Our Daily Sykes #128 – High Before the Throne

This Sykes subject surprises me with its preparation.  In order to record this view of The Great White Throne in Utah’s Zion National Park, Horace had to climb about 1400 feet from the canyon floor.  In many places the route is steep and exposed with switchbacks and rock scrambles beside which heavy chains are strung for a grip.  At some point it becomes the West Rim Trail that also connects with the Angels Landing Trail.  You can see the Angel’s Landing in Horace’s shot.  It is the dark pinnacle on the right, and it is deceiving.  The landing is exceptionally slender, about as wide as a high school cafeteria.  I found all this with the help of Google Earth.  In its ‘copter I came within feet of the prospect from which Sykes recorded this look to what is probably the best known rock in the park: The Great White Throne.  And in a later light of the day than this light the upper half of it really is quite white. The majestic monolith is probably the parks’ principal symbol.   Using the Google Earth ruler I measured the distance from Sykes to the top of the Throne.  It is about 1.25 miles.  Not far.  And the throne rises straight up more than 2000 feet from the canyon floor.

A 1938 park poster featuring the Great White Throne.

The Throne was named in 1916 by a Methodist preacher named Frederick Fisher. It was one of those rare moments in Utah where a Methodist beat a Mormon.  He also named the Angel’s Landing, and the Three Patriarchs, which I have not found as yet.  With a weekly assignment to come up with something new for Sunday, preachers are bound to think up such names.  Watching a late afternoon light bounce of the white Navajo sandstone was for Fisher a new revelation, at once sublime and patriotic. He recalled remarking to those with him, “Never have I seen such a sight before. It is by all odds America’s masterpiece.  Boys, I have looked for this mountain all my life but I never expected to find it in this world.  This mountain is the Great White Throne.”  Now let us open our bibles to Revelations Chapter 20 where we will learn – I think – that it is from the  “Great White Throne” that God will deliver his final judgment of the dead, who I think will first wake up to hear it.  The faithful will then fly to heaven singing carols they will not recall learning, and all others will fall to hell with great gnashing of teeth.  I would fish a quote from Chapter 20 but I have lost my bible in one move or another like I have also lost all my early disk recordings of the Fugs.

Now I remember that there are other similar Sykes Zion slides in his collection and almost certainly one or more was taken from this intrepid trail.  I’ll hunt for them and attach one or more.

This one we did use earlier. I remember Matt's remarks about the switchbacks. They may well be Walter's Wiggles in Refrigerator Canyon.
Another of the Throne, and most likely same day as the above. And same trail.

This is, I believe on the trail to Angels Landing, although still far below it. The view looks almost directly south. The Virgin River is down there. Refrigerator Canyon is behind Horace and some of the views included above are from that Canyon looking south. I doubt that Horace made it to the top of the Angel but he got quite a ways up it - far enough to look east from the ridge that led to it. If Horace would have turned his camera to the left (east) here he would have looked up at The Great White Throne, or his prospect may have been interrupted by the west wall of the edgy Angel.

2 thoughts on “Our Daily Sykes #128 – High Before the Throne”

  1. This place is amazing. What is it about Sykes’ images that makes even sunlit desert scapes on bright days seem foreboding and kinda murky? There rarely seem to be severely dark shadows or highlights. There’s a disturbing luminary evenness to most scenes, stunningly beautiful be they ever so. They feel saturated, heavy, but with what I’m not sure.

  2. Okay, that last photo is an exception. And maybe the answer is “proper exposure”, something we see a little less of these days since it is so easy to shoot quick and serviceable photos with a compact digital.

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