Hickman Natural Bridge at Night

May 12, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Fruita ViewFruita ViewFruita settlement and the cliffs of Capitol Reef


I left the campground in Fruita at Capitol Reef National Park late on an April afternoon, and headed for the parking lot at the trail head for Hickman Natural Bridge. I planned on hiking up to the grand arch to photograph it under the night sky. I had several flashlights for light painting, and hoped to find a point of view centering the North Star to get a tunnel effect from the star trails above the bridge. 


The trail leads up along the Fremont River for a bit, then heads uphill

Capitol SunsetCapitol SunsetSunset on the cliffs of Capitol Reef, the Fremont River below seen from near Hickman Natural Bridge.

into the canyon that leads up to the bridge at its head. I took the long way around the loop that goes around and under the bridge so I could catch the sunset from the trail where it overlooks the Fremont River Valley and the Fruita Orchards.

It was a grand sunset,  with the last rays lighting up the cliffs above the river.


Pyramid at SunsetPyramid at SunsetPectal's pyramid at sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

I had just enough time to catch a shot of Pectal's Pyramid on my way back around the trail to the bridge.

The last rays faded from the rock faces, and I ventured down to the area east and below the bridge





Hickman Natural BridgeHickman Natural BridgeHickman Natural Bridge in Capitol Reef National Park

Setting up the tripod and camera before dark gave me a clue as to where I'd be standing later. After dark, I didn't want to be stumbling about over the ledges and rocks without at least a bit of fore knowledge.




I sat down under the massive arch of stone and enjoyed a cup of tea

Hickman Natural Bridge 3Hickman Natural Bridge 3View from the other side of Hickman Natural Bridge

while waiting for the stars to come out. Soon, I could make out Orion's Belt and the Big Dipper; it was time to break out the flashlights and do some light painting.



Star Bridge 2Star Bridge 2Hickman Natural Bridge, with light painting and star trails, Capitol Reef National Park

I set up first down below the bridge, facing west. Here's one of the finished photos, it's made up of about twenty 30 second exposures to make the star trails, and one shot for the light painting, all stacked in Photoshop.




Below is the finished shot from up under the bridge, taken towards the North Star. I left the jet trails in this one, I usually take them out, but in this case it seemed to work and add something to the painting.

Star BridgeStar BridgeHickman Natural Bridge, with light painting and star trails, Capitol Reef National Park


Stars and CliffsStars and Cliffs

I was having way too much fun, taking dozens of shots, but soon realized I still had over an hours walk down to the trail head in the dark, so packed up the gear and headed downhill. Here's a shot of a cliff and stars just above the bridge area.



On the way down the small canyon below the bridge,there's a couple of Light CaveLight CaveLight painting of cave on the trail to Hickman Natural Bridge smaller bridges of rock running across the stream bed. I couldn't resist stopping and playing around with the lights in the little caves cut in the rock. Here's one of the shots I took with lights set back in the cave, and the stars above.




This was the last shot I took, of Pectal's Pyramid in silhouette against the air glow to the south.  It looked good in the viewer on the camera, but not so much now :) After I got back to camp, I realized I must have dropped the cable remote switch for the camera at this spot, it was the last time I remembered using it, and it wasn't to be found in the pack.


I went by the Visitor Center the next day and filed a lost and found report with the friendly Ranger there, and lo and behold, an hour later she called me and said another Ranger had brought it in. I dropped by on my way out of the Park and retrieved it. A hearty thanks to the kind folks who work in Capitol Reef, a great place to visit, wonderful hikes, and astounding scenery. Capitol Reef Visitor CenterCapitol Reef Visitor Center


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