Up again at 5:15 to head for the Courthouse Towers and sunrise. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going, went a little too far, and ended up at the northern base of “The Organ” looking at “The Tower of Babel” for sunrise.
The only clouds in the entire sky were sitting just to the south of the La Salle Mountains, and it took an additional 30 minutes for the sun to clear those and start lighting up the area around us. The moment it broke, however, the Three Gossips threw some really beautiful shadows.
For the future, taking sunrise shots from the southern end of Park Avenue might have been nice, but since you’re not supposed to walk in the desert, you might not be able to get far enough away todo it justice.
Gregg hiked up to the base of The Organ to shoot from. It was pretty surprising when I got this image back that helps show scale. Gregg is indeed in the picture, right in the middle near the white horizontal stripe. And the wall above him was only half of what was there. If I had shot with the wide angle, you wouldn’t have been able to see him at all… To prove this, see the image on the right side. Gregg is still there, right on the front of the bluff coming towards me. Normally I’d have been running around up there with him, but I spent most of the morning freezing my butt on a rock to take the pressure off my ankle. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was beautiful out there.
After shooting the sunrise, we drove over to Delicate Arch, but due to the length and climb, there’s no way I could make it, so we went to the Viewpoint. There was a 0.3 mile hike to the upper overlook which took just about everything I had to get there. Going up the walk wasn’t too bad, although I was a little nervous about the steps. But there’s no way I wasn’t going to the viewpoint and it was worth every step. Going down the steps wasn’t all that fun, but I made it back to the truck.
At about 10:30, we drove up to the northern campground, where I dropped off Lori and Gregg, since I wasn’t going to walk that mile-loop. I drove back to the parking area by Sand Arch where I walked the 0.3 miles in just to see what it was all about. Gregg and Lori walked the outer loop under Broken Arch, and met me at the Sand Arch parking lot. I kind of like the shot of them walking across the open meadow, with the tripods over their shoulders.
From there, we decided to go scout the area around Balanced Rock, Parade of Elephants, Cove of Caves, Turret Arch, and a large number of other “interesting” formations for sunset locations. Then, we headed back down to the Visitors center to get Lori’s National Parks Passport stamped, and to go through the presentations to see what we’re missing, and learn more about the general location we’re playing in.
Having some time to kill before sunset (OK, a lot of time), we headed back up to the northern edge of the park for lunch, and then to walk into Landscape Arch. Yet another location that I couldn’t walk all the way into. Gregg and Lori took off for that location, and I took the “shorter” trip to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch.
On the way back to the south, we stopped at Skyline Arch for a few shots. The short trail in was very, very muddy, so we didn’t go all the way. Since I was wearing my left tennis shoe essentially unlaced, I would have lost the shoe in the mud very easily.
On a whim, we drove down the 4×4 road into the Salt Valley towards the Klondike Bluffs. We got some great panorama shots of the La Salle mountains from this valley, and an interesting perspective of Skyline Arch.
Just before 5pm, we headed back down to the Windows Section to take sunset pictures, and after quickly scouting the Turret, North and South arches, we ended up giving up and heading towards the “Cove of Caves” overlook, which proved to be a MUCH better location for sunsets. It’s a little “close” but the rocks really lit up in brilliant colors
FWIW, on the way in, we did notice a couple of photographers scouting the rise just to the north-west and across the road from Balanced Rock. That viewpoint might have been a good place to be too. We shot until dark, and headed back to the townhouse, pretty much exhausted from the two days.
We decided it was a pizza night, had a nice cold beer, and started processing pictures. The baseball sized lump on the outside of my ankle wasn’t there, but the overall size of my foot had increased by at least 30% once I took the tennis shoes off. Iced it for a couple hours, then went to bed.
Originally we had planned on heading back up to Mesa Arch to shoot sunrise again without all the other photographers there, but we were all so tired, we just agreed to sleep in.
Gregg drove all the way back to Denver with me sitting sideways in the backseat.
It’s a couple days later now, and my foot, while swollen and all kinds of interesting colors, doesn’t hurt too much, and I’m able to get around OK, albeit a little slowly.