Horseshoe Bend and my ND

Up and onward to Phoenix, AZ to meet with a dear friend Cheri, and her daughter Melissa, for lunch. Met at Island burgers and caught up. We hugged our goodbyes and headed north through Flagstaff to Page. This is becoming an expensive tourist town. Plenty of outdoor activities but not much going on in town once the sun sets.

We checked into our motel and headed out of town a mile or two to check out Horseshoe Bend. We paid $10 to get into the park (this is a city park so none of the federal passes work here). Lots of construction - new bathrooms, and I am guessing a visitor center is coming soon.

We found a parking spot big enough for the truck, hit the nice smelling bathrooms and followed the line of people on a 3/4 - 1 mile walk to the river. Once again, we saw and heard quite a blend of people from all over the world visiting the bend in the river.

As we neared the overlook, I was extremely surprised that you had pretty much free reign as to where you could view from. I expected everyone to be corralled into a small area with a handrail to keep folks from falling off the cliff, but apparently they still trust us tourists to keep away from the edge. If heights weren’t your thing you could squeeze in by the 30-40 feet of handrail, but plenty of people spread over several hundred feet of cliff edge. We found our spot to wait for sunset in an area without the handrail. I am not bothered at all by heights, or depths in this case, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. I respect that if you are careless you can fall, so we set up the tripod about 4 feet from the edge and waited.

We were in place about an hour before sunset, so I took a few snaps to see how things were looking. Things weren’t looking too good. To get the river and canyon area correctly exposed the sky was really washed out. And of course, to get the sky correct meant a really dark river. I didn’t want to spend a ton of time in post process to fix this, but then again I didn’t have my graduated ND filter with me and I didn’t really want to go back to the truck and get it. But, I reasoned, I’d probably not be back here anytime soon, if ever, so I didn’t want to miss making a great photo (the view is absolutely stunning!!) so I told Amy I would wait and see if the thick clouds would break apart so that we would have a sunset. The gray sky wasn’t going to be very impressive, nothing like a beautiful area and a bleak, white/gray sky. Not at all pretty.

We talked with some folks around us, and Amy found out a young couple next to us had traveled in from TN, so they talked a bit. Something that did kind of worry me was the fact that we were only 4 feet from the edge of a ridiculously high drop off and there were tons of people coming to the edge, getting really close to me and Amy and my tripod as they took a few photos. Like I said, I am not worried about me or her, but complete strangers brushing against us with this certain death fall right there did bother me. I pulled the tripod back another foot or two for a little extra cushion just in case. I didn’t think anyone would purposefully push us, but then again this day and age you never know. (obviously we didn’t get pushed over but it doesn’t hurt to be careful)

Okay, so the clouds broke up enough on the horizon so that it looked like we just might see the sun on the horizon. Soooo, I went back to get my filter. Halfway to the truck I sure didn’t remember the big hill and the sand and the crowds. I was getting pooped as I hurried. Truth be told I was sucking wind. I mentally kicked myself for not taking the ND but I made it to the truck and back to the overlook in time for the sun to just barely peak out from behind the clouds. I got my shot and made a pact with myself to make sure I had all my filters with me for the duration of this trip, and proud to say, I did not forget to take them again. Lesson learned.

However, the tripod is a different story….