image: buckskin gulch
image © Robert Luis Chavez

The Magic Light... 11" x 14" fine print $325.00
Bounce light in the Buckskin Gulch.


Much of the light and phenomona in the Buckskin Gulch just has to be experienced, it can't be easily reproduced in a photograph. You turn a corner and a shaft of light fills a room with soft directional light, like God's stage lighting. In another corner, sunlight reflects off small pools of water while water skeeters send rippled reflections across the canyon wall. The narrow slot of the canyon only allows the effect to last a few minutes in any one place as the sun moves through the sky.

In places the slot opens up and then closes right back, like going in and out of a tunnel. The slot opens again, my eyes are blasted by the sunlight and my body assaulted with a rush of 95 degree air. Just ten feet in front of me is a hummingbird, zig zagging and picking off large insects one after another. I soon discover what the hummer is eating when a deer fly bites me on the calf. I keep going and in ten or fifteen seconds I'm back in the coolness of the narrows. I walked and photographed the Buckskin Gulch for hours like this, from discovery to discovery, reveling in the rarely seen beauty.


On the third day of our hike we broke camp and continued down the Paria to many more discoveries. One thing worth talking about is the quicksand on the Paria River. You'll find it especially in the wettest sand on the inside of the rivers turns. The quicksand is semi-solid so you can walk out on it before you realize it. Usually you're walking on the wet sand along the sides of the river when you notice the ground feels gelatinous or spongy and is sending out ripples like water. Naturally you stop to observe the phenomenon and that's when you start sinking, but not very fast, and I found if I kept moving I almost always walked out of it.