Arizona & Utah, Day 4 / by Josh Trudell

  Heading into Arches National Park, we all craned our necks to look up at the huge red stone building blocks and the – yay! – blue sky beyond.

We start with Balanced Rock, and shoot steadily for an hour or so. That stop resulted in one of my favorite shots from the trip:


Those wisps of clouds started to thicken into the deadly flat white sky as we reached the Windows, big almost-matching arches.

There were a lot of tourists, but Chris and I avoided them by walking through the arch and doing our best Spider-Man impersonation on the ledges on the other side, reaching a small ledge where we perched to shoot back through the arch at land formations on the other side.

After making our way down, we headed over to Double Arch, two huge arches that had tourists climbing all over the base.

We set up near the trail nearby. With some advice from Ian, I pulled out the big zoom I rented for the trip and got some nice detail shots of the arches intersecting – thereby cropping out the myriad of tourists below.

This was one of the few instances on this trip where the big zoom lens - 70-400mm - I rented came i nuseful.

All this time, it’s getting darker…

After lunch, we took a siesta, and I wandered the streets. As rain began to patter down, I realized I had forgotten a raincoat, and picked one up, along with a new Otterbox for my phone.

I keep all my notes for stories on my phone – both written and in voice memos – and the black casing – the most reliable phone case I’ve ever had - had finally worn out. When I peeled it off, grains of red sand from our adventures pattered on the countertop in the store.

The rain continued, but we braved it, heading back into Canyonlands in a storm that swept through the canyons, slowing us down at times to a walking speed.

At one point, we see a storm sweeping across an open plain to our right. Braving the rain, Chris, Ian and I dashed out to the cliff’s edge, setting up and shooting while trying to keep our gear dry with middling success.

It was pouring all around us - but there was hope of one little beam of light sneaking through.

The rain broke again as we headed for Mesa Arch – one of the most photographed arches, and really a unique challenge compositionally. The rock detail is amazing, but the view through it – to the plains and mountains beyond  - requires a very high f-stop.

And oh, by the way – the arch is right on the edge of a thousand-foot drop. It’s been photographed a lot and by the best, but it’s still stunning.

After Mesa, we hauled back to the car and headed for the Green River Overlook again, hoping to get one shaft of sunlight to break through the morass of storm clouds.

We waited.

And waited.

While we were waiting, I turned around for a moment and looked behind us. This rainbow appeared, centered over the old, worn tree.


I shivered – but that might have been the rain and falling temperatures.

And….the waiting finally paid off.

At the last gasp, one beam of sunlight broke through and lit up the canyon walls on the far side of the overlook. We all shot furiously, trying to capture it in the few seconds before it was gone. Trudell-Breaking-Through

Day 5: Heading home