Day 17 – 10/10/14 Friday
WOW!!! What a day. I met Walter and NJ Jeff at the Mesa Arch parking lot at 400am and we were immediately followed into the parking lot by another car, so we had to hurriedly started hiking to the arch in order to have first crack at the prime spots for the sunrise. It is a very small spot and only about 10 people can be happy with their position there and there are even prime spots within those first ten. We were the first three and the other guy set up as close to me as possible with incurring complaint.
That was the good news, we got the absolute prime spots; bad news was we had three hours before sunrise. But we all had a blast because we fooled around, joked and had a good time until there was just a hint if light in the canyon and Jeff brought out two strobes with a choice of about 50 gels and we played with lighting the arch with them. We got some wild shots by combining red and blue gels to give it a disco look; and just had a good time playing around with the strobes. It got even more crowded as time went on and of course, people were trying to weasel into what was already cramped quarters and it was a shame that people would get there about two hours before sunrise and be totally shut out of any useable spot. Eventually it turned into a bit of a zoo, but when the sun starting breaking the horizon, cameras were tripped at an incredible pace. The red from the sun lit up the bottom of the arch as you look out into the canyon at the Washerwoman formation and the mountains beyond that. Just an incredible combination of natural features. As people left, we started going up on the arch, Jeff does a juggling thing everywhere he goes and had still and videos of him on the arch juggling. We did some stills of Walter jumping on the arch and he did one of me on the arch as well. Jeff did a video, complete with an image stabilizer gizmo of Walter sitting on the edge looking through the arch with his camera and then the view down into the canyon while Walter says something like “Welcome to Walter Ramos.com”. Really cool. He is actually a professional photographer and does this for a living!! In the end, we were the first ones there and the last ones to leave, just a great time. But I ended up being on my feet for close to five hours.
We all headed off in my car (totally rearranged of course to accommodate others) into Moab for a late breakfast at the Jailhouse, then looked at two galleries of photography in town and then headed to Arches for a bit before heading back for our hike to the False Kiva.
We checked in at the visitor center to get directions because there is no official trail, and we headed off. I had always wanted to do the hike and photograph the ancient home, but I would not have done the hike on my own because of the lack of an official trail, coming out in darkness and there was also the 700 foot elevation difference to contend with. Even worse, it turned out that most of the 700 foot drop was super steep with drop offs and bad footing. We made it down pretty good but my apprehension was climbing back out in the dark and the altitude (6000 feet) and just my general age. These guys were much younger and Jeff might even be in his 20’s. But they agreed to stick with me on the way out and I agreed to go. We met two guys already there and they ended up staying for the sunset with us to last light, both of which were incredible because some cirrus clouds had luckily showed up to turn pink at the last moment. But going out in the dark was a bit difficult, losing the trail a few times but managing to refind it and finally made our way out. That 700 foot scramble/climb was a bit tough in the dark, and even though I managed to keep up, I actually think they went a bit slow for me. When we got up to the top, we saw the Milky Way and all 5 of us rushed over to Green River Overlook to shoot the Milky Way, found a neat dead tree there with a bit of a split and managed a couple before the moon came up and who’s brightness obliterated the stars. All five of us had a good time afterwards, sharing information and pictures, Walter took a kind of double exposure of me in the dark fighting myself, just doing nonsense to have some fun with photography.
I think the three of us will meet tomorrow for breakfast in Moab after I shoot the sunrise, and then go up into the Manti la Sal Mountains where the other two mentioned that the colors are incredible with aspens and maples. All in all a chocked full, thoroughly enjoyable day!!