September 20, 2013

Sunset at Plateau Point

From camp I looked at the sky and it didn't look too promising. My feet were sore, my back was sore. We'd already been out to Plateau Point that morning. I was happy to just fire up the stove and brew some tea and go to bed. But...what if I missed something? So I dragged my boots on and grabbed my camera and a liter of water and started walking .

It's a mile and half from Indian Garden to Plateau Point, or so the sign says. I figured it would take me maybe thirty minutes, but when I cleared the campground and the canyon opened up, I realized the sky had played a trick on me. It wasn't just good, it was you-won't-ever-forget-this good. I started running, worried I wouldn't make it in time. I started thinking about my camera settings: switch to manual focus, fix the white balance so it doesn't drift. Lock the exposure.

The rocks along the upper rim were blazing but the shadows were climbing fast. I really wanted a video from the Point, something special. Way behind schedule. I pushed hard across the Tonto Plateau. Finally reached the overlook. Glorious view, but I was most definitely not alone. Lots of people out tonight for the sunset, many of them not just taking pictures but also shrewdly firing up stoves to cook tea plus dinner amidst the spectacle.

Too many people for me, to be honest. I shot a panorama of the Inner Gorge, but in every frame I was taking pictures of other people taking pictures of me. Not what I wanted. So I backed away from the edge and ran back about 100 yards, to a quiet rise where I was alone. When I turned again, the north rim was blood red, colors too vibrant to be real, indigo sky and white piercing clouds.

The sight is almost too intimidating to lift the camera. Andy don't blow it, I think.

Funny. From this perspective, you can't see the immense gaping drop of the Inner Gorge, the great ribbon of the Colorado, muddy from all the rains, all of it just a handful of steps away. It's right there, I promise. You just can't see it. When I photograph Grand Canyon I feel like a mute preacher trying to spread the word. Here! I want to shout. It's right here! But there's just no way to truly capture it.

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow



  1. Dan Conger says:

    What a gorgeous shot … I didn’t get out camping one time this season. Sigh. But, getting married and heading out for a Costa Rica honeymoon was awesome, so I can’t complain.

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