The idea was to make a sunrise picture of a mountain called the Nokhu Craigs. This dramatic mountain is just a couple hours drive from home. It has steep contours and lights up magically with the first rays of sunlight. It had been snowing all night, but the clouds were suppose to break for sunrise. I knew that the weather was a gamble, but I decided to take the opportunity. So I woke at 2 am, threw my gear in the car, and hit the road. The drive was wintery and slow. I drove cautiously around icy curves. There was no other traffic in the early hours, except for a couple snow plows, and they are scary, because they take up both lanes and don’t stop for anything.
At the trailhead, It was still very dark. The car felt comfortable and safe, but I bundled up anyway. I grabbed my gear and my tour skies, and trekked into the blackness. Even with a headlamp it was hard to see, as the light would only illuminate my own breathe and blowing snow. But eventually, the world began to brighten, a little at first, but then the headlamp was no longer needed. The mountain that I came to shoot was hidden in clouds, and I thought that there might not be a sunrise. Still, at the very least, I figured that I could make this a scouting trip. And so I skied on, searching for the view of my peak, and keeping my fingers crossed that it would break through the shrouds of clouds. But with points of reference not visible, I skied too far. I went beyond the mountain I was hoping to capture. At sunrise, the sky opened a little. The snowy ridges above me glowed dramatically from the sun, but there was no clear composition. I decided to take a few photos anyway. It was cold. Even with the daylight, the temperature was going down, and the wind was picking up. My fingers were feeling the freezing pain while fidgeting with the mechanics of my camera. They cried to be back in the mittens. So my photography time was short, and I skied back. And as I returned, I came to the view of the mountain I was hoping to shoot in the first place. It hadn’t totally emerged from the clouds, but I could see it. The scene was ever changing as the wind raked the weather across the peak. It was not the sunrise scene I had hoped, but it was moody and dynamic. Despite the sharp cold, I struggled to a higher vantage point and took my camera out again. My fingers and toes had enough of this environment, but I endured a little more to take a few photos. Then I skied back to the car, temporarily exhausted by the temperature and the effort.
The result was a photo of a mountain temporarily emerging from the blowing clouds and snow. I think it’s a very dramatic photo that makes me appreciate the rugged beauty that humans are not neccessarily equipped to see. Let’s face it, beaches are more inviting to our bare skin and warm blood than cold icy craigs. However, there is still a beauty here, and I’m glad to have captured it. I will return another day, to find that sunrise scene.