Sometimes I wonders if I’ll get too old to really enjoy the mountains. These are places for hiking, wandering, exploring, always wondering what’s in the next valley and then going to see for yourself. For me it’s not the distance that hurts but the elevation – dragging myself up all those inclines. What appears a simple little path to the next summit turns into a multi-hour trudge that just takes most of the fun out of actually getting there.
Out of shape (in so many dimensions), not enough exercise, college-dorm eating habits – all these contribute to my decreasing interest in the truly wonderful aspects of the mountains. Sure, you can drive to see many marvelous sights and the Park Service usually gives plenty of turnouts for the car traveler to stop and gape a bit at the scenery. It’s just not the same, though. All the really interesting stuff is OVER THERE; basically where I’m not at the time. I want to be THERE but my legs and lungs question the sanity of the idea so strongly I find myself HERE instead.
Didn’t realize pursuing my desire to be a photographer was going to require adhering to the Royal Canadian Air Force workout program. Still, unless I want to just duplicate all the images of others I need to be able to get where others (at least not all the others) haven’t been. For example, as much as I’d love to convince you the above image came from hours of hiking into the wilds at the top of the Rockies it was actually made by stepping just over the low stone barrier at the edge of a path leading from one of those car turnouts. I liked the way the ridge just dropped off diagonally into the valley with the snowy peaks as a backdrop. Great sunny day, as you can see, which is pertinent because handholding ISO64 color transparency film to get any depth of field requires klieg-light quantities of illumination. Fortunately the sun was low even for the time of day so there were plenty of shadows to lend some depth to the image.
Of course, once you set yourself on the path away from the road to search out those elusive, rarely seen compositions you discover the pain of more decisions. What gear to take? What to pack it in? Will I need a wide-angle and telephoto lens? Water weighs how much? Why didn’t I buy the carbon fiber tripod? It becomes that most American of endeavors, the compromise. In the expectation of actually returning from your expedition you forfeit some pieces of gear that will soon be discovered to be essential to your vision of the scene.
You know, this is the 21st century – where is my aircar? Or at least my anti-gravity sled to haul my stuff around? Of course, if those dreams were fulfilled then the THERE would be just as full of people as the HERE, wouldn’t it?!?