White Rocks

Greg after swapping layers on the way up

A short hike with Greg and the Pup. Cold, late fall and late for the season cold. We set out to do the White Rocks / Hunger Mountain loop – but the pup was shivering as we neared the top of White Rocks – so we back tracked.

The trail pup

Hunger was in low lying clouds – so we made a good choice, regardless, especially after retreating to Red Hen for coffee and breakfast.

Hunger in the clouds, from our coffee stop near the top of White Rocks

Orionids

The 2am alarm felt like it came early. I made a quick check to see if the cloud cover projection has improved – the forecast went from partly cloudy at 70% at bedtime to 25% over a few hours of sleep. I grabbed a backpack with my camera, sit pad, tripod, warm layers, and my 40d summer sleeping bag. On the way out the door I tossed in some Via coffee and my MSR Windburner and a Nalgene.

By 3 I was on the road, by 4 hiking up the ~1.75 mile forest road / trail to Silver Lake. I got set up and snapped the first few test shots and settled in on the shore.

Silver Lake runs north south on the western side of Vermont. It has a ridge to the east and west. Its fairly well protected from light from Middlebury, and Orion would be visible to the south.

I parked at the Falls of Lana trailhead and made quick time of the old forest road to the lake. I scouted from the dam and settled in at the beach. It wasn’t long before I started seeing meteors. After taking a few test exposures I setup a 2 second delay followed by 10 shots.

I varied the shutter time a bit – and I think I either was a few seconds too long or I missed my focus point on some of the images.

After about an hour was quite chilled – so I pulled the 40d summer bag from my pack and wrapped up in it and fired up the stove for some coffee. The light continued to change – it was lovely to see night turn to day, and watch the stars shift slightly to the west as the sky went from dark to blue.

Silver Lake was quite still – there was no breeze at the lake – and the water reflected the stars and the distant ridge.

I was surprised at how clear the reflection was – I was able to make out Orion and the Pleiades in the reflected light on the water, as well as the rocks and the lake bottom just below the surface.

Just before sunrise I packed up and made my way down the hill to the car. I was home before most of the family was out of bed… just in time to make breakfast with the girls, and make another round of coffee for myself.

Dynamic Sky

I was planning to ride this morning due to the mountain forecast looking unfavorable for a hike and some photography – but when the pup got up to go out at 3am I checked the forecasts and saw the winds dropping and the sky revised to ‘partly cloudy’. I put on coffee, ran around getting gear together, and was hiking by 5am. Summit by 6:30 or so, where I found a spot semi sheltered from the wind.

Trail under the light of the Petzl NAO
Trail marker
Peek at the moon

I ran a quick time lapse test on the G7X Mk2 – but it was very very windy – so I focused on shooting stills. In the Gossamer Gear Summit pack I had the Canon M6 with 4 lenses, Canon G7X Mk2, 2 tripods (1 small, 1 regular height), sit pad, water, snack, and warm layers.

Sunrise!

The color was pretty incredible with the dynamic sky. Before the sun snuck over the horizon we were in and out of the clouds. That calmed down a bit once the sun was up.

The little cloud that could!
Summit selfie
Unreal light

After about an hour of hanging out on top I descended and played with a 50mm f/1.8 lens on the M6. It shoots pretty long on the new camera – but it produces lovely images. Lots to learn – but I like it.

Tree – playing with the ‘nifty fifty’ on the way down
Lonely leaf
Fungi and color
Burl and Bokeh
Trail paint and color – playing with the ‘nifty fifty’ on the way down

I took a few dirt road diversions on the way home to check out the fall color. All in, a great morning.

Camel’s Hump Sunrise 2017

The moon and the stars and sunrise called last weekend. I set the alarm for 2am, was out of bed by 2:15 and locking the car at the trailhead by 3:45. Summit under a headlamp via Burrows Trail to a sliver of a moon where I setup the GoPro to capture a time-lapse and my Canon on the tripod. Forecast was for clear skies – we ended up with some haze overhead and fog in the valleys.

I sat and watched sci-fi clouds change color with the sunrise, and watched the fog float and roll up over the terrain in the valley.

Sunrise was unreal, less dynamic due to few clouds than last year’s sunrise hike – but serene and calm.

Until a drone buzzed the summit and flew south to Wind Gap, back over the summit, and then explored the cliffs off the east side. It eventually dropped out of site – but even when it was near Wind Gap and out of sight it was quite loud… After it was called back to its master things quieted down again. With the valley fog the mountain top was eerily still aside from the wind which ranged from a gentle breeze to the occasional gust.

I watched the shadow of the mountain grow in the valley below to the west. As I enjoyed the summit I snapped photos, chatted with a few other hikers, and sipped on the coffee I carried up.

I descended the summit via the cliffs on the Long Trail and returned to the car via the Forest City Trail.