Mesa Sun: An iconic arch in Canyonlands

Mesa Arch

The world held its breath and was utterly quiet while I waited at Mesa Arch. The moment just before the sun breaks the horizon is always a magical, yet tense, moment and breaths are usually held. There is a certain stillness just before that moment; a sense of anticipation, a sense of wonder and awe, and the dual senses of solemnness and joy, all rolled into one.

The first ray of light peaked out, at first tentatively, but quickly followed by conviction. The world was even quieter than before, it that was at all possible. Without any further prelude the sun roared over the horizon and its jubilant rays spread everywhere, bringing light and life to the day. The world let out its collective breath and the day had now well and true begun.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, glowed brightly as it too celebrated the sun’s arrival, liberating it from the dark of the night. The valley, far below, basked in the dawn’s early light, and began to soak in the what warmth it could from the cold winter day, for it was well below zero when this photograph was made. Of course, it isn’t the cold that proves difficult. It is hiking out to the arch well before dawn, then standing there waiting for the sun to rise. You might have heard it said that it is always darkest before dawn, and I can assure you that it is always coldest before dawn, too. There was a slight breeze; not enough to be much of a bother, but enough to get your attention. Still, knowing what was going to happen made my heart race.

As the sun rose higher and began to clear the arch, the warm dawn glow faded, but the memory of that amazing sunrise will live on forever.

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