Sunset on Observation Point - Mike Carr

A Failed Observation Point Sunset


Not all endeavors are going to end in success.

Nowhere in life have I found that sentiment to be more true than in photography. I can prepare all I want and put in the work required but come up empty handed. This summer, I set out to get a great sunset shot from atop Observation Point in Zion’s main canyon and—spoiler alert—it didn’t go the way I had hoped.

Each time I have company come into town, it throws me into guide mode. I spend the next couple of days reliving some of my personal highlights of the area all in an effort to impress my visitors and show them a good time. My little brother Logan was in town, so I had to pull out the big guns and make an impression. Naturally, I turned to Observation Point.

The plan was to get to the top of Observation Point right before sunset and then take in the setting sun from that incredible perch. I brought along my camera gear in the hopes of one of those incredible light shows you see where the clouds nearly light on fire with orange and pink hues. We came prepared with food and headlamps. Now it was just up to luck.

As a kid, my friends would always joke with me that I was part mountain goat. Hiking up steep mountainsides just came naturally to me. I could fly up a trail where most people would slowly drag themselves up. But as with all good things, that has come to an end. I’m the proud owner of a fully stocked “dad bod”. And though those steep hikes don’t melt out of my way anymore, I can still hold my own. Unfortunately, my 21-year-old brother is still as agile as I ever was, so keeping up wasn’t easy. He kind of made me look bad but in a nice way, taking breaks to allow me to catch up.

Like the fabled tortoise, I kept a steady pace and made good time to the top. Ever since I was a kid, there came to me a great sense of accomplishment upon reaching the top of a hike.It was perfect sitting there for sunset. A truly peaceful moment. The number of people continued to dwindle till we were the only ones left.

Like I had already told you, the sunset wasn’t what I was hoping for. It was an empty sky with no character or objects to catch the light. This wouldn’t be the picture I had been dreaming of, but it wasn’t a let down because the experience was what I really appreciated.

Just because things don’t go the way you hope or plan doesn’t mean they are failures or of no value. As we hiked down in the dark with our headlamps bobbing in the inky blackness, I just kept thinking to myself how cool this was. The canvas of stars above us and the total solitude were worth 1,000 sunsets to me.