Trip report – Misty Mountains July 2020
The Misty Mountains trip is unique in many ways. It offers access into an area that literally no other photographers enters. Not because its super difficult to hike into the area or that it requires some kind of special skill. But more the fact that on the surface the area seem like nothing too special. Its not screaming out loud for attention. There are no dagger like peaks staring you in the face, no iconic overshot scenes to drag any masses in. Its just there…in all its quiet beauty. Once you enter these mountains, its like entering a different world. A world where everything is quiet. Nothing but you and and your fellowship making your way through the forests, crossing the crystal clear rivers, climbing those spectacular mountain passes, saying hello to the only true inhabitants of the mountains; the reindeers, the eagles and the ravens circling the mighty peaks. During the 6 days you adjust to the rhythm of the mountains. You lose track of time. The midnight sun provides light all day and all night. By the time you put down your backpack on day 7, you are slightly changed. These mountains have that effect…
Everyone is filled with excitement and quite a lot of worry. Worrying about how hard its going to be. If they are strong enough to not slow down the group, if the gear is good enough. Lots of thoughts that everyone soon will realize was pointless. We have all thetime in the world so we dont stress. Everyone can follow their own pace and get used to hiking with a heavy backpack. On day 1 everyone has a heavy load with food for the enture trip, camera gear and all the other necessary mountain gear needed to be out in the wild for many days. We make our way up towards our first basecamp, located next to a beautiful mountain lake. Small creeks winding down the slopes, with small cascades perfect for photography. Before we get to camp we have to make the first of many river crossings. Exciting, a bit scary, but lots of fun! The evening is spent around camp photographing the beautiful surroundings.
We never stress in the mornings up here. The light can be perfect even at mid-day, even if the classic golden light occurs in the evenings and at night. After a slow breakfast and lots of coffee, we start making our way up to next camp. And its upwards for sure. One long hill. Roughly 500 meter elevation gain over 2 kilometers. Not too long, but still enough to feel it in your legs. But the campsite is totally worth it! Overlooking the valley below. All quiet and only the reindeer interrupted us briefly. In the evening we did a spectacular hike up towards one of the tallest peaks in the area. We didnt go all the way up, but at around 1000m elevation we enjoyed an incredible view. We took our time before strolling down to camp to enjoy the midnight sun slowly roll over the distant mountains.
This day we had to make our way over a mountain to get to the neighbouring valley where the rest of the trip would take place. Perfect weather for hiking and stunning views along the way made it memorable despite the physically demanding parts. This year there were more snow than ive ever experienced in July. Normally there are literally no snow at all. It made some of the hiking easier since the snow would cover up a lot of the rocky parts, saving us a bit of time. We had lunch on the top of the peak before slowly descending down to our camp. Another spectacular basecamp! The evening was spent exploring a waterfall and shooting incredible scenes from camp. Thats the advantage of camping out like this. We have amazing views and scenes around us at all times. And being together with likeminded people 24/7 means picking up ideas and inspiration constantly.
Day 4 and day 5
Todays hike was a nice and easy one. We made our way across the valley and had lunch after another fun river crossing. On the way we stopped for several sessions shooting cotton flowers. The afternoon was spent exploring some of the most amazing waterfalls ive ever seen. Perfectly shaped cascades falling like staircases in the rocks. The highlight was entering a snow cave shooting from the inside. The cold was intense, but such an awesome experience for everyone. Our next campsite was next to a lake where we would spend the next two nights while waiting for a windy weather system to move in. We sat around the fire just enjoying life, talking about everything and nothing. Everyone getting more and more into the rhythm of the mountains…
The next day we hike to a narrow part of the valley. A place that supposedly is haunted. Its a beautiful place, but it always feels a bit stressful being in there. Tons of waterfalls are falling down the surrounding mountains. We spend the day exploring rivers and waterfalls as well as lower forests with great photos to be made. At night the bad weather rolled in with really strong winds coming down the mountains and swiping through our campsite. Its all part of the experience.
Its time to make our way out of the mountains and back to the sounds and stress of civilization. Several river crossings and a tiring hike out. We are physically exhausted when we get back to the car. Exhausted but happy! We wrap up the trip with some of the finest forest photography ive ever done. The low evening sun illuminating the flowers and leaves magically.
This years Misty trip was another success. Every year it holds its place as a truly special trip, providing memories and experiences of a lifetime for everyone. Its not a classic photo tour or a workshop. Its an experience. If you havent done it, you wont understand. Those who have…understand.
Next years trip takes place from July 19 – 25th. There is still 1 spot open if you are willing to adapt to the quiet beauty of these mountains.