We had four days and thousands of miles to cover. There was a huge storm coming in --- snow was a guarantee but we had no idea how cold it was going to get or what elevation the weather would drop to, we just knew it was going to be rugged. It was definitely a mission turned into an expedition.
We packed up the van Thursday night, just before Christmas, and we left Costa Mesa, California, at 5 pm, pointing toward Utah. We knew we wanted to hit Arizona, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce, Zion, and maybe a few other spots, but we had a lot of ground to cover no matter what.
We drove til 2 am, nine solid hours in the dead of night, heading east. When we got to Page, Arizona, the weather hadn’t come in too hard yet but the air was starting to feel thin and cold. We scouted Horse Shoe Bend for a minute and decided to cowboy camp on the side of the road, waiting for sunrise.
When the sun came up, we caught the light as it bathed the rocks, waking up the river. Horseshoe bend is kind of iconic, so using a super wide angle lens is good. I used my 16-35 L iii for most of my shots here. After we got our shots, we cut out for Denny’s, found a dam we hadn’t planned on coming across and stopped for a few more shots.
Since it was only two of us (and Rocky), we packed up, got a few more snacks for the road and pointed toward Zion.
Crossing in to Utah, it’s just a few miles from Page to Big Water. We turned North and found our way across the 89, through Mt. Carmel Junction toward Zion National Park. Again we scouted, not wanting to pick camp quite yet. So we drove around, hiking until sunset, trying to pick what would be tomorrow’s locations. We finally picked a spot, set up camp and already knew it was going to be one hell of a night.
The amount of rain estimated and snow predicated was enough to batten down the hatches, setting up a tarp over my tent for extra weather protection. By the middle of the night, it was pouring and you could feel snow on its way.
We woke up at sunrise on Saturday and Zion was dumping snow. At least three tourists had already crashed their cars and the main road was closed at (what we could see to be) two spots. But as they say, we’re chasing light and lines and the moody weather made it something magic. With the intense clouds and blue-grey skies, we did the same loop we did before, shooting for as long as we could.
By mid afternoon, we knew a blizzard was on its way so we packed up, leaving Zion just after the sun went down. Now we decided to point North East, across the Dixie National Forest and over to Bryce Canyon, about an hour north.
We expected dramatic landscapes and we got those, but we also found a deserted campsite, begging for a fire. We got a giant fire going, made some food and started to dig out our campsite. Over the course of the night, we planned a couple locations to find the next day, but it ended up snowing 2 – 3 feet that night. Not only did we not know what to do with that but it was 10 degrees with two to three feet of snow. By the next day, it was two to three feet of snow with MINUS 10 degrees.
The weather was unpredictable, our shoes froze, our laces froze and our cameras couldn’t come out. Thank god we had down insulation cause otherwise we would’ve froze.
In Zion we ended up hitting spots along the scenic route, nearby towns and the overlook trail. In Bryce we got to hike along the rim trail. Next time we’re going to check out Angel’s Landing and we’ll be sure to bring some more film and 200mm+ lens so that we can capture some tighter frames.
edited by Lindsey Bro(@lady_bro)