Story Behind the Image "Delicate Arch"

They say a picture is worth a thousand words….. sometimes the story behind the image is as unique as the image itself. My first trip to Arches NP was in 2004. At the time my Mom was a IV Nurse. Every year the IV Nurses Society ( their professional organization) would have a conference. This year it was in Salt Lake City, UT. We used this conference every year as our family vacation. I would use this time to get some shooting done and we would take a month and explore. What made this trip even more unique was the face that I had been in Physical Therapy for over a year to learn how to walk again after being diagnosed with MS. At this point I was walking again with a cane.

Months ahead of time I knew we were going to go to Arches National Park. I set a goal for myself that I would walk to see Delicate Arch come hell or high water. When we got there I found out it was a 1.5 mile hike up hill. So I figured that OK just pace yourself take breaks when I can and all will be good.
I remember like yesterday this story. About half way up to Delicate Arch I was chit chatting with a park ranger. I was starting to feel my legs. I jokingly commented “So how much farther will I can keel over and die?” I figured I would get a laugh, a smile, or at the least a your half way there response. The response I got was “ I’m only taking one body off this rock today so if you plan on dyeing do it somewhere else”. Excuse me?! Then he tells me I guess you haven’t been listening to my radio we have a dead body up at the arch.

Once we got closer to the Arch I remember seeing a chopper flying over head trying to find a place to land which for anyone who has been up to the arch knows that’s no easy task. Once we got up to the “bowl” at the arch right up on the rim there was a tarp draped. On our way up we passed two individuals from somewhere in the middle east dressed in suits and ties which I thought was really odd attire. It was May and temps were in the 80”s This tid bit of information would become even stranger the next day. I went to the edge of the bowl and took a whole roll of Kodak E100 slides doing everything I could to not get the “scene” in the image. Then I started back down. I got a few steps and knew my parents who were waiting on me had probably seen the chopper and were probably flipping out. So I took 1 image of the chopper which had landed and the black bag next to it because I knew my parents were not going to believe me if I told them!

I made it back down and as I guessed they (my parents) didn’t believe me until I showed them the one picture of the chopper. We finished our day at Arches and the next day drove towards Idaho. My parents stopped at a mall in Boise so my Mom could get her hair done before her conference started. Turns out the person from Delicate Arch was an FBI agent and was from Boise. The local paper said the man was supose to be in Washington DC at meetings. I remember telling the stylist that the man weight in at 300 pounds if not more. In one of the most beautiful settings in the country without water, or a camera which seemed odd. Then I remembered the two guys in a suit, which just came across as very very strange.

I know everyone always ask’s so did you keep the image of the chopper and bag? The answer is no I did not. That is not something I wanted to keep and it was deleted out of respect to everyone involved. Below is one of those images from Delicate Arch taken from the edge of the Bowl. So there you have it the story behind the image. Not every image has a story like this but the ones that do have a story I will never forget. Sometimes the story behind an image is better then the image itself.