What were they thinking at the Sierra Club when they dreamed up their latest solicitation for new members?
Did the organization, which touts itself as America's "most influential grassroots environmental organization" and "Good Stewards of the Environment," really intend to use a photo of a hiker atop Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park?
While Canyonlands doesn't have as many arches as its neighbor, Arches National Park, Mesa Arch is a Canyonlands trademark landmark. Located atop the Island in the Sky District and oriented so that the rising morning sun shines through the arch's yawning mouth, Mesa Arch is a landscape photographer's dream.
The Sierra Club mailer doesn't identify the arch, but you'd be hard-pressed to find another arch that not only is oriented the same as Mesa Arch but which also is backed by a sprawling, horizon-stretching panorama. The striations of the rock in the pictured arch also can be found in Mesa Arch.
The picture does, however, appear to have been flipped, as a range of mountains you'd find on the bottom left-hand side of the arch are on the bottom right-hand side in this image.
"That is Mesa Arch, I am almost certain," Paul Henderson, the park's chief of interpretation, said Monday. "It does appear to have been flipped. I’m looking especially at the contours on the bottom of (the arch) and I can find those in other photos. ... So they printed it backwards, which is not that rare around here.”
Sierra Club officials had no immediate comment; they were looking into the matter Monday to determine if indeed the pictured arch is Mesa Arch.
Oddly, while Canyonlands' regulations prohibit climbing on arches, they say nothing about walking across arches, notes Ranger Henderson, although he quickly adds that, "It's not something I'd do."
Those who do walk atop the arch chance a fall of about 975 feet into Buck Canyon.