We’re fresh from one of several sunrise shoots in Monument Valley and “refreshed” by a quick visit to Sonic (that would haunt me a bit later).
Not quite a zoo, the small parking lot was full of exuberant sightseers with cameras in hand. We go up a mildly steep hill then down a long half mile slope to the edge of the canyon – the edge of the canyon.
Like most of these natural wonders visitors can get as close to the edge as they’re comfortable. Here, the river’s surface is 1000 feet straight down so of course to make a memorable photograph you need to be on the edge… and if you’re hoping to create a PPA caliber image… your tripod needs to be on the edge.
Umm.. the edge. Ask Paul Rogers my traveling companion on this trip and he’ll vouch for the fact I am not fond of the edge. Not at 10 feet or 100 feet and I’m especially not fond of the edge at 1000 feet.
Once near the edge I’m not in any hurry to remove my backpack full of gear. That would require me to move and bend down… and remember, there’s a 1000 foot drop.
Paul’s ready to shoot. Hoorah. Paul’s a proud member of our US Army and seems not to notice the edge or more importantly the drop just beyond the edge. Since the lens he’s planning to start with is in my bag and he’s itching to start shooting, its my turn to unpack near_the_edge.
After I finally warm up to the idea of working sort of close to the edge I get my first series of images. Very cool. Pose for a snapshot – me and my gear on the edge.
Then Paul asks a favor. Would I mind going over there… on that ledge to pose for a photograph. Graciously he adds… you only have to get as close to the edge as you’re comfortable. Apparently he didn’t realize I hadn’t been comfortable since we left the air conditioned car…. but I load my gear and head out for the edge of his ledge. I could be immortalized as the unrecognizable photographer in one of Paul’s award winning images. How could I say no!?
After I got there it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. This was very cool indeed (even though that tingly feeling always returns as I near the edge.)
One last cool snapshot Paul needs to document our experience. But this time the table’s turned and he wants me to photograph him as he sits on that ledge… down there! Um. No. Seriously. No…. Yes? If you’re going down there somebody should document it right?
I’m safe and sound on the edge (where I was previously very unnerved) but now I’m nearly coming unglued as I watch him negotiate down to the next ledge.
Um. Paul? (trying not to sound like my own nervous mother) Paul? Maybe you should not… maybe… ok. Smile. Click. Smile. Click.
Paul climbs back up uneventfully and we pack to hike the half mile to the car. I don’t take many steps up the rocks and up the sandy incline before I remember the Sonic pretzle dog, onion rings and milk shake.
A chocolate milk shake.
Who in their right mind has a milk shake before launching out for a (short albeit) hike up a sandy hill?!? Hoorah. I’ll be the first to admit I’m out of shape (who would have guessed with that meal selection?). But we hike on and Paul only needles me a bit. Hoorah. I breathe. No. I pant and pant and breathe. But me and my lean mean Sonic meal make it back to the car laughing through the pain. That’s what you do when you push your own limits and experience something as incredible as the landscapes of this state of Utah.
Now? I’m on the plane headed home from this trip and can’t wait to see how the Horseshoe Bend images turn out. Thinking about brushing the dust off the treadmill in the basement too 😉
I should note — earlier today I read a report of a man who did indeed fall to his death as he explored too close to the edge.