Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 9: Egypt Lake

Waking up at 6:00am is never easy, but when it's cold and you know you're going to be hiking in the dark, it's even harder. Nevertheless, I made myself get out of my nice warm sleeping bag, put on my long underwear and hiking clothes, strapped on my headlamp, and started walking up the trail. Cynthia had convinced me to buy the brightest headlamp in the store, and I was grateful for her persuasiveness. It was bright enough for me to see the trail, spot signposts, and certainly in the dark, I needed all the help I could get. I should have guessed that Hien was an exceedingly strong hiker, since with all my camera gear and hiking in the dark, by the time 45 minutes was up and the light was beginning to show, I was only at the Scarab lake intersection. I made a quick decision that I should just go over to Scarab Lake and take what I can get.

Scarab Lake was definitely nothing special, as far as mountain tarns go. However, the facing cliff walls were in perfect position to catch the mountain light. However, there was very little on the lake front that could act as foreground, and all my attempts there were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the photos turned out well (how could alpenglow pictures turn out badly?), with the use of an ND grad. filter to make the reflections work better.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors

After munching on some breakfast bars, I decided to go up to Whistling pass as recommended by Hien. During the walk, I discovered that I had made the correct decision to stay at Scarab Lake, as the hike was fairly steep and trying to rush there would have been a mistake. Whistling pass was spectacular, as described. If I had had more time I would have tried to return there at sunrise, but judging by how I felt the previous day, I decided that I would need all my strength to hike back to the car.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Fall Colors
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

Despite the sub-optimal light, I shot off a number of pictures, and then hiked back down, feeling hungry despite the breakfast. I arrived back at the hut to find that everyone else had gone, and I had the place to myself. I found a pair of ear plugs in the fire place, so now I knew someone had needed it in the middle of the night. Deciding that I was going to try to shoot sunset at Healy Pass, I decided that I would rather eat "dinner" at lunch, and then eat a cold dinner while shooting the sunset.

I didn't have much to do from 1pm to 4pm and no one to talk to, so I finally got some time to read on the trip. I finally felt like I was on vacation! At 4:00pm I finally got off my ass, packed up my camera gear, and started hiking up Healy pass. The descent the day before felt steep, but it turns out to be a fairly straightforward hike if you're not carrying a backpacking load. I did meet several campers coming into camp as I was walking up, one of which was a group led by a member of the Park service.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

I got to the top and started hanging out and eating dinner. To my disappointment, Healy pass while pretty, is surrounded by tall mountains which would cut off my light pretty early. I had also forgotten to bring my long underwear (when climbing in the afternoon, I didn't need it). So sunset found me standing in behind my tripod and doing jumping jacks in order to stay warm. It is a truism that the amount of effort in photography has nothing to do with the results, and none of the photos I took that evening made it into my "final cut." Here are a couple of out-takes.
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism
From 2010 Canadian Rockies Journalism

I started hiking down once the shadows got really deep, but still had to turn on my headlamp half way down the hill. I arrived at the hut at 8:30pm, to see that two other campers had arrived at the hut. A couple from Montana, they both worked in the outdoor industry in Montana, and were up here for a break. I need to take pictures of everyone I meet, because I very quickly forgot their names despite having a great conversation with them and getting some tips on where else in Montana to visit.

I went to bed again warning them about my snoring and providing ear plugs. They were skeptical that anyone could be so loud, but took the ear plugs just in case. I had decided that I would not get up at 6:00am for a change, and went to sleep while the fire still warmed the cabin.

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