We have all heard the phrase but, you have not seen nor felt its literal meaning until you have set foot in this park. What a gem! It is located just a little over an hour north of Las Vegas near a town named Overton. On a map, this park looks very navigable as it has only a couple of main roads in and out. Now that’s on paper, but in reality, the enormity of what it covers can only be experienced by parking your vehicle and actually setting foot on one of many trails. There is Balancing Rock, Elephant Rock, just to name a few of the many more such sedimentary formations. I mention this because I was very happy with my choice of going with an experienced photo guide. Without his insight and direction, our group would have definitely missed many unique and mind-boggling beautiful vistas.
Our sensei for this 2 day adventure was Joe Rossbach. He is a truly gifted photographer who has traveled and explored this park many times. Joe took us down, around and over numerous rocks and paths until we could visualize what he saw. The sky was very dramatic, with rain clouds building in the distance. Waiting like hyenas for their prey to be exposed, we were rewarded with subtle but very specific light. We could just sit and be in awe of the natural beauty that was in front of us all. Our group was guided to a small slot canyon, which I for one, would have never found nor been able to maneuver through.
During the two rewarding days spent on this trip, I was reminded of how special it is to be willing to open one’s visual and personal senses to the not so obvious path. By taking the one less traveled, I learned a very crucial lesson…. don’t just seek out a map but find a time proven reliable guide!!!
When I prepare to go on a photo workshop, a lot of things pop into my head. Foremost for me, it is about putting my trust into the hands of almost complete strangers. These instructors hopefully will embrace and nurture this trust. They will not only be my guide and compass but, also teach by example. When far from civilization they have to become my sole “go to” medical guys, and more important, social workers to a bunch of seemingly needy adults. Being a weather predictor, with a little help from the gods, is also an excellent work related skill, although I for one would probably pay extra for the latter.
The three faces of Olympic NP that I encountered on my photo trip with Joe Rossbach and Ian Plant… two of the best social workers (a.k.a.photographers) in the business… were the beach,mountains and rainforest. ONP was so diverse from parks I had visited in the past that, it was easy to get distracted. I learned early on if you keep an open mind and invest 100% of yourself, the returns can be very rewarding.
My biggest obstacle I thought, upon viewing photos from the park, was the rainforest. At first sight, the word, busy and chaotic came to mind. But after immersing myself in the many different floras and types of vegetation, I found I could make sense of the patterns and rhythms of this seemingly prehistoric landscape. I am still amazed and impressed by how this environment can mold maple trees into curved frames for photo compositions. Getting around and setting up equipment can be a challenge. The end product, when you press the shutter, is instant. Seeing your creation on the screen, you can almost forget the “rain” in rainforest.
The next face in this trilogy was the mountains. Luckily we were able to drive up to Hurricane Ridge, which by its name is indicative of wind,rain and unpredictable weather. Here is where the “weather gods”, and my willingness to pay extra comes to mind. My ascent was met with, dare I say again, “rain” and clouds. But as we reached the peak, the rewards for waiting were jaw dropping. Clouds were now above and below in the valley. The sun broke through and painted the peaks in golds and rust. I could not stop taking photos. When I did pause, the beauty was breathtaking. My final parting shot, while driving down the pass, was a small black bear that was feeding on the hillside. Future note to self… make sure not to block a bear’s exit when he wants to cross the road!
The third face in this journey was “the beaches”. Our group saw many beaches,from the easily accessible to the more rugged and somewhat challenging. Sea stacks and more sea stacks came in every shape and size. Some were hidden in shadows and mist, only to be revealed by long exposures. Others presented gaps and holes to let rays of the setting sun come through. I found out early on that, tides control access to these wondrous places. The tides also can hamper a quick exit. Tidal pools were deceptively inviting. While many starfish and anemones invited us to come closer, they remained protected by very slippery and jagged rocks.
There was a final face to this journey. It was the transition of a complete stranger who, by the end, became a true companion. I was blessed to be partnered with someone who I could exchange ideas,thoughts and creative visions. Someone whose voice and face will resonate with me throughout my future journeys. What adventure wouldn’t be more enriched than one that is blessed by the face of true friendship.
Link to Olympic pt.2.