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Friday, April 8, 2011

mt. si

this piece of elevated rock west of the cascades has been on my hiking list for some time. tina pointed out the forest growth at some point and said it had been a nice hike. the view was all the hike was about, she added.
i made my deal with the orogeny last time i was midway going from seatlle back to e-burg. i took this cell-camera photo from the inside of the idling shuttle bus in north bend at dusk.
i climbed mt. Ψ one lovely sunday and found myself in the clouds. ivo u oblacima. there weren't any clouds that day.

if you have ever hiked with an amateur photographer, or if you are one, then this is a hike to make a group populated with avid hikers survive it. with photo challenges tucked away safely in the woods your only way is a switchback-y 4-mile hike up. i reached the top of 1270 m swaggering the last half hour through partly melted snow.

1 km taller than the tallest (wo)man at the trail-head, i rested for about least 10 minutes feeling tall. # of photos taken? 0. i started to worry a little. i hadn't taken a hike photo in more than a coupe of weeks. what i worried about was what if i just couldn't see the beauty anymore and have become ungrateful. eventually the nature cleared her throat and said: i am here and i am gorgeous! shoot me! i felt like i was back in the balkans, ha,ha! where is that lens now i left at home?

mountain peaks at one km above ground are of such nature, helped by the sweat of the steep, long hike, that i often think of how one (me) could digitize the scale of it(her). well, then i realized that all i had was a camera and mediocre photo skills. now i started to worry. if i only had a more expensive camera.

so i snap away a few of the cascadia to the east. the west is too hazy to offer an uninterrupted view of settle, the puget and mt. rainier. now i am only half worried. thanks hazy western skies.

there is a lot of people on the mountain today. i am guessing that i don't see this many people even in the food court of any particular shopping mall of my choosing. a girl sits down trying to devour a sandwich to compensate for calories lost on the challenging hike. the last mile was all snow, well-groomed by a horde of hikers shoe-skiing down the mountain. a bird all chirpy and fluttery makes a few round-abouts and plunges straight for a bite. the girl is pissed and her boyfriend and i look at each other and start giggling as obnoxiously as only two guys who don't know each other can.

so point my camera at the bird while she/he/it was eyeballing another bite. the aperture is left somewhat closed which is where i had it while shooting landscape at infinity a moment ago. i worry the bokeh will be poor.

i can't believe the af (not a nikon!) locked in on the birdie through all the twigs.

arrested by a quizzical expression on my face after a series of lens (and hood) exchanges i tuck away all the gear and start my descent. i've had better photo-hikes but this one felt just hike-good right. i felt good. my legs are to be sore.

i start skiing my way down the groomed trail. sections at the top are quite steep and slick. i wouldn't want to go up or down this trail when it gets below freezing. with jack-tracks installed perhaps. i have them (at home) but i am too much of an intelligent and independent photo-hiker to be comfortable and safe.

i think how to photograph the groomed trail. i stop at two places and wait for people to pass by me so i could frame them in. everyone is nice and lets me wait for them. oh, no, i am good, please go on... i'm just...trying to...get something here...aperture...priority... i set the aperture to f/1.4, something i shy away from doing in daylight. such a poor experimentalist(-ator) i am. i want to isolate a section of the groomed trail with the shallow depth of field. you with pocket-able digital cameras: fuggedaboutit! convenience gives you just that. a pocket with a camera in it. if you want to do the stuff, you've gotta carry the stuff up and down the hill. not easily in your pocket.

a hiker grooming the trail. this is who you curse as you skid backwards trying to climb the trail

i get to the car, eat my 90-calorie dark-chocolate granola bar and drive away towards the pass, away from the sunset.
and what's it really like on the top of the mountain, you ask?

near "normal" perspective from the top of mt. si looking east towards the cascades

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