Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Climbing as Metaphor

There's a spot in Zion National Park called "Angel's Landing." It's a tall pinnacle of rock with a fantastic view of the canyon stretching away in each direction. Getting to the top of this pinnacle is probably the most popular day hike in the park, and one reaches it via a scramble along a fairly steep, narrow fin of rock. I was never quite able to capture the vertiginous nature of it, but this might come close:



The chain is there to help keep you from, you know, dying.

At the end of the day I was checking in to a motel in the nearby town of Springdale and was chatting with the woman behind the desk. She asked me what I'd done that day, and I described my hike to Angel's Landing. She said that she had always wanted to go up there, but just didn't think she could face the climb. I told her that when I'd looked at it from a distance it had seemed impossible, but that once I was actually up there, and just concentrating on the bit in front of me, it was totally manageable. "Hmm," she said, "just like life."

And also just like life, totally worth it. Here's a shot I took from about half way up, looking down the valley:




The three little white dots near the lower left are cars, which might help give a sense of scale.

Southern Utah is dense with national parks, national monuments, national recreation areas, state parks, and so on. The greatest thing is that the forces of geology seem to be unaware of these demarcated areas, because the fantastical landscape just goes on and on, paying no mind to the park boundaries.


Bryce Canyon




Bryce Canyon




Canyonlands




Capitol Reef. I could do a whole series of just contrails.








Arches National Park



Strangely, I'm not the only one who finds the area to be photogenic. Depending on how you want to frame your shot it can look like this:



Or like this:



Honestly, what a beautiful place. I really think I could be happy here for a long time with nothing more than a camera. Well, maybe a camera and a Jeep. And a dog. And the love of a good woman.

15 comments:

  1. I love that part of the country. It reminds me of another world.

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  2. Same here. I think I saw Spaceman Spiff.

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  3. Wow, looks like an amazing place! I think I saw a point-of-view video of someone climbing up around there (or a similarly vertiginous walk!) - looked pretty scary.

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  4. You and 45,545,678,181 other people found that place very photogenic on the same day, apparently. lol

    Great pics!

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  5. Thanks Maneesh, thanks Ali! Yeah, there were a few other people there. And this is still the off-peak season.

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  6. These are so beautiful, Ben! I never imagined our own country had spots like this. I will have to go some day. Very inspiring.

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  7. Thanks Clare, I'm glad you like them. It is indeed an amazing place.

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  8. You're just so talented! I love looking at your pictures & reading about your travels. It is like getting a virtual vacation and I don't need to leave the office. Hmmm...that suddenly doesn't sound so nice anymore. :) Anyways, can't wait for the next post. Hurry!

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  9. Ben - these are beautiful pictures! And your insights and observations are both touching and amusing. I went to Zion National Park about 7 years ago and stayed in Springdale for a couple of nights...I saw some gorgeous sights and had the best burger of my life at this tiny cafe off Main St. Happy travels and definitely keep up with the pictures and blogs. :)

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  10. Thanks Tami! And I definitely hope to be back there someday, so next time I'll look for that burger place...

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  11. Looks nice accept for all those dang people... ;-)

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  12. You might consider food as well. Knowing you, picture-taking would only bring so much pleasure before hunger struck.
    Did I tell you I plan to adopt a small dog when I travel the US? You seem to do well on your own, but I would need someone to talk to...
    As for the last part of your post...well, I'll leave that one alone for now.

    S.J.R.

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