The mountain is not as quiet as most people think. Chattering squirrels, croaking jays, knocking woodpeckers punctuate the rolling sounds of cattle herds and machinery from the valley below. But as the mornings grow colder, silence falls on the forest.
This is Part 2 of my photo collection from this year’s elk hunt in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon. You can see Part 1 here.
Standing like a sentinel in the clouds.
You can almost see how cold it’s getting.
This may look like creative framing, but actually – I was just hunkering down under this tree trying to find a dry place to sit.
The morning light brings a little reprieve from the snow, but no warmth. I’m in the filling of a giant ice cream sandwich, with clouds laying in the valley below and hanging above.
The town of Joseph lays under a blanket of clouds at an elevation of 4,190 feet, about 1,500 feet below me.
The sunrise teases me this morning. Almost coming out to offer a little warmth, but instead retreating behind the fog.
Clouds consolidate to reveal a patchwork quilt of farmland.
The blue sky is deceiving. The sun can’t quite pierce through.
If you look at yesterdays’ post, you’ll see the Seven Devils, here obscured in heavenly whisps.
I’m often fascinated by experiencing the vastness of something like this sprawling mountain while contemplating the minute details that comprise the whole.
Spring Creek runs through the family ranch. It’s a natural spring that gushes out of the side of the mountain, relentlessly flowing to the valley below.
This creek flows rapidly enough to never freeze, even though it can be covered in several feet of snow and ice.
In the summer, these thistles have white puffballs of seeds, now replaced with imposter ice crystals.
The trees look intentionally decorated for the season.
Look closely. You can see water droplets eagerly jumping up to help build new ice bridges.
Fall flows into winter.
A single blade of grass provides scaffolding for this ice bridge to form over the creek. Zoom into the details to see the amazing patterns in the ice. It reminds me of termite tunnels or the “roads” discovered on Mars.
This scene fascinated me so much I decided to include three different interpretations of the same shot. Which is your favorite?
As quiet as it is, you’re never really alone in the forest. I got up before the sun to hunt, but this little coyote was hunting before I arrived.
The stillness of his fresh footprints seems to accentuate the silence.
We weren’t the only ones searching the forest for food, as you’ll see tomorrow…
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