Just Me and the Cows

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Just Me and the Cows

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With Amy and Sophia being away for the weekend taking a birding class in the Methow Valley with Amy’s father, I was eager to get out and use the time to do some photography.  I had always wanted to get out to take some early morning photographs on the Methow’s always-fun Buck Mountain trail, so I decided I’d head over the pass and try to grab a few shots there. The crowning feature of the trail is a beautiful fun ridgeline descent that overlooks the Chewuch River valley and Pearrygin Lake to the east, and offers glimpses into the Cascades to the west.  In the springtime, it’s chock-full of gorgeous yellow Arrowleaf Balsamroot blooming amongst the sagebrush.  It makes for a memorable descent.  While the balsamroot was long past its prime, the ridge in early June is still stunningly beautiful, and I thought that the morning light hitting the ridge would look incredible with the valley below.

Just one problem, however.  I really wanted to show a mountain biker on the trail, and as I called around it turned out that all the usual suspects for riding buddies already had other plans for the weekend.  Not too surprising, given my last-minute plan and the gorgeous weather forecast.  I thought about changing my plans, but then decided that it would be a fun opportunity to scout the scene out with the intent of maybe coming back another time.  I still wanted to get some biking shots though, to see how it’d all look, so I enlisted the services of the one willing model I could find- yours truly.  In order to get what now were turning out to be elaborate selfies, I did a little research, and found some instructions for soldering a trigger button that would let me use my Pocketwizard transceivers to trip the shutter without taking my hands off the handlebars.  I’m terrible at soldering, but three ruined switches later I managed to put something together that seemed like it had at last even odds of lasting the weekend.  So, I threw some camping gear in the car and hit the road.  A little gazetteer research showed that I could set up camp along a forest road relatively close to the ridge, and after a few wrong turns I found the spot and posted up for the night.

Night riding near my campsite.  I'd hoped to do something using a flash to show the rider, but found that I'd left my flash equipment at home.  Oh well!

Night riding near camp. I’d hoped to do something using a flash to show the rider, but found that I’d left my flash equipment at home. Oh well!

I was eager to geek out with my new push-button trigger so  I set up and grabbed a few night shots along the trail next to my camp spot, but with an early morning looming ahead I didn’t spend long before hitting the hay, my camera and bike gear staged for a quick departure in the morning.  One downside to the long days of summertime is that sunrise is pretty darn early, which in turn makes getting up early enough to ride the 20 or so minutes along the trail to catch the sunrise an even early proposition.  The sunrise was supposed to be around 5:10 for the next morning, so I set my alarm for 4:30 with the hopes that I’d be coherent enough in the morning to get out on the trail relatively efficiently.

My alarm seemed to go off the second I went to sleep, but I managed to make it out to the ridge with just enough time to set up for some shots. I’ll say that riding with a tripod on your pack is not all that fun, but it’s a necessary evil when one is both the rider and the photographer.  Some new bovine neighbors had moved in overnight, and the trail leading to the ridge was littered with sleepy cows and ample evidence of their passing.  A few new objects to dodge.  The light on the ridge was truly fantastic, and amazingly my home-made trigger button worked.  Being your own model is not the most efficient way to take photos, and the light didn’t last long, but I had a great time taking the few I did get.  Now that I have the logistics sorted I’d love to head back out there with a buddy, perhaps in the springtime when the flowers are blooming, and grab some shots without having to be both rider and photographer.

A few shots from the weekend:

My new neighbors.

My new neighbors.

 

Neighborhood watch captain.

Neighborhood watch captain.

 

 

First light hitting the mountains to the southwest.  Better work fast!

First light hitting the mountains to the southwest. Better work fast!

 

Lovely early morning alpenglow.

Lovely early morning alpenglow.

 

First light on the ridge, with Pearrygin Lake and the Chewuch Valley below in the distange.

First light on the ridge, with Pearrygin Lake and the Chewuch Valley below in the distange.

 

I loved the backlighting on the sagebrush.  I really wished I'd had someone else here to do the riding, because there were some great photo opportunities that were tough to catch alone with the rapidly rising sun.

I loved the backlighting on the sagebrush. I really wished I’d had someone else here to do the riding, because there were some great photo opportunities that were tough to catch alone with the rapidly rising sun.

 

Last shot before the golden morning light was gone for the day.

Last shot before the golden morning light was gone for the day.

 

Great light on the trees across the valley.

Great light on the trees across the valley.

A glimpse up the Methow River valley near Mazama before heading home.

A glimpse up the Methow River valley near Mazama before heading home.

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