Cold, dark, alone. It's 5:15am and pitch-black outside. I force myself to crawl outside the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag and into the dark forest. My goal for this morning: climb Mount Jo to photograph the sunrise. The map says the hike should only be about 2 miles from my location to the top of the mountain, with a steep and rocky incline from the base to the summit. "This should be a piece of cake"
Recently, I purchased a Pelican case for all of my camera gear. These cases are sturdy, heavy, and can withstand just about anything (minus bear or shark attacks) I had the brilliant idea of carrying all of my camera gear in my Pelican case up the mountain with me. The case itself weighs around 15 pounds. Fully loaded it weighed just over 30 pounds.
To reach the summit of Mount Jo you have two options, the Long Trail or the Short Trail. They are both very steep and rugged! I decided to take the short trail. Climbing up and over boulders with that case was quite the challenge! I legitimately thought my heart would explode at any moment from the intense exertion. The boulders themselves were tricky to navigate and climb, even with both hands free. After about 45 minutes I was near the summit of Mount Jo, drenched in sweat and exhausted.
Finally, I reached the rocky outcropping at the very top of the mountain, only to find the view obscured by thick fog. After waiting roughly 1 hour in the cold, early morning air I decided to clamber back down the mountain in hopes of utilizing the nice morning lighting.
On the way down I followed the Long Trail, thinking it would be a lot less steep and rocky than the Short Trail. It was not. The trail basically followed a stream down the side of the mountain. After carefully making my way down the trail, I eventually arrived back at Heart Lake.
Thankfully the sun was just starting to peak through the low-lying clouds and provide some great lighting!
The fog rising from the lake, combined with the low clouds, provided a nice frame for the beautiful Fall Foliage.
As I was watching the clouds slowly break up, I noticed that the tops of the western mountains were glowing white with frost! My Tamron 150-600mm lens was used to zoom way in and get some cool shots of the distant frozen landscape.
With such a stunning view in front of me, and a bench right there on the beach, I decided to film some timelapse videos. What a relaxing way to spend a morning! I made a quick compilation video from this first day's photos and timelapse videos Check it out over on Youtube!
After shooting at Heart Lake for a few hours I was ready to head back to my base camp and relax for a bit. However, I was not looking forward to lugging that damn camera case all the way back with me. Thankfully I got my fastest hitch ever! Just as I had reached the road and stuck my thumb out, a girl pulled over and offered me a lift. It turns out she was a seasonal trail builder in the Adirondacks and was based out of a cabin nearby. She had been working the park all summer and was nearing the end of her time in the Adirondacks. One thing I love about hitching is the interesting and wonderful people you meet!
Once I arrived back at my tent and car, I had a little lunch and decided to explore the area for a bit.
I arrived back at base camp just in time to pack up my gear again and head back to Mount Jo for a sunrise shoot. Having learned from my earlier mistakes, I carried only a few lenses and one camera body. With my lightened load I headed through the forest with a new spring in my step. Taking the Short Trail again, I was amazed how easy it was this time! Upon arriving at the summit, I saw a breathtaking view: mountains and unbroken forest as far as the eye could see in every direction! It was incredibly relaxing to watch the light slowly rise up the mountains, as the sun began to set.