The hard edges of nature are defined in the desert landscape by the subtle and unexpected. My friend, Debbie and I, had planned a trip to Rattle Snake Arches in the Colorado National Monument during spring break of 1999. It’s a long hike to the arches on a good day. And, an easier one if you backpack the eve of the first night then walk into the Arches the next morning at sunrise. The road from Fruita crosses the bridge over the Colorado River before you arrive at the trailhead. We found ourselves at the base of the Colorado Plateau in the Monument just after midday before we hiked 7 miles to our camp in a sandy wash with Cottonwood guarding the edges of its banks. The wind howled through the cool desert night. It was a restless sleep for sure. We woke well before sunrise to hike an additional 3 miles up the steep sandstone mountain side to Rattlesnake Arches. The skies were bluebird clear. The sight of the Arch I of IX was before as the sun rose. Directly to the view down into the arch to the right stood a lone Pinon Pine having relentlessly formed a purchase in a sandstone crack at the base of a cliff. What nurturance did it derive from the stone was beyond my sense of the tree’s predicament. None-the-less, it stood strong and formidable moorings. It was it stark existence, shadow against the rock and the rock itself that caught my eye. A 35mm Nikon F4 with 28mm Nikkor Lens with an F-Stop set at f22 and shutter speed at 1/30th of a second was used to capture the tree against the rock.

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