Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ten Years Ago

Bryce Canyon

Ten years ago this August my sister and I took our first Utah Thelma and Louise road trip. Part of it we were camped at Kodachrome State Park, a twenty minute drive from Bryce National Park. We made daily excursions to the hoodoos and to check on our cell phone messages. Only at one or two overlooks could you catch a cell phone signal. Can you hear me now? became the trip's battle cry.

Oddly we had gotten the cell phones for emergencies. Two women traveling through unknown country. Sounded like a good idea. But they were useless on the slot canyon trails. And only hit and miss to stay in touch with friends and relatives. BTW the new smart phones are not any better in this area. Debbie began the trip with a digital camera which was smashed running from lightning strikes in Arches. I clung to my film camera. And we diverted to St. Charles to get Debbie a film camera. It would have been sad to be in Utah without a camera and digital cameras were way more expensive than film in those days.

Chinese Dragon 

Like many photographers we only noticed the weather if it rained on our lens or cast shadows on our subjects. Or like in Arches began hurling down lightning bolts while trying to take a picture of Delicate Arch at sunset.

But rain in slick rock territory is life threatening. We were photographing up this side canyon at the foot of Bryce when we noticed the clouds gathering.

Storm coming

And then the little stream we kept hopping across seemed to get wider. We curtailed our intended trip up the canyon and returned to the van just before rain drops began to fall. You cannot watch storms approach for days because they build within in hours, minutes it seems, over the bluffs.

Rain over the bluffs
And the water is not absorbed but runs down the slick rock to the canyon floors. There was this huge bridge we had been crossing for day to and from our campground. Only a tiny trickle of water ran below it. So the size of the bridge over empty red gully was a constant conversation point. But that day as we crossed over the fifty yard span of concrete it was nothing but raging water below us tossing around tree trunks and limbs.

And it had not rained that long. Our campsite was not even wet.

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