My cousin and I have been planning a camping trip through Bryce Canyon National Park and other locations in southern Utah for over a year with Bryce being our first stop. I wasn’t sure what Dark Sky was until my cousins shared that we would be staying somewhere with we could enjoy it. She told me to look this up online and when I did it surprised me. On my vision board is a photo of the Milky Way taken on the new moon at Dark Sky. It was something that I have been wanting to witness but was not sure the name or where to see this. Also, I have photos of Utah with the word Travel over the top.
When she picked me up on August 28th at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, NV we witnessed not one but three rainbows. Unfortunately I didn’t capture the rainbows that appeared when I arrived but we both felt this was a good sign for our trip.
The first night was spent in a hotel in Cedar City and in the morning we traveled to Bryce Canyon National Park. When we checked in at Bryce they weren’t sure if there were any open tent areas. We rode around and the first three they thought were still open had been taken. It is a first come first serve area so we continued on and found the perfect spot.
After setting up our tent and camping area we went to the visitor center to see what events were occurring during our stay. They shared that Bryce had just received it’s International Dark Sky certificate and they were going to have a astrophotography walk on Saturday night. It was Thursday, we were told to arrive by 8 am on Saturday morning to request one of twenty tickets to reserve our spot. I had my camera and a couple of camera lenses, my cousin was using her cell phone. My plan was to arrive at 7:30 am and wait for them to open so we could be the first in line.
Saturday morning came and we arrived at the building at 8:01 am. We went straight to the counter and were given two tickets. I spoke with the ranger to ensure that I would be able to take the hike slowly as my atrial fibrillation causes me to slow down at times. He said it would be a slow pace and there would be three stops along the way to take photos. Luckily I had purchased a small tripod in case it was needed – it would be on this venture.
Saturday we hiked along some of the trails, then I took a nap to prepare for the evening’s adventure scheduled from 8 – midnight. My camera batteries were charged and at 7:30 pm we headed over ready for whatever happened.
This is a picture of the trail we would walk on once darkness set in. As you can see we had quite a way to hike before setting up on below on the other side of the formation. Our group stood at the top getting to know one another and our photography experience. We were amateurs to experienced photographers coming together to share an experience.
This picture of the sun setting and in the center behind the distant trees you may notice the smoke from the forest fire that was active in Bryce Canyon during our visit.
We didn’t actually start walking into the canyon until around 9 and found our way to the perfect sight as darkness was setting in and the stars were filling the sky. What a beautiful sight. An amateur with my camera, I wasn’t expecting too much but listened to instructions and was ready for any assistance our group members wanted to provide.
Not only did I capture the Milky Way and the Hoodoos but even captured a shooting star or two throughout our time in the canyon.
We were told to take at least five of the same shot so we could stack them later but I am still not quite sure what that means. I am sure someone has posted on YouTube exactly how to do this and I’ll check it out when there is time.
Being in nature with a dark sky filled with planets and stars is amazing. The night lights up with so many stars you can actually see the paths you are walking on however we did use head lamps and flashlights – mainly with red filters – to make adjustments to our cameras. Here are some more shots taken during out walk.
As the night sky darkened the stars did their magic and we were in awe.
If we could be aware of our effect on Mother Earth and the Universe by dimming street lights, turning off lights that are not being used in buildings and homes, changing the way the lights filter into the night, and allowing more areas to be certified as Dark Sky more people would witness this amazing natural event. Isn’t it time to realize how insignificant petty arguments, obsession with material possessions, and other things and focus on all of the beauty in the world. Life is short in the grand scheme of things and there is so much to enjoy. We should spend more time in nature and more time lifting one another.
While we are here living life on this planet we can take action to save this beautiful planet for ourselves and generations to come. Being with this big dark sky made me feel small and insignificant, yet, it also made me feel large, energized and worthy of being in the midst of all this beauty. I don’t want a trip to Mars and wouldn’t want to live on another planet – Earth is my home and we all need to figure out a way to live here peacefully with everyone else who shares our home.
This year I have been able to visit California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and have seen several sights that have been on my board to either see for the first time or see again. I will continue to share stories and photos of my trip and let you know if they were on my vision board or written in my journal. Nine days of traveling disconnected from internet, cell, television for the majority of that time was wonderful!
If you are ever in Utah do yourself a favor and visit Bryce Canyon National Park. You will not regret it.
My questions to you is:
Do you have a vision of something you want to see or do? Do you have a vision board placed where you can see it daily? Or, have you written down your dreams in your journal? Please feel free to share your experiences.
Light and Love!