|Rainbow Bridge - 16" x 12" - Oil on board by Greg Newbold|
The natural wonder that is Rainbow Bridge is located in a finger of Glen Canyon that is now only accessible from Lake Powell in Southern Utah (true, you could hike in, but I really don't think many people take the arduous overland route). The first time I visited it in the mid 1980's it looked pretty much like I have depicted in the painting. Record runoff two years in a row had filled Lake Powell to capacity and the water had backed up all the way under the natural sandstone formation. Climbing on or under the bridge is restricted today out of respect to the Native American tribes who deem it sacred, but the time I visited with my Boy Scout troop, we took the opportunity to cliff jump directly underneath the bridge. I can't remember if it was discouraged then , but we did it anyway (oh the shame of youth). After a short swim to the other side, my fellow intrepid teenage adventurers and I scaled the slope under the bridge to take the plunge. I estimate that the drop was between thirty-five and forty-five feet, but after I launched myself off, I swear it felt like a hundred. After slamming into the water and then fighting back to the surface for a welcome gulp of air, I decided once was enough.
Lake Powell is currently more than one hundred feet below capacity which now makes the hike from the water to the Rainbow Bridge more than a mile. When I first went there, the boat docks were maybe a hundred yards from the bridge and that was only to keep boat traffic a reasonable distance away. It would take several years of above average snowfall to fill the lake again. I am not sure I will ever see Rainbow Bridge like that again. My friend who commissioned the piece said that her family went to Lake Powell many times while they were growing up and this is the way she wanted to remember it. I guess this view is just water under the bridge, so to speak.