Ah, good old Mesa Arch. In Arches National Park where it belongs? No, in Canyonlands National Park. But once you get your bearings it is quite the nice place. I found the parking area for the trail without any problem but in the dark of pre-dawn I ended up losing the trail. Luckily I saw a few people who had not lost the trail and I made my way to the arch. When I arrived at the arch I was taken back by the size of it, you simply are not prepared for how big these things are! The other thing you will be surprised about? The number of photographers who gather to take this one shot.
Don’t get me wrong, the elements have all aligned here perfectly for a great shot. But the number of photographers? Ridiculous. Photographers come from across the sea for this shot, not everyone spoke English. I made it into the first row of photographers about 10 feet back from the arch. Pretty sure I was the last one to squeeze in. A second and third row ended up forming behind the first row. And where people don’t get what they want there always ends up being tension.
A lady from the second row asked me if I spoke English and then proceeded to question why the first row was so close and blocking the view for the rest of everyone. I stammered something about simply lining up where the line had already formed. Then the Swedish gentleman next to me spoke up in broken English and told the lady that this was the spot to line up, all the workshops line up here, and we got here earlier so we got to line up in the right spot. She did not quite accept that it was she who was late and in the wrong spot.
Then things got worse when a busload of Chinese tourists arrived at the arch. One young woman decided to ignore the “Stay Off The Arch” sign and climbed the arch for picture. All the photographers in chorus yelled at her to get off the arch and luckily she complied. Honestly, I got my shots and got the heck away from the whole scene. Other photographers are bad enough, knowing that your ultimate shot will be shared with others… But tourists are the worst, anyone holding up an iPad to take a picture just gets under my skin. I like quiet areas, and this was far from it. I suppose that is the problem with bucket list photographs, everyone wants them, even the tourists with iPads.
So I left and drove to a few other overlooks, taking in the beautiful morning. It was much quieter and lonelier, just what I needed. The pictures weren’t as good though, so I guess you get what you pay for. Luckily even “not as good” pictures are still really nice when surrounded by such beauty. I ended up getting one of my favorite images from the trip!