Feb 10, 2008

the one that got away

i woke to the alarm this morning at 6:00 to find that both cars wouldn't start. the temp was 46 below and our flaky outlet outside that we plug the cars into over night was..well, flaky. i reset the switch and went back to bed. at 8:00 wunderground claimed the day would start warming considerably and the higher altitudes were already enjoying normal temps. i tried the car again. it started- reluctantly. as reported, when i began to gain elevation the temp display in my car hit -21 for the first time in two weeks (it only reads as cold as -22)

the road north was magnificent today, with loads of snow and a brilliant blue sky. i made photos of the snow loaded black spruce on the two high points South of the Yukon River. the snow and wind has loaded them up like thousands of giant vanilla ice cream cones. i swear they sounded as if they would break in the wind. a thousand little toothpicks snapping under the strain of double scoops.

i made it as far as the Finger Mountain wayside before turning back. Finger Mountain is the farthest i can make it on a tank of gas without going on into Coldfoot, because Yukon crossing is closed in the winter. Coldfoot is at least a two day trip. it kills me to not push on through down to the valley. time wasn't on my side.

i've never experienced wind like i saw today on top of the mountain- it unseated the Happy Jack parking lot in Laramie Wyoming as the windiest place in the Northern Hemisphere. the last time i was in Laramie i almost lost a pair of skies to the wind. today it was my camera. close.

as it goes in the winter, seeing other people on the road is minimal. my last day trip i didn't see another soul, but truckers. with the exception of Coldfoot, the truckers don't stop. so, landscapes have been the outlet. they don't move.

today though, as i was cresting the hill before the Hess Creek overlook i saw the biggest orange snow suite i've ever seen! the little man inside was named Yoshi. he was a Japanese photographer heading up to Wiseman to stalk the aurora as best i could tell. he was in full winter regalia with a face mask, day glow orange one piece, enormous gloves, and a Canon the size of my 4x5. our communication was fragmented, but he was a nice guy. he was interested in my camera, and i was interested in making a portrait of him. in the end the view wasn't great and he high tailed it for his car as soon as i made it clear that i would like to take his picture. just like that, the huge orange orb was gone.

only two day trips in the last four weeks. one person. zero portraits.

this is what makes it just that much more satisfying when i pull one off. sometimes it comes together. sometimes it doesn't. i'm confident that i made one, if not two, truly spectacular photos today though. those landscapes never run to their car.

if the weather holds i'll make a two and a half day trip out of it next weekend. maybe i'll see that big orange snow suit again.

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