When I first visited Cathedral Gorge over a year ago, it was a hot October that seemed to discourage many of the visitors. Few ventured beyond the areas within driving distance, and even those camping seemed to stay near their camp sites. I took my 4x5 Toyo 45G (the camera I was using at the time) and hiked a miles long trail that took me along the base of the Gorge's stunning formations eroded in bentonite clay. But the trail kept hikers from getting too close to the of the park, and I found the experience unsatisfying, as evidenced by the lackluster photographs that I took.
This visit was different. Rather than an overheated October, I faced an unexpectedly wet April. I left Las Vegas knowing that rain was forecast, but hoping for clear skies. Instead dark clouds loomed as I drove along Highway 93 to the Gorge.
After setting up my campsite I grabbed my Green Monster 8x10, returned to a spot I noted while driving in, and began shooting. I hadn't taken more than two shots before feeling raindrops (though good shots they were). After stowing my gear back in my car, I retreated to a nearby gas station and ate lunch while looking out the window at the rain, and listening to the locals complain about the weather.
The next day was touch and go – light rain, heavy rain, no rain with very soft light. During those periods of no rain I was able, in a way that I hadn't during my first visit, to satisfyingly explore Cathedral Gorge. Not only did I walk the base areas but also some of the trails above. Often I had to break down my equipment and retreat to my car, but the rain was inconsistent enough that I was able to keep shooting. Because of the weather there were few visitors, and I left early the next morning with only two sheets of film unexposed.
I think I'll be back again soon.