There’s a line of people waiting to have their picture taken with the Delicate Arch. Couples in REI gear, families in matching sandals, teenagers in heavy metal t-shirts, and Europeans in black socks all queue in the middle of the desert. They stand behind an invisible “Please wait here” sign that was no doubt installed by the mom and pop photographers who are waiting to snap a calculated shot of their loved-ones that provides proof that they were here and the illusion that everyone else was not. Restless and impatient from the one-and-a-half-mile uphill hike—that was longer and more strenuous than perhaps anticipated—the line of people bob their heads and twist the balls of their feet into the rust-colored earth, each of them dancing before trotting over to the Arch to finally have their souvenir picture taken.
I take seat away from the other photographers attempting to snap pictures of the Arch in the seconds between the people who come and go from it’s opening. Hot and fatigued, after a couple of failed shots I put my camera down. It’s overcast but the shady sky does little to cool the windless triple-digit climate and, perhaps against the wishes of the photographers and models, I pray that the sky will give into the rain.
I feel a tap on my shoulder and it’s a woman who I had seen earlier on the hike. She is also alone asks if I can take a picture of her with the Arch in the background and she volunteers to do the same for me. It’s the first and only picture on the entire trip that I have taken of me. After exchanging cameras, we both sit down near but not quite next to one another. Together we watch the groups of families and friends shuffle in and out of the Delicate Arch, and as we look on the rain begins to fall.