Highway 150

by Andrew Plewe July. 18, 2021 107 views
Fader. Officially my first "published" photo, via 1X -- https://1x.com/saltmountain

Fader. Officially my first "published" photo, via 1X -- https://1x.com/saltmountain

Wyoming, being in the North-East corner of my state, is a frequent destination for my excursions. I've driven through various parts, all the way through on the 80, bits and pieces via Montana on my way to South Dakota, and I've tried a number of different "entrances" from Utah proper. There is the 80, the main route, but there is also the 39 to the 89 up through Huntsville and down into Woodruff, then three ways from there (at least). Or there's Chalk Creek Road out of Coalville, which starts paved but turns into dirt and stays that way until you're a few miles from Evanston. You can approach from the South via Flaming Gorge, zap through the canyon East of Bear Lake on the 30, or via forest road 58 to Meek's Canyon Reservoir, and on via dirt road to Highway 150, the Mirror Lake Highway (that's the direction I drove it, to enter Wyoming you'd do that in reverse). In retrospect, that route isn't particularly good if you're in car. A truck would be much better.

Highway 150, the Mirror Lake Highway, is one of my favorites. You start climbing just East of Kamas, and wind up and up and up and up until you cross over Bald Mountain Pass. The cover photo was taken there, off the road and up as high as I could climb on the saddleback between the North and South sides of Bald Mountain, up by the cell towers. Having frequented the area many times now, I have several tons of photos in all sorts of different conditions, especially at the top.

Technical Snow. Taken just after the road opened in Spring of 2020, when the weather was very variable.

Technical Snow. Taken just after the road opened in Spring of 2020, when the weather was very variable.

The namesake Mirror Lake is just below the peak, where it hides down in a small valley under tall pine trees. The photo above is not Mirror Lake, but rather Lost Lake, which under snow and fog lives up to its name. I like Lost Lake as it's easily accessible right from 150, and I can see at a glance if I'm going to find solitude as I drive by. The waters are decently-clear, which means it's even possible to get photos of the fish if you go to the right places at the right times.

Camera Fishing. I caught three, or at least that's how many I count.

Camera Fishing. I caught three, or at least that's how many I count.

Now, spoiler, I don't have a nice photo (yet) of the "mirror" part of Mirror Lake. I've actually only gone close-ish to the water, once, and at the time the weather wasn't exactly helpful in preserving the mirror effect. It was also oscillating between snow, rain, sun, and at least three other seasons all within about an hour of each other. Which is fine, because there were many things that I liked to photograph in those constantly-changing conditions.

Spring Dropping Slow. We interrupt this springtime to bring you winter.

Spring Dropping Slow. We interrupt this springtime to bring you winter.

Shroud. I'm a sucker for veil-like clouds passing over and through mountains and rocks.

Shroud. I'm a sucker for veil-like clouds passing over and through mountains and rocks.

Of course not every excursion happens on days like that. The first time I drove up that way we'd just had a semi-decent water year, so the pond shown below actually had water in it. I've yet to see it with water again in the two years or so that I've gone back up that way. The wildflowers are usually there, as are the the animals and other bits of nature. I consider myself lucky (even if this isn't one of my better photos) to have experienced it when I did. There are things like that which you may not realize are actually rare; it's only in retrospect that the unique conditions which created the thing are recognized. Maybe this pond is always there right after the snow melts? I suppose the Forest Service knows. It doesn't show up as a body of water on Google Maps, nor does it appear in Google's Satellite View. Which, I think, is a wonderful thing.

Bald Mountain Pass Pond. That's my name for it, I hope other people find it some day.

Bald Mountain Pass Pond. That's my name for it, I hope other people find it some day.

After you go through the pass, the road winds then goes straight through a string of cliffs and mountains. At some point you officially cross over into Wyoming (the cabins are nicer on the Wyoming side for some reason), and you'll soon find yourself driving flat through miles of farmland before curving down into Evanston. Since the highway isn't open all the way through in Winter, I've not gone that direction (yet) to capture those fields and farms under and around the snow, which I think would make for excellent photo conditions.

It's fitting that my first photo to get published would be from one of the first places I explored in my quest to learn photography. That first trip was magical. I'd never been to the Provo River Falls before, which has handy signs and decent parking and as such usually at least a few fellow photographers around it. Probably for good reason, the falls are broad and reasonably tall, and depending on how soon/late you go during spring runoff you can get varying intensity in the water flow. Early on the falls are more energetic, crashing and rushing and generally doing the impressive "waterfall" thing. Later on they become more zen-like, and the stairstep rock structures behind the water become more visible.

Provo River Falls. This is the more sedate, meditative version. Photo from my first trip.

Provo River Falls. This is the more sedate, meditative version. Photo from my first trip.

Jacob's Waterslide. When the falls get energetic.

Jacob's Waterslide. When the falls get energetic.

Being, as it is, the Western shoulder of the Uintah mountain range, there's plenty of red in the rock, along with the greens of the trees, the various colors of wildflowers, and numerous small ponds and named lakes and reservoirs. I'm still learning how to capture it well, where to go and what to aim my camera at. In many ways this road is a great training-ground, having as it does a huge range of conditions and views. I've also used it as a backdrop for taking photos with my kids, who enjoy going up there to run around and play "picture tag". Perhaps one day they will be "it", trying to capture forever a glimpse of their own children.

Fizz. Running through a field of bokeh. This is a c-mount Fujinon television lens, so it doesn't cover the whole sensor with its image circle. I like the effect, personally.

Fizz. Running through a field of bokeh. This is a c-mount Fujinon television lens, so it doesn't cover the whole sensor with its image circle. I like the effect, personally.

Launch. I think the rules are this doesn't count as a "tag".

Launch. I think the rules are this doesn't count as a "tag".

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