Images often come with a story. And this one is no different. How I got to be at Toroweap begins when I landed at Las Vegas three days before. I had quite the photographic itinerary that included a stop at the Valley of Fire, near Las Vegas, followed by Zion, White Pockets in the Vermilion Cliffs, and finally the slot canyons of the Escalante. Hurricane Norbert however changed all of that. Hurricane Norbert blew up from the south and washed away sections of I-15 North. I was blocked from getting to the Valley of Fire and Zion. My only route, to my ultimate destination in Kanab, was a long roundabout eastward journey to Flagstaff and then North to Page. This was a 14-hour travel day that left me irritable and spent. The next two days sent me spiraling into the void as I discovered all routes into the Escalante were closed due to flooding and all of the slots were full of water. Well, there goes the trip I thought. Negativity was the standard feeling of the day.
But I hung on and managed to find several shooting venues including a return trip to Lower Antelope Canyon. The White Pockets trip went off without a hitch and things were beginning to look up. But still the rest of the days afterward were up in the air. After gathering myself I suggested to my shooting pal Bill Ratcliffe that we try for Toroweap, a remote over look on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 61 miles, remote. 61 miles down a washboard rutted road. 61 miles with the last 9 over some of the worst road I have driven. What I put that poor jeep through is exactly why I would never buy a used rental car. In fact I was calculating what this adventure would cost if we got the jeep stuck. But we got in, set up camp, and made the half-mile trek to the rim. I was here over ten years ago but my memory of the place did not serve me well. I had forgotten just how incredible this place is.
Looking east or west, the ribbon-like sliver of the Colorado cuts deep in the canyon below. From our lofty perch sheer, vertical walls fell away over 3000 feet to the canyon below. It was the grandest view. Sunset was beautiful and we shot looking west towards Lake Mead. With the evening shoot done we wondered about sunrise. Would we get the clouds along the horizon. Would we get that classic sunlight breaking the far horizon and lighting up the main wall. We did indeed. We arrived in the dark and for the next hour watched the world turn on. The sun broke through a small window of clouds along the horizon and the entire mass of sandstone exploded in an orange glow. What an experience. It more than made up for the troublesome beginnings of this trip. And like all sunrises seem to promise, everything that day was in harmony.
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Image Data: Both images Nikon D800e with a Nikkor 14-24mm, f2.8 lens at 14mm. Image ISO at 71. The top image is three separate exposures, processed in Adobe Lightroom, and hand-blended in Photoshop CC. The bottom image is one exposure, processed in Lightroom and finished in Photoshop CC.