November 16, 2014

24,323 Steps

Stone Tapestry - Zion National Park

24,323 steps. That's the total my Health App registered after a long meandering 11-mile trek through the back country of the upper east side of Zion National Park. An extensive expanse of high altitude slickrock and forests, I'd "discovered" the area a year earlier while hiking high atop a neighboring canyon. The inspiring views hinted at tantalizing photographic opportunities. A careful study of the topography suggested the access route which was generously confirmed by a group of bighorn sheep pensively watching me (intruder!) approach the steep partially obscured gateway.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the hike, I had pretty high expectations for scouting photographic opportunities which proved elusive. It wasn't until step 21,977 (yes, I checked) that I came upon a section of water worn sandstone with these delicious time weathered patterns. The patterns are present throughout Zion's high country but finding such a richly colored continuous tapestry is rare. And, at step 21,977, felt especially gratifying.

Thankfully, returning with my view camera to make a film image will require far fewer steps.

UPDATE: Making the image with the view camera required 9,343 steps.


Its beauty stirs the imagination, and I wonder if the last refuge of all that is truly wild lies not on earth but in light.

Ellen Meloy