Image of the Month – The Goat Trail

31, July 31st, 2010 by Carl D
Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and the University Peaks, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Sunset over the Chitistone Valley and the University Peaks, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click the thumbnail to view a larger version of the photo.

Hey Folks,

And the Image of the Month for August 2010 is a photo of sunset over the University Peaks, just south of the Chitistone River. We’d backpacked down the Chitistone Canyon all day, set up camp after crossing the Goat Trail, had a GREAT dinner with superb views of Mount Bona (16 421′ high) and the University Range, and the light kept getting better and better. I’d long wanted to hike down this little creek to a plateau above the Chitistone River and shoot sunset there, and knew this would be a great opportunity to do so.

I couldn’t convince any of the hikers in our group to join for me the evening trek (2 miles one way), so I grabbed my camera gear after we’d finished dinner, and set out. Though this scene wasn’t my intended final destination, I loved the combination of clouds, deep, steep canyon walls, and the warm light hitting the distant unnamed mountain. I stopped and took a few photos before continuing on my way down to the plateau.

When shooting a scene such as this, with high contrast between the shaded depths of the steep canyon and the bright clouds and distant peaks (Mount Bona) I use either a Split Density filter or take multiple images of differing exposures and blend them together in the computer later. This image I used 2 split density filters, a 2-stop and a 3-stop. Handholding 2 filters is hard; handholding them when you don’t want them to align symmetrically is really hard. Lesson #1 – carry a Cokin filter holder.

The Goat Trail is the first route I ever hiked in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and is always a welcome treat for me to return to. This one was a night I’ll remember for along time. I returned to our high camp at around midnight. What a fantastic evening.

Cheers

Carl

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