10 Most Meaningful Posts of 2018: #2
Prior to attending the Out of Moab Photography Conference, I did my homework. I studied locations, reviewed camera angles, prepared for hikes, and watched YouTube videos. Delicate Arch was a “must do” location for me so… until I read that the hike to the arch included “a narrow rock ledge with exposure to heights.”
Ummmm… did I mention that I am not a fan of heights?
So I watched this Youtube video on the hike and while I wasn’t too excited about the steep drop, when I saw the small children hiking down the trail at the 2:57 mark, I realized that I could do it. What I did though, was sign up for Delicate Arch on the first morning of the conference, that way I didn’t think about the hike all week or hear from others how steep the drop was. Plus, I figured I would be hiking in the dark (pre sunrise) so I wouldn’t really be able to see just how death defying the drop was.
Our group, led by Nick Page, began the mile and a half hike to the arch. It was, as mentioned earlier, dark out as the plan was to get to the arch about 45 minutes prior to sunrise, which would give us plenty of time to compose our shots prior to the best light. The early part of the hike was easy as it followed a well marked trail, but as we began the incline up a slickrock slope, the trail disappeared and was replaced with small rock cairns. These cairns were easy to see with the light of day, but in the dark, they were not. As the leader of the group (I just happened to be hiking in front) I boldly (and stupidly) led out group in the wrong direction, which resulted in us have to double back a couple of hundred yards to refind the path. Some confusion a bit later in the trail, meant that we were no scrambling to get on site in time.
And then we got to the steep ledge that I had read about and watched on Youtube. It looked doable on Youtube and it felt even more doable in person. The pathway cut into the ledge sloped toward the wall, not the steep drop, so as I walked up the pathway, I was totally at ease and comforted by the feeling of leaning toward the wall. The final ascent, including the steep cliffside trail turned out to be super easy - my concerns about hiking along side the steep drop were pretty much unfounded. It really turned out to be a super easy hike.
But, we were still running late, so we had to hoof it to the top and find our spots, rather quickly. In hindsight, we were pretty lucky. While there was a good amount of people up there (there was a large family reunion group that hiked to the arch for a sunrise picture) our group was able to secure a pretty good location on the opposite side of the bowl from the arch. while it was light, we were a few minutes before sunrise, so we were able to catch our breath, take moment to assess, compose and wait (and hope) for beautiful light. Thankfully, a few minutes later the beautiful light arrived. In fact, it turned out to be the best light we had all week in Moab and I was incredible grateful that I was there to capture it.