A Day in the Mountains

As a photographer, I've had paid gigs and a few photos published here 'n' there, but up until two weeks ago, I had never been given an assignment. So when Surfline asked me to get a shot of some snowy mountains, reflected in the lens of some sunglasses with a surfer carrying a surfboard in there somewhere, I was stoked. A bit reluctant, but stoked. I knew where to snap such a shot: Bend. The mountains. So, Surfline overnighted the shades and I left the coast, headed through the valley, over the mountains and landed in the high desert on a beautiful, late Saturday afternoon. Based on the weather forecast, the next day was to be superb. And it was.

My buddy and I woke before the sun and headed high into the Cascades to an ancient lava flow that generally has an ice cold, pure, transparent stream running at it's base. Alongside the stream is a mossy trail that leads to some incredible views of The Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor and the whole of Central Oregon. However, due to late snowfall and an abnormally wet spring (Oregon's second wettest on record), our creek -- and trail -- was still buried in snow. Furthermore, we came prepared with jeans, hoodies, tennis shoes, ankle socks, hardly any water, no food and a pack of cigarettes. Any other day our next move would have been a no brainer: head back to town and grab an early breakfast before the yuppies fill the cafe's to the brim. However, with my assignment in mind, we headed up the sharp lava rocks, unsure of our route and final destination. Sometimes you just gotta go. And we went. Ascending up the rocks, we joked about our interviews for the TV show, I Shouldn't Be Alive. We were ill prepared to be hiking over snow covered ridges, regardless of the season, and there were a couple times where things got a bit intense. Oh, and keep in mind that I'm carrying a camera around my neck, two lenses in my pockets and my Saucony tennies are soaked to the brim after the first 20 paces. My cohort is carrying a surfboard. In the mountains. It truly would have been the most comedic episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive ever. Well, at least the intro.

After 3 hours of hiking, talking, speculating, laughing, cursing and hoping, we approached the base of another ridge that guaranteed to have the view that I needed. Unfortunately, this was the steepest incline we had encountered yet. And if you slipped, there would be no hope of recovery. It was inevitable that the slide down to the open snow field would leave your palms bloody and your ego crushed. Falling was not an option. At first look, climbing the thing was out of the question, but I had come too far to turn back. We had to press on. So we grabbed a few branches that looked like ice axes and started carving little "steps" into the snow. One by one we worked for another hour until we reached the top. As intense as the climb was, nothing could have prepared us for the intensity of the view -- or the cougar tracks -- from atop this ridge. It was breathtaking. We set up the shot and had it nailed in less than 10 minutes. Done deal. Job complete. 

The hike down was lighthearted and full of laughs and silly scenarios about our reality TV episode. I had a pretty good tumble down some lava rocks and really dinged my board and destroyed my fingers, but they're healed now and the board will be soon. As we approached the parking spot we had a choice to go around a chilly stream or just plow right through it. I am sure you can guess what we did. Those shoes have been retired. 

There's really nothing better than following your dreams and making a decision to make a career out of something that you love. Photography allows me to have days like this from time to time. Some people may think that I'm just cruisin' all the time, taking a few photos here and there and building a bankroll like RO$$. Nope. Sorry. Not the case. Truthfully, the life of a freelance photographer isn't nearly as glamorous as it seems. It's more e-mailing and sitting in front of a computer than you'd ever believe. Every month is a guessing game as to wether or not I'll be able to pay my bills on time or have enough money to put gas in the tank to get anywhere. Seriously. But sometimes you get to have days like that. And it makes all the driving and all the mundane tasks and all the crappy days worthwhile. I'd never trade this path for anything in the world. 

Thank you to those people that support and value my dreams. Your encouragement means the world to me and you know who you are. 


1 comment:

  1. you know who supports you the most <3 great blog love, you're a talent and best of all you're MINE! :-)