So today, we have finished Bryce Canyon, and are headed onto Navaho land, to photograph Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. It's been a whirlwind trip, from Colorado to Wyoming, then Idaho, Nevada and Utah. We've covered over 6200 miles so far, and things are going along really well!
A big part of our trip is making sure that we are good stewards of the land we visit. While it is tempting for photographers, or any visitors really, to run around and get into hard to reach places, it is key that you make sure you are not damaging the fragile ecosystem you are enjoying. Some places are very delicate, and can be forever harmed by a simple touch. Take Florida's reefs, for instance. The oils on your skin can kill the reef, and imagine is everyone touched it! Some places it is simply dangerous to you to go off trail and wander. Take Bryce Canyon, for example. While the hoodoos look strong and stable, some of them are undercut rock formations, that only look solid from above, and are hollow below. Anytime we are out shooting in our parks, we make sure to ask where we can and cannot go. Usually, there is a ranger accompanying us, so we have someone making sure we don't do anything stupid. And in all of our photos, while they may look precarious, we have made sure that we are not putting anyone (myself included) at risk, nor will our activities damage anything.
Another very important part of visiting our parks is making sure you are actually prepared for the visit. Wear shoes appropriate to the terrain. Spike heels are NOT meant for hiking. And make sure you bring whatever supplies you need. Our ranger at Bryce was telling us that there are a couple of rescues that happen every week, because people are not prepared for the hike they embark on. Lots of times, it's that they wore bad shoes. Flip flops are also not suitable hiking attire at Bryce, or any other serious trail. While they are great for beach hikes, they do not afford you any protection in rocky terrain or support for all the climbing you will do.
Visiting out parks and seeing all the amazing things our nation has to offer is a wonderful thing. But please, listen to your rangers. They are there to help make sure you stay safe, and that the beauty you are enjoying is around for future generations to enjoy as well. They are not boring killjoys, but rather guardians to be respected. So when you see a ranger, thank them for their service, and don't give them any crap. =)