A few weeks ago I made my way up Mount Mansfield for another hike…I was defeated the first time this summer and didn’t quite make it up to the top but this time I did. This is the heart of the Green Mountains for me and one of my all time favorite areas to explore. With the town of Underhill on one side facing towards Lake Champlain and the Stowe and Smugglers Notch ski area on the other the area really is a photographers dream for doing landscape work. With several different and challenging hikes up to the top the effort is worth the reward as you get 360 degree views of the Green Mountains and Vermont!
When I made this image I was just starting my Fall foliage work and the few weeks prior were very rainy. Well as you can see the sun came out and the skies were blue however it was damn cold on my hike! I could see my breath in the air even at the base of the mountain but I soldiered on despite the cold. The temp was about 20 to 30 degrees with no snow but lots of ice on the trail making for some hairy hiking conditions. When I finally reached the summit I had some beautiful views and I spied several photo ops for the future but it was so cold with the windy conditions that my hands started to freeze up making it difficult to operate the camera controls.
Not wanting to go home empty-handed I hiked back down just a bit to the camera position in the image. The temp was just a bit warmer here and with feeling returning to my hands I broke out my speedlight to make this shot. I wanted to illuminate this twisted looking old tree and get the top of the mountain in the background. I worked fast and managed to get this shot.. I was thinking about the unforgiving nature of the terrain (i.e. cold hands, unprepared photographer) as well as it’s beauty and I wanted to try to express that with the mountain top somewhere in the image.
Note: The trail where I made this image snakes around to camera right and hooks up with the Long Trail behind the mountain top. From the top you can see the Stowe Ski area and the Toll Road which as also another beautiful drive in the state.
Image Data: ISO 100. 17mm. F11 @ 1/125. Canon 430 ex2 speedlight and a 16 foot off camera shoe cord.