Fall is Coming

July 29, 2009  •  Leave a Comment

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Last Friday I was in Boulder to pick up a permit for this weekend's backpack up to Indian Peaks. It was beastly hot-the thermometer on the car said 97-which I think now had to be wrong, but that's what it said.
When I was done in Boulder I headed up to Estes Park for the rest of the day to just get my mountain fix. I looked at the thermometer in the car as I hit the main intersection in Estes and it said 77. Much better, I thought.
 
Summer can be tough. I don't remember it like that growing up, but now the heat is stifling. Fall in the mountains is great-cool, beautiful, and invigorating.
 
Yesterday I got word my permit was accepted and I'm granted 2 nights in Glacier Gorge the end of September. What a gift. It'll be 16 years since my last trip up there. Far too long. I'm starting to plan gear. Even though it's only a couple nights, it's still a significant outing because of elevation, exposure, weather, etc. It's gonna be great... when you're locked into dates by permits, all you can do is hope for the weather you want. When I climbed, I'd hope for sunny, blue Colorado skies and temps in the 70's. Now, I want clouds. Lots of them. I want drama, I want light. I want color in the skies. I want no rain. We'll see what we get.
 
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Studying the maps and drawing on past knowledge of the area I'm starting to plan my shots. It's tough to know just where to be at just what time. I used to stress out about this, but I read a great line by Ansel Adams once that said something to the affect of, "you can't be everywhere at sunrise at once, so just pick your spot well and get the most out of it." Great advice from someone qualified to give it.

p87321657-2 As the time draws near for September's Wyoming trip I'm getting more excited. I haven't figure out exactly where I'll target yet - much depends on my knees, honestly. We'll see how I do beneath the weight of a heavy pack these next few weeks before making any final decisions. I'm thinking about Cirque of the Towers. Though it's reputed to be over run wwith climbers, I've never shot it, and it's a target rich environment. The hike up Big Sandy is long and arduous, but once you're there and have set camp, opportunities are endless. This is appealing from a logistics point of view. Packing in a heavy load and spreading out, then grabbing what you need for day trips is more paltable these days than packing up your whole load every day and moving on to another spot, just because. I'm inclined to settle in and explore/shoot for the week in one, target-rich environment this time... we'll see how it pans out.
 
Medium format film will be the primary MO of course, but I may sneak my digital into the pack too. I have a few rolls of Provia left from my last Adorama order, but need to re-stock. It's an interesting challenge to buy enough film at once that you always have it in the freezer but not so much that you overbuy and it expires before you shoot it. I have more HP5+ left and will be shooting a lot of that in Wyoming (expires 1/10), but I'm planning on shooting Velvia 50 up there as well.
 
For me, much of the fun of a trip like this is planning for it. I used to just wing it more, but over the years I've learned I surely get more out of it when I go with a structured, but loose and flexible game plan.
 
There are the spontaneous, impromptu, wild-hair, last minute things, too. Like that last Friday in Estes. Around 7pm I'd called Annie to tell her I was heading home after gassing up, and would be coming down Glen Haven - one of our favorite drives. I headed out of town up toward Lumpy Ridge and it was just too pretty not to stop. That stop turned into a 2 hour detour to shoot Twin Owls, the prominent, magnificent duolith. The light wasn't that great, but just to be out there, quietly tucked in a boulder field above the trail, patiently awaiting the right alignment of the large, active sky... all on a whim, no preparation to speak of, no maps, no grand plan. Silence. Periodically I'd hear voices below me as tired climbers made their way up the trail, back to the car. I heard the click-click-click of a woodpecker as he hopped from one tangled mass of deadfall to another, looking for something to eat. Silence and peace as the last little kiss of light touched the brow of Twin Owls, as if kissing it goodnight. Just beautiful.
 
Being flexible to the 2 different approaches creates balance. Can't wait for September...

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