In 1960s, by damming Colorado River, the once-majestic Glen Canyon was flooded to create Lake Powell, the second largest man-made reservoir in the United States. As a minor tributary to Glen Canyon, Reflection Canyon also has been partly submerged by the waters of Lake Powell. At an elevation of 3575 feet, Lake Powell held only 39% of its full capacity by the end of March 2014, due to long-lasting drought for years. The beautifully curved meander of Reflection Canyon now resurfaces, exhibiting a surreal picture that combines its original charm dating back to pre-reservoir era, with novel features added by raised water. To witness this rare scenery, the journey starts with tackling a 50-mile dirt road off highway in a high-clearance vehicle, followed by an 8-mile cross-country hike on unmarked, very rugged terrain, with hardly any water or shade along the way.

I first learned its existence from the April 2006 issue of National Geographic magazine. Today, I still regard Michael Melford's original shot as one of the most stunning photographs I have ever seen. I made my first attempt to Reflection Canyon in April 2013, when the water level dropped down below 3600' again, which was low enough for a decent photo but the rock fin in the middle was still underwater and barely visible. The water level has dropped another 20' this spring, so I came back and made a successful revisit. By leaving the motel in Escalante 2 hours before sunrise, I was able to start the long hike at daybreak. It was cloudy and even overcast at times on my way in. When I reached the spot everything was in a pale, grayish cast. Plus, gusty wind disrupted every corner of the water surface, there was only a not-so-colorful canyon without any reflection. However, my effort and patience were finally paid off. The sky turned clear and the water became calm in the next two hours, giving me the decisive opportunity to capture Reflection Canyon at its best.

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