Winter Journey – Mesa Arch, Utah – October 2016

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands NP, at dawn.

Thursday, October 20th, I get up early and head out in the pre-dawn to Mesa Arch, as I want to get there in time for sunrise photos. By time I get to the parking lot, the sky is already becoming light and the parking lot is nearly full. Guess I should have come earlier! I hike to the arch and am dismayed to see the arch opening lined with photographers, shoulder to shoulder, with their fancy cameras and huge lenses on hefty tripods. There is literally no place for me to stand to get a shot of the arch that will soon reflect the glow of the rising sun. Finally some guy kneels down behind his tripod and I can shoot over his shoulder, but I still get the camera of the photographer next to us in my photo. After the sunrise glow on the underside of the arch comes and goes, several photographers move off. An interesting thing happens: after a short period of no glow, the rocks below the arch begin to reflect the sunlight up to the underside of the arch and the lovely famous glow returns.

Mesa Arch at sunrise

Now I am able to move around a bit and get several shots of the arch and the Washer Woman formation in the background.

Mesa Arch with Washer Woman formation in the background

Close-up of Washer Woman Formation

Although I am reluctant to leave, eventually I start the hike back to camp. My cell phone chirps at me; I am surprised and pleased to see that there is enough cell reception here that I am able to see that I have a phone message. I climb up a rock incline away from the trail to listen to the message and then send texts with a cell pic of the arch to my brother and my daughters. After I return the phone call, I call my mom. We have a nice visit until I lose the connection as I’m returning to the parking lot. I decide to explore another trail heading uphill away from the parking lot, hoping for a better cell connection so I can call her back. I discover that this trail leads around to the arch, coming in from a higher vantage point. Not many people are there now, so I go on down to the arch once again. Amazingly, for a few minutes, I am the only person there!

Mesa Arch – I am the only person there!

The early morning glow is fading, but to be there in the silence and the beauty of the landscape is priceless. Back at camp, Clifford is feeling worse and spends most of the day in bed. I walk down to the Green River Overlook in the afternoon, and once again, I am the only person witnessing the silence and the beauty of the landscape at this particular point on the planet.

The Green River at sunset

Friday October 21st, Clifford spends the day in bed, while I drive to the visitor’s center for water; mail a postcard of Mesa Arch to Mom so she can see where I was when I called her yesterday. Stop at the Shafter Trail Overview again and Mesa Arch, which is not nearly as dramatic as it is at sunrise.

Shafer Trail Overlook

Back at camp, I download photos and begin editing them. Walk down to the Green River Overlook in time for the sunset. 

Sunset at the Green River Overlook

Make soup for dinner, as that is something that Clifford can eat.

Saturday October 22nd, I make a campfire this morning and write in my journal. Clifford is feeling a bit better and up much of the day. We work on projects and tidy up Terry. In the afternoon, I sit outside to play the cello, and later walk down to the Green River Overlook.

Near sunset at the Green River Overlook

We have nachos for dinner and I begin reading “Dances With Wolves.” I saw the movie many years ago, but the book is better.