The orange cast to this photo is completely natural, and appropriate; it was captured on Halloween Day, 2017, at the very moment mountains of candy were changing hands in cities and towns across the USA. Believe it or not, that was on my mind as I stood freezing at the edge of a wilderness pond over 10,000 feet in elevation, night closing in. My brand of photographic art can be a lonely endeavor, and I often observe to myself that I stand at an improbable time and place doing solitary things while most people, I imagine, are doing more normal and social activities. When my images are occasionally successful, compliments overflow but people seldom realize the strange circumstances in which they came to be. I wonder if I should perhaps go easier in my obsessive pursuit of beautiful visual moments. But then, I wouldn’t have the enjoyment of telling these exotic stories.
The centerpiece of this photograph is Hayden Peak, a landmark in the High Uinta Wilderness Area that residents of the region know very well. It is essentially a pilgrimage site for thousands who drive for hours to see its crags rising from the forest. No crowds today, however, due to both the holiday and the pre-winter chill. I had been stalking this shot for three days, under a bit of time pressure because the roads could be closed any day by winter storms. With the last shot in the can, I hiked back to the car and startled the last group of elk coming down from the high peaks and headed for the winter lowlands. They, at least, completely understood what I was doing.