Winter Sheep Snowshoeing

            In early December Twila and I headed off into the Canadian Rockies to look for sheep. We hadn’t had much time to get out and shoot since we got married, and we were really looking forward to our winter camping trip. We had never been to where we were going, so that was exciting too!

            Winter camping in the Canadian Rockies is not for the feint of heart. I’m very excited that my wife enjoys being outside all the time and loves winter! We got to where we were going in the afternoon and did a scouting hike of the area. We found some tracks, but no sheep, but we at least knew they were around. The sun almost beat us down before we got back to the truck. It gets dark around 5 p.m. in the winter, so it makes the part of the day we can photograph much shorter.         

            We got out the cooking stove and make a good pasta dinner, and finished right as it was getting dark. The temperature was dropping fast, now that the sun was down, so we hurried and got everything cleaned up and got in the truck. We had lots of blankets and sleeping bags and got cozy in the truck. It’s hard to keep the face warm in the winter while sleeping, but the rest of us did fine. It’s great to be out camping again!           

            The alarm went off before the sunrise, and it is always so hard to get up in the winter and put cold clothes on. We had made hot water the night before, which was a great call so that we could have hot chocolate to warm us up as we got up! It didn’t take too long to get up and start snowshoeing up the mountain. It was a beautiful morning and we got up the mountain pretty fast. When we got to where we hiked to yesterday, we spotted some sheep off in the distance. After waiting a while, they ended up coming our way and we moved to get in position. It was exciting they were coming to us as there was a large ravine between us and we couldn’t go any closer. They ended up going to the ridge closest to us, and the scene behind them couldn’t have been any better!

            For the next few hours we moved up the mountain on our side of the ravine as they moved. Fortunately, they decided to stay on the ridge for a long time. Blazing a new trail in deep snow while photographing was exhausting. It was fun, and it was the most Twila had ever snow shoed before, but it wore us out. We got really great pictures and had a fun time getting them. We even forgot how cold it was because we were getting nice shots!

           On our way down the mountain that evening Twila managed to find a snowshoe hare. I have looked and looked for them in the daytime for years, and never actually found one. They don’t move in the day much and they blend in so well that they are hard to find. I was very excited to see this hare and for it to not bounce away. It cooperated and just sat there and let us take its picture. So cool to finally photograph a snow shoe hare!

           That night it was considerably colder than the night before. We could see our breath much more prominently, and we knew we would be in for a cold night. It was hard getting out of bed in the morning, but again that hot chocolate was a lifesaver. We think it was colder than 10 degrees when we got up. It makes hiking challenging as well as you can overheat while snowshoeing, but freeze once you get to the top and stop moving. When we got to where we found the sheep yesterday, they were not there, which was not surprising. We ended up snowshoeing and exploring a lot of the area to know more of what to expect the next time we come back. From a higher vantage point we did find some sheep, but they were a very long way away, so we didn’t try to get to them.

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            We got down the mountain in time to drive and explore some more. It was another clear day, and we did find some mountain goats near the road. As the sun went down we also found a couple of real nice scenes over rivers with the sunset. It was a successful winter trip for bighorn, and we look forward to doing it again soon!

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Trying to Relax

            October was just what I needed!  The summer was so busy that I didn’t have time to think about many other aspects of my photography and business.  After closing the gallery, and then photographing the elk rut, I finally had a chance to relax for the first time in months.  I was looking forward to falling back into what I had known as my past, and not having day-to-day responsibilities.  I thoroughly enjoy the freedom my job allows, and the ability to go anywhere at any given time. Before this summer, I was use to photographing, and then taking a break, and then photographing more.  There were no breaks this summer, because when I wasn’t photographing, I was in my gallery in Skagway.  And it will likely be that way for years to come.

            I didn’t realize how much the summer had drained me until I began to fully relax.  I was so caught up in the gallery, and trying to make it successful, that many things fell through the cracks.  I envisioned only needing a short amount of time to be caught up on most things, but I was wrong.  The more I relaxed and looked back on the summer and other needs of my business, the more I realized I had lots to do.  I’m grateful I was able to take a step back and analyze the summer, and my business as a whole, and see how things went and how I would like them to go in the future.

            As my career has changed and progressed, I have enjoyed each new twist and turn.  I’ve never known where I was going to be from year to year, but now that has changed some too.  I will still have many unknown during the fall and winter, but for the spring and summer I will be in Alaska.  I can think of many worst things that being in Alaska, though.

            All that spare time I use to have as I got my business going, is long gone.  I enjoyed all the unknowns and paths that I’ve taken to get to this point in my career, and look forward to the future ones.  I got caught up in this summer, and got away from a couple of thing that has made my career so great.  October allowed me to see that, and to hopefully not have that happen again.  Relaxing and a distressing of the mind were critical for me.  I needed to get back out in nature, and forget about all the other things of the world that catch so many people and don’t let go. 

            I did a fair amount of work in October, but it was the times I didn’t work that made October great.  Exploring new areas and finding new places to photograph is what excites me the most! There is so much area in our great continent to explore and search.  My fiancé recently moved, and spending time with her in the mountains around her area was great!  I did a lot of pre scouting for the winter, and now can’t wait for winter to get here.  It will be exciting to see what winter brings in this new area to me.

A beautiful scene in my new home.

A beautiful scene in my new home.

            On November 10th I hooked the trailer back up and begun the long drive to Tennessee.  I wasn’t looking forward to the three-day drive, but it had to be done.  My truck has started to have a little transmission issues, but I figured I could make it back to TN.  It did fine across the country, thankfully, and after 39 hours of driving I got back to Tennessee.  I have a gallery exhibit in my hometown of Tullahoma that opens on November 19th from 5-7 p.m. at the Fine Art Center.