I have traveled the trail into the Great Gulf Wilderness many times, walking along and crossing the picturesque Peabody River, which emerges from the Great Gulf, a deep and long glacial cirque of the Presidential Range.
This day, wearing my photo backpack full of gear, I spent a leisurely afternoon strolling the path, listening to the gentle river sounds of the Peabody. The sun streamed through the trees, lighting up the soft orange, yellows and reds of fall, amongst the dark green conifers, with splotches of bright blue sky at the tree tops. A beautiful contrast of colors and textures. Red squirrels scrambled by, as the sound of a blue jay’s “cheeee”, broke the soft silence of the rambling river.
I eventually left the narrowness of the soft trampled path, striking through the woods, occasionally getting poked in the face by an errant branch (ouch!..marks to show later), as I ducked and weaved my way out to the river. I finally broke through the forest, scrambling down a steep embankment to the rivers edge. The Peabody at this point is more of a stream, than a true ‘river’, as it is fairly shallow and narrow, with a quick flow amongst giant boulders, and occasional deep clear pools, of amber and juniper.
I walked upstream, admiring the emerald-green mossy banks, climbing over said boulders, stepping in unavoidable shallow pools, and occasionally scrambling up another embankment to bypass the unnavigable sections. I turned a bend in the river, to discover these series of pools, and narrow flows, deciding this is where I will wait for sunset. I removed my backpack of camera equipment, and spent some time walking around sans camera, seeking out the best compositions.
After analyzing the area, and noticing the best scenes faced north and south, I concluded I would need a strong wide sunset to give the color I hoped for in the flowing water. After settling on some strong image ideas, I found a nice sloping patch of mossy earth, and reclined in a filtered sunny spot…aaaahhhh:). I sat there enjoying the beauty of the woods and stream surrounding me, as a blue heron approached from downstream, navigating the rivers path. I watched it fly over, hearing the “whoop whoop whoop” of it’s long wide wing stroke, as it passed just above me. Enjoying the sounds of the river, I drifted off for a late afternoon nap (for those of you that know me, will recognize this photo sequence;).
My light slumber was eventually interrupted by the cooling temperature, and shadows of the setting sun, indicating it was time to focus on my work. As the light waned, I scrambled back and forth amongst my determined compositions, shooting the soft early evening light. Even though the scene was still truly magical, all the while, I was hoping for a dramatic sunset. Alas, the last of the light came to a close, with some mild vermillion hues to the west, but not enough to enhance the scene in front of me. Satisfied that I still had come away with something very nice, I repacked my bag, slung my tripod over my shoulder, and scrambled back up the embankment before the light was entirely gone. In near darkness, I walked the path in silence back to my car. A wonderful evening:)!