Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Consolation Prize

Winter storm coming through Powell Point, Grand Canyon
 When the skiing is not good in Utah, my husband and I have some of the best adventures as self-imposed consolation prizes.  Once when we were there already we spent a day on Antelope Island.  Another trip we canceled altogether and hit the road for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

After last week’s cancellation we camped at Grand Canyon’s South Rim in anticipation of a small snowstorm Tuesday night.  South Rim can be prohibitively busy in the warmer months, but much quieter this time of year.  I especially enjoy the opportunity to drive my own vehicle on Hermit Road, which is accessible only by bus March-November.

El Tovar Hotel Fireplace
As much time as I spend here, I forget that my husband has only experienced the South Rim twice.  So, when the light was not great, we took the opportunity to do some non-photographic stuff like ranger programs, museums, and what we called the “Fireplace Tour;” Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, Desert View, and Hermit’s Rest.  Great places to warm up, and three of the four Mary Colter designs.  I think his favorite was the Kolb Studio Tour, an opportunity to see not only the photography studio and art exhibit, but also the residence of the Kolb Brothers (and ultimately Emery and family), who took photographs and showed a movie about their Grand Canyon adventures for 61 years.   Emery died in his 90s in 1976.

We also enjoyed a visit with photographer friends from California and Georgia, who were in to do a workshop with Adam Schallau.  I admired his work, and it was a pleasure to meet this gracious guy.

All three sunsets this trip were grey.  That’s the nature of this kind of photography; you never know what you will or won’t see.

Sunrise light, undisclosed viewpoint, Grand Canyon
One sunrise was spectacular, though; worth the hike in the dark to a place where no one else was.

And then it snowed.  I was so excited that I woke at 4:30, opened the door, and tested the snow depth on the camper’s back bumper; only about 1 ½ inches, but I knew we’d have a show once the light came up.  People tend to hope for sunshine at the Canyon, but really there’s nothing like these rare storm conditions to show it off.  Snow changes everything for the better.  It is, as my Ranger friend says, like winning the lottery.

Clearing winter storm, Grandview Point, Grand Canyon
We spent the morning driving and walking the rim, and it was over an hour before we saw another soul, a man riding a bicycle on Hermit Road.  He must have been going to work – there’s no way he’d be doing that for fun!

The ebb and flow of cloud and fog was beautiful for hours, and I stayed much longer than I had planned.  Weather like this trumps all but the most important appointments back in the city.

More images from this trip are in the Winter 2017-18 Gallery on the website.


  1. Wonderful second place adventure!!

    1. Thanks Lynda! As you know, it was a magical morning!

  2. Even a brief snowy window is worth it and so beautiful. Winter is the time to visit. I enjoyed the Kolb Residence tour years ago, and the snow was thigh deep. You scored.

    1. Thanks, G. I do love your canyon. I hope next time we can share the snow!!

  3. Love the sunrise pic especially.