Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 29, 2010

Tough crowd of sunset photographers

My mind was still processing the rescue of the previous three hours, so I journeyed to my next assigned location and ambled slowly along the path to Delicate Arch. Sunset was a couple hours away. Visitors were going and coming, happy, hauling cameras and tripods, joking among themselves, pleased to be hiking to the most iconic of Arches’ arches. Inside I was cringing, knowing what a bossy and vocal crowd the sunset photographers are at The Arch.

Why does nobody shoot a side view of Delicate? Look at this fat leg of gorgeousness.

Arch etiquette is, for the most part, unwritten. There is one sign at the visitor center that suggests how to avoid being an ‘Arch Hog’ — i.e., occupy any arch space briefly, only for the time it takes to snap a photo, and exit quickly so others can photograph the formation. This common courtesy prevents hostilities from building in frustrated photographers.

However, the “Me under Delicate Arch” photo is everyone’s goal, and these desires often conflict with the masses’ wishes. I’ve learned to stay away from Delicate at sundown because it is a circus of boorish shutterbugs. With about 120 folks up there, tonight was no different. Even though sunset was still fifteen minutes away, any time an individual began walking toward the base of the arch, thirty or forty people would start booing or whistling. The person got the message and retreated.

I realized once again why I love wilderness, which humbles you but never shames you or bosses you around. Hiking down into the bowl beneath the arch, I decided to get shots from angles I’d not tried before. I even got a “back side of the arch” shot (large one above) before the mob became too angry, although my ranger uniform may have provided a modicum of immunity.

I’ll find my lovely end-of-day shots elsewhere from now on. Hope you enjoy these.

July 17, 2010

One rattlesnake, just for fun

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:10 pm
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It couldn’t have happened at a better time — the last night of the memorable trip. The four younger generation people had grabbed their cameras to photograph the sunset from atop a Navajo sandstone knoll adjacent to the campground. Becky and I had not stopped to ask adult-ish questions like, Do you have flashlights? What time do we expect you back? Sunset was 40 minutes away and off they went.

By 30 minutes AFTER sunset, I began scanning the outline of the knoll for shapes of humans. It was dark. I wasn’t going to get worried quite yet, but I did want them back home. Meanwhile, my sister and I enjoyed the peace and solitude for a little bit as we tidied up camp and loaded things into the cars. We laid out all six sleeping pads and bags under the stars; there would be no tent-sleeping allowed on this final night.

Shortly, the quartet of young photographers sauntered into camp by the light of Evan’s one flashlight. Stories began to emerge; they saved the best for last. Mothers’ hearts skip a beat when one child says to the other, “Is this a good time to tell her?”

A Midget Faded Rattlesnake, nocturnal in nature, had decided to warm itself on the paved road leading to Willow Flats campground. Marta was in the lead and walked right alongside it, about a foot away; it rattled, she sped up her steps and quickly got ahead of it, and then as it rattled again they all pulled out their cameras to photograph it.

Although shy, this snake has a potent neurotoxin in its venom that makes a bite very nasty. I am glad it didn’t have an inclination to strike at my dear daughter. That would have ruined the trip a bit.

It gives me a warm satisfaction that I’ve raised children who don’t throw rocks at snakes, or squeal, or run, but document the event instead. Way to go, offspring!!!

(Photo courtesy of Google images — said reptile’s portrait is not on my camera or computer.)

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