Back in the saddle again. (Epilogue)

Photo: Tourist overlooking Badwater and the Panamint Mountains at sunrise, Dante’s View, Death Valley National Park, California

It was a long time coming; almost eight full months. As I drove, I kept hearing that old cowboy song reverbarating over and over in my head, “Back in the Saddle Again, Yes I’m back in the Saddle again.” It was a good feeling.

Ever since my accident, falling off that cliff in Death Valley back in late February, I hadn’t yet had the chance to go off and do a real working photo trip. Yes, I made several short ‘single-subject’ trips related to my current book project, and I even took my kids to see the Grand Canyon. But I hadn’t just jumped in my truck and taken off on a multi week, work-related photo shoot. That is, until a couple weeks ago. The kids were back in school, my wife’s big work project had cleared a major hurdle, and my deadline was starting to loom on the horizon.

I bolted over Tioga Pass road to beat a major seasonal storm that would surely close that pass, and started my shoot at Bodie State Historic Park. From there I went to Bishop, in part to hold up in a hotel while the storm passed, and to revisit the Mountain Light Gallery – as per my last post. While in Bishop, I connected up via email with friend and fellow photographer Jim Goldstein, and learned that he was heading to Death Valley, a place that had been on my mind for nearly all of this year. I know being over in the Eastern Sierra, I would be just a hop, skip, and jump away from Death Valley, and gosh if I wasn’t dead set on going back to where I had my accident, and seeing if I couldn’t find my old pair of glasses that I lost during the fall. I also wanted to finish the trip I’d been on back when I had my accident. (OK – I also found a reason or two to go there for my book project.)

I must admit, I had those nervous butterflies in my stomach as I drove toward “the spot”. Not only did I get a good look this time of where it happened, but I found both the bush where I had my midnight campfire, as well as my glasses at the base of a bush along the bottom of the fence.

Photos: The bush and campfire ‘ring’ near where I ‘woke up’ on the desert floor in the middle of the night. The ‘cliff’ and where I parked that night. In the light of day, I figured the total fall was closer to 35′, rather than the 40′ I guestimated looking upwards in the dark desert night.

When I finally got back in my truck and drove out of the park, and I was able to reflect on the shots I’d gotten in the park on this trip, I felt like I’d conquered a quiet little demon. Finally, I was on the road working again, and making new images. My perspective once again renewed; I’m glad to still be here, and so happy to share my images with everyone.

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12 Comments on “Back in the saddle again. (Epilogue)”

  1. G Dan Mitchell Says:

    Gary, just want to say again that I’m glad that you survived that very dangerous accident in good shape and made it back to DV.

    Take care. (Really!)


  2. Jack Johnson Says:

    Hey, congrats on finding your glasses! Oh, and surviving the fall was a definite plus, too! :^D

    – Jack

  3. Ron Niebrugge Says:

    Gosh, that is one heck of a cliff! It most have been something to return to the site of the accident. I’m guessing you didn’t camp there again on this visit.


  4. Greg Russell Says:

    We’re very glad to have you and your images here, Gary. Thanks for sharing these beautiful ones…looking forward to more posts from your DVNP and other trips!


  5. latoga Says:

    Gary, glad that you’re back in the saddle and able to get back to the field! The cliff looks worse that I had imagined. Thanks for sharing photos from your personal ground zero.

  6. John Wall Says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Gene Autry version. All that runs through my mind is the one by Aerosmith. 😉 Happy shooting!

  7. Patrick Smith Says:

    Thanks for posting this. This is exactly what I had imagined based on your story. In the middle of the night is must have seemed like 100 feet! Hope you got some nice ones down there.


  8. Jim Goldstein Says:

    It was great seeing you out there Gary! Glad you made the most of your time there and conquered those personal demons. I won’t ask if anyone was behind you while taking these photos…. that’s for another post LOL

  9. Richard Wong Says:

    Hey Gary. I’m glad that you were able to finally move past this traumatic event. I’m surprised you were able to find the exact spot considering that you had probably never seen it in when the light was out.

  10. Tony Says:

    Thanks for sharing, I remember seeing your site many years ago, now I bumped into you again, glad to see you are still shooting.

  11. Mark Says:

    I’ll bet the light moving across the landscape in that top image was quite amazing to watch Gary. That cliff is pretty scary, and no doubt brings a whole host of feelings to mind for you when looking at it.

  12. Sharon Van Lieu Says:

    Congratulations, Gary, on getting back out. You are an inspiration.


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