My best bud and fellow photographer Jeremey Tripp and I always seem to get ourselves into ridiculous situations on our photo safaris. Photographing in the wild certainly has its dangers and we’re beginning to amass quite a collection of stories that so far, we’re both able to laugh about now. Over the 4th of July weekend, we decided to photograph ‘The Wave,’ inside Vermillion National Park. Calling it a park however is deceiving, for me, that congers a feeling of innocuousness. The wave is in the middle of nowhere, AZ accessed by a 12-mile dirt road that starts in Utah off route 89, then a trail-less hour and a half hike through and around mountains. Normal people would have a topographical map provided by the state upon obtaining a required permit. How could I say this inconspicuously…we didn’t have a map? 20 people are allowed into the wave per day worldwide and most of the permits are snapped up online months in advance. So, we had to hike over a mountain on the south end to avoid seeing anyone. When the sun started to set, we decided to leave the way you’re supposed to enter (knowing the way we came in was impossible in the dark), except we had no idea where that was. We did have a GPS and knew exactly where our truck was, but unfortunately the GPS could not tell us how to circumnavigate the huge ravine separating us. We hiked and bouldered lost in the dark for 3 1/2 hrs, out of water and with the warnings in the parking lot to ‘beware of rattlesnakes and mountain lions’ securely etched in our minds. We armed ourselves with camera flashes for defense against mountain lions and resigned ourselves to the fact that, if bit by a snake, we were pretty much up a creek. Entirely our own fault I realize, and at some point I think God just shook His head and decided to bail out a couple boneheads—again! A couple highlights:
-Don’t ever take a Bureau of Land Management road in Arizona, no matter how good a shortcut it looks like unless you too would like $779 of damage to the underside of your vehicle!
-The wind would pick up intermittently and one gust blew over Jeremey’s tripod and cracked his $6,000 camera down the middle.
-Jeremey slipped while bouldering and fell on a cactus.
-Total time of strenuous hiking without water, 5 1/2 hours. Yes, bring more water than you think you need to the desert!-We didn’t see a single soul the entire time! A wondrous place and absolute shooting paradise!