information about the Grand Canyon and it was the middle of the night. The internet wasn't helping much with direction either! We twiddled our thumbs for a bit, then I said "I've never been to Arches, want to try that?" And Dan, being the perfect travel companion, said "Yes. Let's!" A midnight stop at Walmart to try and find camping gear failed... and we got on the road anyway. 7 hours later, we showed up at the park. We drove the loop, hiked around a bit, tried to sleep in the car without much luck, I took a nap in this arch:
Drove into Moab when I realized 30 minutes asleep in the arch was picturesque, but not particularly restful and I got a hotel to nap through the afternoon. A 6 o' clock wake up call (pm... 6pm wakeup!), I threw on both lightweight jackets and whatever I could scrounge up for a hike, then headed back into Arches for the beautiful evening light and (once again!) night shots.
The destination: Delicate Arch.
The discovery of an Arches virgin: Here's the deal. I thought for photo purposes, we would want the lower or the upper view. We walked to the lower view, then hiked to the upper view, and soon realized there wasn't much possibility for variety from either perspective. Which trail to hike? Yes, apparently a photographer must actually hike TO the arch to get a view worth shooting.
The Challenge: 20 minutes to make it to the top by sunset. (We had wasted some time doing lower and upper views and the sun was on its way down!) I had a shoulder bag, bad shoes, a tripod, two lightweight jackets, a couple handwarmers. I was completely ill-equipped for hiking to Delicate Arch. Most people were already up there, but I was going to try it.
Now, apparently Moab in March is, uh, well, cold. At least much colder than Vegas and California (for which our wardrobes were catered...). While Dan wrapped himself up in a huge blanket and looked like a homeless guy walking up, I was determined to get there by sunset! Aaaaand, I discovered just how out of shape I was. My thighs started spasming, I almost threw up... And (here's the best reason to carry a camera when you hike) sometimes I would stop and pretend to take a photo just so people wouldn't judge me for having to stop. But I was found out. A little 7 year old girl stopped me and said "you're going to want to take a lot of pictures at the top. It's really pretty up there." A 4 year old boy saw me having a tough time and threw out a "you're almost there!" I'm still not sure if it was encouraging or humiliating, but either way, I MADE IT. Yes, I made it to the top... about 5 minutes after the sun went down. I finally turned the corner and saw this:
I found a spot on the rock next to a few other photographers and I almost cried (commitment to self: I am working out enough and will be in shape enough to make any photography hike I want this summer even with all the gear!) But a few breathtaking photos and everything was worth it.
(yes, Dan made it to the top too!)
One of the most interesting parts of Delicate Arch was the culture of photographers hanging out and practicing techniques together. If one person uses lights, it will affect everyone else there, so we work together. This photo was painting with light - a huge flashlight!
This is with no lights (just the glow of the moon on one side):
Then everyone cleared out except one other photographer and we took turned playing with speedlights Strobist style. Here's the winner of the night:
Yup. Arches is a 5 star photography resort in Whitney's book. I will DEFINITELY be back this summer.
We grabbed breakfast at a delightful diner and drove back in the morning! An inspiring trip, I'm excited for all the photography adventures coming up in the next couple months. We live in a beautiful world, don't we?
See the other blog posts from this Road Trip: