DAY 3 PART 2 – CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, ISLAND IN THE SKY.
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After the beautiful drive through Capitol Reef National Park, we arrived mid afternoon at the Horsethief Campground outside of the entrance to Canyonlands Island in the Sky region. We set up the tent quickly and headed for the park, checking out some of the viewpoints along the way, like Mesa Arch, but ultimately headed for the hike at Upheaval Dome, a 5km wide crater that remains from a suspected and more recently, confirmed, impact from a meteor. Check it out from the air here
After exploring the area, we headed back towards the popular Green River Overlook, with the hopes that the overcast skies may still open at crucial moments as the sun made its daily departure from our part of the world. It was nice to sit and watch, taking in the vast expanse of the space in front of us. The giant cliff we stood on the edge of, watching out over plains and canyons.
Sadly I did not get the luck I was hoping for, a blazing sunset here could possibly have provided the most impactful images of the trip. However the photographs I did manage to capture are still dynamic and interesting in the way they portray the colours of the rocks and soil, particularly with the diffused light after the sun went down. As was becoming a continued pattern; the colour tones that came before the sun broke the horizon in the morning, or after it slipped below in the evening where some of the most impressive moments we witnessed, bringing scenes to life, particularly when there had been no colourful sunset to speak of.
The following morning was an early rise to drive back in to the park. I was not certain of where I wanted to shoot from, which is not a good thing when you are in the moment and need to decide quickly. Initially I had heard Mesa Arch was a gong-show at sunrise, and had determined I wanted no part of it, but for some reason I changed my mind and decided I would see how it looked and attempt to shoot something that others don’t from that area.
It was indeed a gong show. Dozens of bus-tour photographers flooded the area in front of the arch, aggressively jostling for tripod positions, elbows pointed. I witnessed people verbally abusing each other and rude, selfish behaviour that disgusted me and several others. Insta-douches somehow thinking that they can lay claim to something and not have to share or work together to make sure everyone can attempt a shot. It was really was sad and disappointing, but was not the last time I would witness people behaving in this manner on this journey.
I took a few images from different viewpoints, including a ledge I found by navigating a precarious chute with a 500m drop at the end of it. I had it all to myself as the sun came up, separated from the gaggle of geese that were only 20 metres away, but I might as well have been completely alone.
I had to capture a hand held photo of the beautiful sunlight bouncing up the rock wall and onto the underside of the arch as I moved on to go and see how the Green River Overlook was fairing with the nice morning light.
After returning to camp to pack up, we began the drive towards Moab to re-stock food and water before heading for the southern area of Canyonlands National Park, The Needles region. This was one of the two most anticipated places we were going to visit and I couldn’t wait to do a hike down through the some of the trails in the canyons and explore the formations and endless natural features capable of sending your jaw to the floor.