National Geographic : 1928 Jun
PHOTOGRAPHING MARVELS OF THE WEST IN COLORS color pictures in the NATIONAL GEO GRAPHIC MAGAZINE, realize the great diffi culty experienced in securing the originals. Natural-color plates mark the greatest ad vance in photography in fifty years; but color photography is still in its infancy. Not only does it require from 60 to Ioo times the length of exposure of an ordi nary photographic plate, precluding all motion work, but the fact that the plate is sensitive to all colors, red included,.makes it extremely difficult to handle. The color pictures in this issue repre sent many weeks of tramping along can yon rims and exploring canyon depths, and thousands of miles of travel over moun tain ranges and across inhospitable desert wastes, during a period of many years, to discover suitable subjects. The Grand Canyon of Arizona has been visited many times since my first trip, thirty years ago. I have camped beside the muddy Colorado at its bottom, walked down nearly all of its trails on both sides, followed the Tonto Trail over its plateaus, and walked hundreds of miles along its rim, from the old deserted Hance Trail on the east to the famous Bass Trail on the west (see Color Plates II, III, IV, V, and VI). MUNCHAUSENS OF THE GRAND CANYON Hance and Bass, it will be recalled, prided themselves on being the two great est prevaricators that ever lived in Ari zona. John Hance once said to me: "You know, there are only three real liars at the Grand Canyon; I am one of them and Bass is the other two." Hance said he once owned a fine Ara bian horse that had a record for jumping. He believed that if he could find a suitable take-off the horse could leap the Grand Canyon. Finally a trial was made. When they reached the edge, the horse made a tremendous leap, but when halfway across, the rider saw his mount wasn't going to make it; so he tried to turn around and come back, but they fell 5,000 feet, and Hance added, "Only presence of mind saved my life, for I stepped off the horse's back just before we struck the bottom." Hance repeatedly told us not to believe the erosion theory of the formation of the canyon, for "it was all bunk"; he and his partner, years ago, dug it and dumped the dirt where the San Francisco peaks are now located. The Great American Desert, which com prised most of the country west of Colo rado in our geographies forty years ago, has shrunk in successive editions until it now occupies a comparatively small area on each side of the Colorado River, in Arizona and California, and extends north into southern Utah. No other equal area in the whole world compares with this sec tion in varied and gorgeous colors. It is bounded on the east by the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert country, on the north by the "flaming canyons and jeweled amphitheaters of southern Utah." My most strenuous trip in Zion National Park was the all-day climb up the old Mormon Trail to Observation Point, on the east rim. During this trip, partly on horseback and partly on foot, we were constantly encouraged by being shown where this or that horse had slipped off into the depths below. The view of Zion from a new trail to the west rim was taken before the trail was completed and it still provided many thrills (see Color Plates IX and XI). Bryce Temple, in a more beautifully colored environment than any Grecian temple could ever boast, is one of the out standing formations of Bryce Canyon. The author spent an entire day securing the autochrome, walking and climbing over a dozen miles, scaling almost perpen dicular ridges to obtain the most effective view, and finally, in mid-afternoon, just the viewpoint desired was attained. It happened to be the summit of a hogback, nearly 500 feet above the floor of the can yon, which had been climbed once before the same day. The camera was a half mile from the temple and some 300 feet below, with a 5oo-foot gorge between. After a half-hour wait for the right light, the deed was done (see Color Plate XXII). The desert flower and cactus pictures (Color Plates XIV, XV, XVI, and XVII) are the results of a thousand miles of rambles afoot and by camp car, up and down the Colorado and Mohave deserts, with Palm Springs, that incomparable oasis in the desert, as a base. During one of these picture trips I nearly lost my life in a Death Valley sandstorm. The man just behind me was smothered to death. The Rocky Mountain National Park pictures (Color Plates VI, VII, and VIII) represent years of exploration of its most inaccessible canyons, lakes, and forests.