Days 5, 6, and 7 — “Whoa”

maybe it’s because i had been driving all day and was a little loopy.  maybe i was feeling a little lonely since i haven’t been talking to many people the past few days.  or maybe i was just feeling a little bored at the time.  regardless of the reason, as i coasted down a highway 89 hill and caught a glimpse of the tetons skying over jackson lake, the word “whoa” jumped out of my mouth.

having grown up with a view of the rocky mountains no more than a window away, i’m used to mountains.  seeing them on the horizon doesn’t inspire awe in me.  yes, i still find them impressive, but this sentiment requires reflection — it’s not the knee-jerk response of astonishment that i imagine a child from the plains has when seeing the rockies rise from the ground.

perhaps it’s because these tetons are unencumbered by foothills that would prevent their girth and their jagged edges from looming directly over us that I was so taken by them.  nothing about them seems gradual.  it is as if god grew cross with nuances or weary of subtlety and brought these mountains out of the ground with that deliberate carelessness that so often reveals surprisingly impressive results.

i rushed south through the park to find a suitable place to capture the evening golden hour and watch the sunset, and i found exactly what i was looking for in schwabacher’s landing.  the road to the landing was closed, so i had to hop out of the focus and drag all my camera equipment a little under a mile to find a secluded fishing location. since the sun sets behind the tetons, i wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the pictures (exposure shooting into the sunrise/sunset is tricky because the sky is typically either washed out while the foreground is properly exposed or the sky looks appropriate while the foreground is just a dark blob).  nevertheless, i snapped some pictures and enjoyed the view.

while i was bracketing (taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels to help ensure that you’ll get at least one decent picture under tricky lighting situations) a particular shot, i noticed a beaver swimming upstream through the snake river.  i quickly dismounted my camera, threw on my telephoto lens, and hurried over to watch him work.  after enjoying his persistence for a few minutes, i went back to shooting the landscape.  after the sun dipped behind the mountains, i packed up and headed back to the car.  i stumbled upon a few deer and even a sizable elk on the way back (and the next day, some bison!) — not a bad trip for wildlife sightings.

over the course of the next few days, i went from one awe-inspiring photo location to another (and had another encounter with mr. beaver), taking hikes and naps in between.  since the best photo opportunities come in the early mornings and late evenings (and nighttime for long exposures of sky and car trails), i haven’t been getting much sleep during the night and i’ve been napping during mid-day, when the light is the harshest, to try to compensate.  i’ve been surviving, and i haven’t nodded off while driving (knock on wood), but i’m certainly looking forward to getting back into a normal sleep schedule…and a bed.  a bed will be nice…

anyways, the sun is starting to get low again, which means it’s time for me to head back out and see what i can capture.  i got to bryce canyon last night and i’ll be spending the next couple days here, so be on the lookout for another post summing up my desert experiences soon.

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