Sunday, May 30, 2010

Natural Arch vs. Gravity (Gravity Wins)

I love natural arches. Whether they're residents of Arches National Park in Utah or right here in Colorado's Western Slope canyon country, they're just plain fascinating. Yet, despite the incredible length of time it took wind, rain and ice to carve out these natural frames from the landscape, those same forces will eventually weaken these structures and send them tumbling down. Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, the world's longest span, has been in danger of collapsing for the last few years, so the National Park Service has cordoned it off at what is perceived to be a safe distance.

Unfortunately, an arch in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park collapsed recently, as this story in the L.A. Times details: LINK

It's a bummer, but these things happen. According to the story, it appears natural forces led to its collapse, and not some "hey, watch this!" moron climbing on it.

Addendum: The accompanying photo (click to enlarge) is of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I showed up at the trailhead for the short hike after an overnight snowstorm, and was disappointed to see one other car in the parking lot. I didn't mind the prospect of sharing the morning with another photographer, but I was worried that the fresh snow would show footprints of some careless wanderer. I didn't want footprints in my photos! Lit by my headlamp, I followed the footprints all the way to the arch, and was pleasantly surprised that they continued right past it. Phew! That was a close one! Mesa Arch barely juts out from the canyon wall from which it was carved, and my guess is the person never even knew they passed it. I never saw another soul that morning, and the barely discernible critter prints below the arch didn't bother me at all.

1 comment:

Meg said...

Gorgeous photo (as always)! I keep meaning to get a hold of you when I'm in Colorado and ask if you'll take me on a photography trip...