Byron Neslen Southwest Fine Art Photography



Last week of September of 2006 I went up to the north rim of the Grand Canyon to photograph fall colors of the aspens. I traveled up to the north rim Sunday evening and camped at Saddle Mountain that evening. The fall colors were not at peak so I decided to do some hiking the next day. I went hiking on the Nankoweap Trail. I hiked several miles down the trail then hiked back to the trailhead where the 4x4 truck I had purchased that spring and camp was. The hike was great. I just took my 35mm with me. Sections of the trail are steep so I was glad I was not carrying lots of equipment when I went down and came back up the trail.

That evening I had a small fire and cooked some potatoes in aluminum foil in the coals of my camp fire that night for dinner. I remembered that it was a little windy that evening but not too windy to have a campfire. I went to bed in the back of my truck that evening. The wind became stronger as the night became morning. I remember waking up and about 5:00 am and thinking about moving the truck or going to marble canyon for a morning shot but fell back to sleep. About 6:00 am I woke up because of crash and my truck was vibrating violently like something fell on it. I got out of the back of the truck and found a large dead spruce tree had fallen on the front of the truck. I noticed that antifreeze was leaking from the front of the truck so I knew that I was not going to be driving until I got the radiator fixed.

I carry a small wood saw and axe in the truck. I started to cut the tree in sections. After I had cut a large section of the tree I decided to drive the truck from underneath the rest of the tree. While I was working on getting the tree off my truck I noticed that another tree had fallen during the windstorm and landed where my campfire was and were I was sitting next to my campfire the night before. My guardian angel must have been working overtime that night. If the tree had fallen on the back end of the truck where I was it would have shattered my camper shell on the truck and could of killed me. The tree could of just as easily landed on the back of the truck but instead landed on the front sparing my life. I carry a mountain bike in the truck for exploring trails. I put the bike together and rode it about 15 miles to the nearest place I could call to get the truck towed from. I rode the bicycle along the dirt road till I came to highway 67 then rode north about a mile to a gas station. It started to snow a little and was very windy right before I got to the gas station. I was glad that I had my bicycle in the truck because it would have been a long walk without it. I called for a tow truck.

Paul was the tow truck driver that came to pick up my truck. On the way to Fredonia, Arizona he told me that he just got into photography. In the fall of 2009 Paul joined me for some shooting on the north rim and later that fall Paul bought a 4 x 5 view camera and I showed him how to use the camera in Zion National Park. Paul has become a good friend. I was towed to Judd Service Station.

Tony owns the service station. Tony allowed me to spend the night in my truck at his station as I got parts to fix the truck. Tony also helped me get parts for my truck so I could go back to Phoenix. I have also become friends with Tony. Tuesday afternoon was when I was towed there and by Friday I had repaired the truck enough to return to Phoenix that day. I didn’t photograph like I wanted to, but I did gain two new friends and a story that I hope won’t happen again but is a great story to tell.