See: Time is Irrelevant: Winter in Southern Utah

Winter in Bryce Canyon Utah

Bryce Canyon under a blanket of fresh snow.

This post comes from a journal entry written after a winter trip through southern Utah. Taken in January 2008, the trip was one of my most visually compelling: Navigating southwestern snowstorms, witnessing my breath linger across Canyonlands cliffs and seeing the contrast of white on red soil in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. I was witnessing a landscape I had fallen in love with during summer heat now resting beneath delicate blankets of the whitest snow and crystallized waterfalls. As you’ll find, it also left me thinking about time – how much we depend on it yet how insignificant it truly becomes when we walk away and focus on the experience.

Enjoy, vas-y fille.

Time is Irrelevant

Sunset outside Zion National Park

Outside Zion National Park

Sunset in the desert remains one of my favorite experiences. It’s a ceremony I become a participant of in no other place except there. Always, when it begins, the hairs on my arm rise on end. Of one particularly memorable evening I wrote:

Around me the earth pauses, air baited, breath still. Crows cease calls and settle flights. Mule deer twist their felted ears. Even the wind halts its frenetic search.

The corners of my eyes turn to soft velvet and my own breath slows on intake. I find myself leaning in as, I imagine, the coyotes and the jackrabbits, the ravens and the rattlesnakes. We follow the final arc of the sun’s orb as it sinks beneath the covers of the western flank. With solemn reverence it severs true from the eastern horizon, that final brilliance a token herald to the pregnancy of the day. The formal permission for all things night to hasten their ascent and all things day to soon give their leave.

Stand at a cliff’s edge in the Canyonlands maze; gaze across its plateaus, its

Sunset in Zion National Park

Sunset in Zion National Park

rivers and their valley offspring. Snowshoe through Bryce Canyon; run your hand down a hoodoo in the Great Cathedral or the Queen’s Court. Step from your car at the Waterpocket Fold; gaze west then east at 7,000 feet of mismatched sandstone. The seasons, the geology, the animals, the plant life even the people that enrich the history all weave together in the desert wilderness.

Sudden ecological turmoil is threaded with slow erosion and constant evolution becoming one vast landscape that defies definition by the movement of a minute hand or the passage of millenia. It becomes familiar only through a collection of experiences rather than moments: A balanced slab of rock breaking from its support; Anasazi drawing the success of a harvest; an owl hunting. Each event holds space within it’s own occurrence yet lingers so explicitly into the next: The shattered stone on the floor of the ravine; a warn trail leading to a sheltered wall; a rabbit’s footprints suddenly gone.

One by one the events build until time is nothing but a simple case of mistaken identity.

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About Jonna

Created for curiosity. View all posts by Jonna

6 responses to “See: Time is Irrelevant: Winter in Southern Utah

  • Martin

    Beautiful pictures. I still need to get out to Zion. I love sunsets in the desert. Joshua Tree NP in California always provides good ones.

    • Jonna

      Same reaction in JTree – stunning. And they seem to last forever, just lingering on. Bryce is about 9,000 ft elevation so the snow level is a little higher than what you’ll experience in Zion. The two parks are so distinct in their landscape.
      The Black Mountains have some incredible sunsets as well – I caught them earlier this year when the fires were raging near Santa Barbara.

      • Chris

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  • Jared

    Very well put! I think we try to figure out how things come to be so often that we forget to just slow down and enjoy the moment and the scene nature has put before us. I really like this post.

    • Nozomu

      Ha Long Bay Hotel located about 100m from the sea shore, suendurord by magnificent natural landscape is a three stars international hotel. Guest satisfaction is guaranteed based on reasonably priced room rates and excellent service from well trained staff

  • andyandvickie

    Bryce covered in snow is beautiful. I have some shots here: http://andyandvickie.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/bryce-canyon-part-ii/

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