The first organisms to shift and adapt to a new season have always seemed to me like its harbingers. Here in the North Country, I’m noticing the first buds appearing on the maple trees—several weeks after their sap was harvested to make some delicious New York maple syrup—but back in the autumn, those same trees were the first to display their autumn foliage.
In the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Raquette River was dammed for hydroelectric power. The town of Colton, New York sits on the resulting reservoir; the rapids in the foreground are the beginning of Stone Valley, an area of trails that I’ve photographed extensively in the past. The contrast between placid reflections in the reservoir and the dark currents of the river proper stand out during the blue hour.
An almost-island was hiding in the background of this photograph of Stone Valley. Most of my childhood adventures involved sorties from some kind of tree-based fortress; this formation silhouetted against the setting sun reminded me of those adventures. Or maybe just the fort from a particular film. (Even it’s neither truly secret, nor a fort.)
When chemists study water, the molecular-level view offers a lot to consider. Bulk water takes on two fluid phases and seventeen (depending on who you ask) solid phases, from a physical scientist’s perspective. That’s my normal mindset. Even when I see liquid water in a photography, however, I’m astonished to see wispy white tendrils and glassy surfaces that are all created by reflection and scattering from the same material.
Classic Stone Valley! A few minutes and meters down the trail from Monday’s image, I caught my favorite part of the hike at a great time of day. Previous trips to this this spot turned into rehearsals for navigating slippery rocks. This has turned out to be one of my favorite pieces of nature photography, but there’s more to come next Monday.
Except perhaps in winter, I’ve always hiked when the sun was high in the sky and settled in before sunset. I have always wanted, however, to capture some dramatic nature scenes with a crazy sky, so this weekend I went sunset hunting. This shot, appropriately, is from early in the night. Later in the week, I’ll be showing more of the shots as I hiked on and the sun disappeared.
If the weather is just right and recent rain has the Raquette River running high through Stone Valley, a summer hike is just the thing. A geologist would have the technical explanation of the valley’s odd geometry. The hydroelectric dam secretly controls the scene (or the water release, anyway).
The scale of the setting doesn’t really become apparent until you try to spot the tiny people (chemists and physicists, in this case) on the rocks. Bob Ross would be proud.
Water levels in the Raquette River through Stone Valley (site of some excellent rocks) were quite high, leading to normally dry areas (like this one) overflowing with impromptu waterfalls. Surfaces and water levels in various areas didn’t want to match up, and made for a feeling like the whole river had been “assembled” out of order.
There are few natural features that look colder than a rushing blackwater river when the air temperature is below 0ºF. The convergence of this little reservoir to the far-off (and equally miniature) hydroelectric station neatly contrasts the frigid setting with the optimism of twentieth-century technocrats. (The Adirondacks are dotted with an improbable number of tiny hydroelectric stations.)