I made this image on the last night of another epic western trip to Colorado to shoot wildflowers and monsoon light and then a brief foray into Moab to work some desert light before heading back. On this fateful eve, myself and fellow photographers Alex Mody and Chris Kayler took Alex’s tricked out 4×4 monster FJ up onto Poison Spider Mesa in to shoot this not so iconic location from a spot about 2/3 of the way up the mesa. The trail was rough and involves some serious rock crawling and super technical 4×4 maneuvering to get to our intended spot. Arriving with a couple of hours to spare before sunset, we decided to venture onward and upward towards the top of the mesa, the road continued to deteriorate, but we landed safely on top with no problem, or so we thought!!
As we turned around at the top of the loop, and began back down on flat and smooth packed dirt we felt the truck buckle and bounce on the driver side. Thinking at first we had hit a rock or were perhaps dragging something, Alex stopped the truck to inspect. To our horror, the axle had snapped at the joint and the tire was buckled under the front of the car. Now that was an OH SHIT moment for sure. With no other options, we put on our backs what we could carry and began the long 5 mile walk down the mesa to the trail head where my Element was parked. Not being able to get to our original shooting location in time, I settled for a telephoto comp as the light broke and bathed the fins of Behind the Rocks in glowing red light for only moments before the sun disappeared once again behind monsoon clouds on the western horizon. As we made our way down the trail in the gathering darkness, I was struck by the unconditional beauty and unforgiving nature of the desert and just how lucky we were to have broken down on this evening in the the land of burning rock and big sky.