Natural Bridges: Monument Valley part 2 of 3

Natural Bridge Copyright web2After shooting one of the most awesome moments of my life in Monument Valley, my travel companion Paul Rogers and I make the drive up to Natural Bridges National Park to photograph a few of the natural bridges that have been eroded out of solid rock over the eons.

It’s just after noon, not exactly golden hour but we descend the trail toward Owachomo Bridge. Very cool. These are huge natural sculptures that we have the pleasure of seeing and documenting. At the trail’s end we set up and make a few images.

Back to the car and a short 40 minute drive to the closest town of Blanding Utah for lunch. Yes, we should have come prepared but we’re just on an adventure. No plans to speak of.

Blanding Utah. If you’re ever in the area on a Sunday afternoon and think you’ll find a delicious out of the way eatery to enjoy… think again. We did find a gas station convenience store bowling alley sort of restaraunt that seemed…. it was open. Nuff said.

Back at the bridges… we stand at the view point of Sipapu Bridge and normally I would have been quite content to stand and look in awe at the great hole in the ground with this massive 500 foot tall bridge. Not today. Not with Paul. Hoorah.

I’ve read lots of trail descriptions in hiking guides and park maps… Never have I seen one that listed ladders and this one had three! Turns out they weren’t as bad as I imagined -and way better than climbing down a tree as early visitors had to experience.

Down. Not really the most challenging direction to hike – however – knowing that the getting back will ultimately require the 500 foot assent with a pack of gear is.. something to look forward to… or not.

Finding the perfect vantage point at this bridge is a challenge and I’m never quite content with my location, the light, the setting. But today isn’t just about making photographs. In between all those shutter clicks and camera settings there is plenty of time to sit in awe.

At one point I see Paul looking over at me. I’m just taking in the scene as it unfolds before me. A veteran of both the military sort as well as previous trips to document our country’s great landscape it seems Paul is better able to stay focused on the task… me? I have to remind myself that a photographic master’s degree from the PPA is within reach and I’m sitting in front of a very merrit worthy subject.

Time passes and photos are made and now is the time. Assent. Up each of three ladders. Up the steel steps bolted into the otherwise impassable gaps in the natural trail. Across a fantastic ledge large enough for a wedding party.

With a bit of (or maybe lots of) heavy breathing I follow Paul (at a distance) and make it to the parking area. I should have been in better shape coming into this trip but this has been a trip never to be forgotten. I’ve never been so up close and personally challenged by these type of trails and views.

I am full of gratitude to my wife and family who only mind a little 😉 when I’m not there. I am fortunate indeed to have a good friend in Paul Rogers to have shared the experience.

Consider me blessed.