Not long ago, Jeff Sinon tweeted that he was going to hike up Mt. Major to photograph the sunrise over Lake Winnipesaukee and would anyone want to join him. It had been too long since we shot together and my husband and I are always up for adventure, so I tweeted back that we’d be there. Crazy.
Well kinda. We are, after all, modern humans with access to gadgetry of all kinds and Mt. Major isn’t exactly tall, although it is wicked steep in parts. So with headlamps firmly strapped we set out for the summit. A lot of the trail is an old logging road, wide and deeply set with large rocks separated from each other by years of runoff. Toward the top it got much steeper and after slogging through boulders running with water, we ended up at some bare granite ledge to monkey over. But less fit souls than I have done it (and probably in flip-flops) so up I went. I think it helped knowing that there was an alternate way down. Breaking my neck is never on my agenda.
Sometimes Mother Nature just laughs at me. At us, really, I suppose, but sometimes I think she’s after me. After our headlighted trek, the clouds we kept hoping would pile up on the horizon stayed out of range, thumbing their noses. The wind that sometimes calms just at sunrise decided that day to party hearty. Even with a backpack dangling from the tripod, it was so windy that my shots are soft and I’m not altogether happy with them. The light is lovely though and the just-off peak foliage is still pretty nice, but dammit if that tripod would not stop moving. Next time I drag the big Bogen up just for the added weight, which sucks to carry, but is evidently necessary at any altitude. Whatta dope.
By the time we got the light we wanted down in the valley, I was so cold that I think I was shivering more than my strained camera support. Dammit that wind just wouldn’t quit. No wonder the rock-walled shelter of old had two roofs blown off before people just gave up.
I didn’t know it then, but things were about to change. Through luck and a quick consult with my husband’s iPad, we ended up on the Brook trail for the hike down. It is longer, so we didn’t take it to go up, but it sure made down easier, with limited opportunities for neck-breaking. Plus it went by a brook. Always a sucker for a good brook, as soon as I heard the water, I headed in for a look. First crack out of the box I found what ended up being the best cascade I could find. I guess Nature thought I’d had enough and she gave me a break.
As I explored (with my husband standing patiently by) I was enchanted, but there was so much debris in the flow and on the rocks that make up the brook’s borders that it was really hard to find a composition that wasn’t distracting in the extreme. Once again, things were about to change, but I had to wait for it. Jeff had vamoosed to join his family for breakfast and so it was just me, looking in vain for another picturesque cascade. By the time I found one, I was racing the sun. Well, the Earth, really, but you get it. Pretty soon the sun was going to be too high to work with…shining directly on the water and blowing my highlights something fierce. But I found a cascade and began a laborious process of clearing tons of branches out of the way. Believe it or not they were hanging from other branches (blown off by storms) and dangling directly in front of the lens. Not in the water, but in the space between. Standing in the water, tripod on rock, and holding some branches that wouldn’t budge out of the way, I finally shot Minge Brook in all its golden glory.
OMG I can’t believe what I got. The light so soft and perfect that it almost doesn’t look real. It is though and that little kiss of the light on the upper rocks is pure magic for me. For once my timing was good. I’d like to revisit this spot in the spring with the fresh, green leaves in place of the glowing golden ones. And if this is Minge in the dry season, I can only imagine it in full song, with the snow-melt and spring runoff. That would be a sight to behold.